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Groklaw Shifts Gears, Now Stressing Preservation 123

dan of the north notes a change of direction at Groklaw. Pamela Jones (PJ) writes: "I think we need to use this time to perfect our work and ensure Groklaw's preservation. It will require shutting down the daily articles and News Picks, at least for the forseeable future, but I'm convinced it's important to do it. One of the core purposes of Groklaw has always been to create a reliable record for historians and law schools to use our materials to teach and inform. ... I choose to make sure our work as fully reliable, comprehensive and, to the degree humanly possible, permanent. ... Groklaw's collection of materials is really valuable. I'd like to ensure that it survives. ... We've covered the SCO litigations since May of 2003, and it's the only complete record of this important phase in IT history."
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Groklaw Shifts Gears, Now Stressing Preservation

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  • Complete? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:40PM (#26348295)

    It ain't over yet!

  • by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:42PM (#26348347)

    If Groklaw has the only complete record of the SCO ligitation then some court archivist should be looking for work.

  • by bostonkarl ( 795447 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:48PM (#26348445)
    Naw, it is just that SCO has made so many outlandish claims that there is a mountain of material to refute them all. Kudos, Groklaw. What an amazing blog. What an example of what online collaboration can achieve.
  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:51PM (#26348501) Journal

    If Groklaw has the only complete record of the SCO ligitation then some court archivist should be looking for work.

    It is not that original materials are not available -- rather Groklaw has collected the materials from multiple cases, multiple courts and converted documents to text.

  • by IceCreamGuy ( 904648 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:53PM (#26348541) Homepage
    Oh yeah, I forgot, the entire thing took place in a single courtroom! Seriously though, while the court records will be very important, I think they do have a point, I mean there were press releases, public discussion and third parties involved. I think relying on the court record for a complete historical documentation of the entire fiasco would leave a lot out for future generations.
  • by MasterOfMagic ( 151058 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:57PM (#26348607) Journal

    Not to mention analysis, reaction, and discussion. No court record includes that.

  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @04:58PM (#26348627)

    Those were halcyon days, back when Groklaw was in eveyr technorati's bookmarks, and all nerd-rage found a unifying enemy in SCO. 6 years later, Linux is free and clear, the Alex de Tocqueville institute is forgotten, as is Dan Lyons, Daniel Wallace, Maureen O'Gara, the Yankee Group, and the guy who did tech news and SCO-shilling who is so forgotten I can't even find him on Google anymore (a testament to how old this stuff is: I read about him every day and I can't even remember or find his name).

    Back then, it was the few and informed fighting against the ignorance of an entire market of empty-headed, buzzword-filled suits. It stoked my ego to have a "cause" to fight for, even if it was exclusively by arguing with trolls on the internet.

    But the job's done. I'm not aware of any rampant corporate FOSS-phobia (every big player's got their hands in the pot, now). SCO's dead. Linux lives. And it survives merely on its merits, not because of any inherent philosophical superiority. Technorati and business pro's alike (it's a Venn diagram; I know) choose the best tool for the job. The old arguments are, for the most part, dead.

    I think the end of Groklaw as a significant force in FOSS started around the time of the "GrokWars." It's obvious to me that if allies have enough time to fight each other (over stupid stuff, at that), then whatever common enemy it was that held them together is either dead or irrelevant.

    While Groklaw had some significant voice in the GPL v3 debate, I think that was its last hurrah. Today, we simply don't need Groklaw anymore.

    Of course, I would call that success of mission.

  • by Bootsy Collins ( 549938 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:12PM (#26348859)

    I read PJ's post on Groklaw, linked to in the article summary. It seems as if she's effectively defining Groklaw's purpose as being to deal with the threat to free and open-source software brought on by the SCO cases; that being so, if the threat from SCO is over, there's not much to do except to make sure that the tons of archived information is correct, and to work to make it easily accessible to those who might come to need it in the future.

    1. Is it really the case that the SCO cases are over? It's true that SCO's cases against IBM, Autozone, and Red Hat are moot if SCO doesn't hold the copyrights they use as the basis for their claim; but SCO plans to appeal the judgment in Novell's favor. Until that appeal is done, it doesn't seem to me to be over.

    2. Even assuming the SCO aspect of this situation is over, the fundamental issues here haven't been decided. Essentially, the judgment against SCO means that SCO doesn't have standing to bring a lawsuit against IBM. But if Novell were to become evil, then who's to say they couldn't bring such a lawsuit? The fundamental question of whether Linux infringes on UNIX copyrights has yet to be decided on in court (however ridiculous any of us may feel such a claim to be). That was the issue when Groklaw originally got started, and it's still out there.

    3. Furthermore, it's not the only legal issue that could threaten Linux or other FOSS projects in the future. Groklaw has at times addressed issues associated with patents and trade secrets, and those aren't going anywhere. And we still have yet to finish cases in which software companies attempt to invalidate the terms of the GPL, to exculpate themselves from appropriating code from projects licensed under the GPL -- also a topic occasionally covered by Groklaw. I understand that it's PJ's blog, and her life, and the focus of Groklaw is whatever she says it is. But it's still sad, because the decision to define the focus of the resource (for that's what its archives and especially its participant base are) narrowly leaves behind a vacuum at a time when there are still real threats to oppose.

