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Editor's Note: The Sky is Not Falling

Aug 15, 2003, 23:30 (31 Talkback[s])

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

Much has been said about The SCO Group's recent exploration of attacking the GPL, which may have been little more than a trial balloon, if you'll pardon the pun, to see what tactics the open-source community might have up its sleeve.

If that is what this was: a feint by the SCO legal team to draw out some possible responses from the OSS side, then I have to admit, it was brilliantly played. SCO is using one of our strengths against us: the open source community is open.

We discuss, we cajole, and (in the apparent case of Rob Enderle) we flame people with a lot of rightous anger. And, most of all, boy, do we talk.

The SCO Group is, if nothing else, a master agent provocateur, pushing exactly the right buttons to whip the Linux, free software, and open-source software communities into a hurricane of indignation and scorn. They get two things out of this: the opportunity to use some of our community's less-than-exempliary behavior as poster children of all that is supposedly wrong with Linux and the chance to find out how businesses will respond to these new plans.

Make no mistake, SCO is adept at controlling the media. When their stock was sliding earlier this week, SCO released the announcement about their first Linux "licensee," slowing the slide from becoming a precipitous drop before the close of the market.

Coincedence? I've seen stranger events with much longer odds, but here is one telling fact: the media was also told we would find out more about this licensee later in the week during SCO's third-quarter status announcement. I, for one, did not hear anything about that licensee out of that press conference.

It is a game now of who can spin what information first. The SCO Group was even so blatent to invite members of the media all expenses paid to their upcoming SCOForum. I cannot speak directly for other media outlets, but I can tell you that it would be a huge conflict of interest for journalists to accept room, board, and airfare to Las Vegas to attend their conference.

I politely declined on behalf of myself and any freelancers who would want to cover it for the publications I edit.

The fact that SCO had to make such an offer to the media tells me that they were having trouble getting media to attend their show. Show organizers want two things out of any show: potential customers and media exposure. I would be very curious to see the press list from the SCOForum next week.

It is, as I said, all just a game now, until the courts decide the matter sometime in the not-so-near future. But I will give one piece of advice to SCO: it is a game that myself and quite a few of my colleagues in the media are getting tired of playing.

Without clear, substantive evidence of their claims, SCO's statements are rapidly being downgraded in status to "what wacky thing are they going to say now?" stories. If they were ever really wronged, no one is going to be taking those wrongs seriously much longer.

Because analyst after analyst, pundit after pundit, both inside and outside of the Linux community, are starting to see SCO as just another Chicken Little.

Program Note

On to pleasanter things: some of you may have noted the new favicon we have for the site. The new icon's yellow and black motif is much better suited for our site's redesign.

The thanks for this new favicon goes out to one of regular readers, Abe Milde! Big thanks for the icon, Abe!

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