  • by phrackwulf ( 589741 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:14PM (#26348887)

    I understand the need to draw down, but I certainly would hate for PJ to totally throw in the towel. She's accomplished something by harnessing the output of the legal system to an FOSS platform in a way Geeks can understand. That is elegant and original and incredibly, incredibly important. What about net neutrality and invasion of privacy and the next organization that decides, "Who cares about legality, we can get away with it." Groklaw is the 11th commandment. Thou shalt not get away with it. The legal system as it is, is the OS of our society. Groklaw is the repository for documentation of that OS and the ways it can be played with or corrupted, the same way exploits can be carried out in computer operating systems. It's stretching a metaphor naturally.

  • by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) * on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:21PM (#26348999)

    I think the end of Groklaw as a significant force in FOSS.... Today, we simply don't need Groklaw anymore.

    There's no law that says that Groklaw has to have anything to do with FOSS. It can live on just fine as a site which covers legal developments of interest to its geeky audience... and yes, we do need that. Badly. There is no such thing as too many sources providing clear and level-headed coverage of what's going on in our legal system.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:23PM (#26349047)

    In addition, many of the press releases, blog entries, etc. that SCO posted over the years have been withdrawn from their web site and/or revised.

    In many cases, Groklaw made a copy of the relevant pages at the time that they were relevant, so that later revisionist history could be seen for what it was.

  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:30PM (#26349153)

    You got it! Rob Enderle, complete tool-bag.

  • by wrecked ( 681366 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:33PM (#26349199)
    While it's novelty may have faded, this is hardly a "post-Groklaw" web now. "Post-SCO", maybe. Groklaw is still one of the best sites for litigation analysis that I have seen (and yes, IAAL). While the SCO wars may have created Groklaw, Groklaw has covered other "intellectual property" issues such as the ODF/OOXML disputes.
  • There's groups like the EFF, sites like Chilling Effects, and individual blogs like NYCL's, news aggregators like Slashdot, magazines like Wired, and many others... I can only begin a list of the categories, let alone the sites themselves.

    Groklaw has been a rallying point for part of the online civil discourse, but it's not the only one. Perhaps the community that has grown around Groklaw can keep using it as a touchstone, as they shift their own emphasis to other parts of the web, but that doesn't need Pamela's continued engagement and daily involvement, does it?

  • by burning-toast ( 925667 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:35PM (#26349233)

    Doesn't this lend credit to the idea that perhaps PJ was hired solely to cover the SCO trial?

    Was her mysterious identity ever uncovered?

    Why in hell should a person subject their identity and private information to the whim of the trolls on the Internet in any capacity, just to "prove" they aren't hiding something sinister? Try proving there WAS something sinister, I'll certainly take that complaint more credibly.

    Internet anonymity is here to stay (as it should be) as there is no proof positive way to identify other Internet going users without subjecting them to very real risks in meat-space (stalkers, or worse). Come to think of it there are very very few ways to positively identify people in meat-space (even with fingerprints and SSN cards) let alone verify their intentions...

    It is ALWAYS up to you, the reader, browser, and consumer to attempt to determine truth and fiction based on your own balance of values, experiences, and interpretations. Use your own trust network to find that out for yourself. Come back and stir the pot once you have something more legitimate than a suspicion about someone else's suspicion about someone else's theory. Second hand truth is better than third hand theory in my opinion.

    If you think there is bias in her reporting then go ahead and think there is bias in her reporting. Seek another truth if you believe it to exist. However, in that same stroke, the air of credibility seems to be on PJ's side to many many people. I have found minimal reason to be concerned personally with whether or not she WAS hired. I'm just glad to be informed of her take on the matter.

    However, you are perfectly free to be paranoid about her identity all you like, but expecting her identity to be proven in an environment of suspicion is just stupidity. Being proven so you feel better about it is simple idiocy.

    Fanatics and conspiracy nuts will always be good at inadvertently burying the truth when it comes out in a sea of accusations anyways because people are blinded by their opinions. So what does it matter? The truth could already have been said.

    - Toast

    P.S. Nothing personal, I'm having my second Monday of the week here at work...

  • Re:Im troubled (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jonbryce ( 703250 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @05:59PM (#26349633) Homepage

    I would like to hope that they cover software patent cases, RIAA/MPAA cases and any other relevant technology law cases that might come up in the future.

  • by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:08PM (#26349763) Journal

    I think this would be a good time to seek some formal honours for PJ. Granted she has all the respect she has earned from the community over the course of the SCO epic, but it would be nice to find some appropriate gesture to show her in some tangible way just how valuable we believe she is as a person.

    I don't know what she includes in her formal qualifications, but an honourary doctorate from some high profile law school (whether she has an LLD already or whatnot) would probably not go astray. For that matter, I wouldn't think a Presidential Medal of Freedom would be inappropriate either, but that's just me. PJ has not been just a breath of fresh air, she's been the only air we had. To honour her appropriately for that accomplishment would also be to honour an example of where people exercised their democratic right to resist bullying by people who see the courts as just another business tool.

  • Re:Im troubled (Score:5, Insightful)

    by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@yah o o .com> on Tuesday January 06, 2009 @06:29PM (#26350065)

    Which trial are you referring to? There are multiple cases still pending.

    What cases? The only one that matters, SCO already lost. They do not own the copyrights that everything else rests on.

    They're appealing that, but a decision already exists. And given that, there are no cases currently "pending" that I know of - Novell had already waived IBM's licensing responsibilities, and they reiterated that after winning their case against SCO. So SCO has no basis on which to sue IBM. And they owe Novell a bunch of money - probably more than they can afford and stay in business.

    There might be a few minor claims remaining related to financial things that SCO has against IBM, but it's no longer a major case even if so. More of a minor business dispute.

    If SCO somehow wins its appeal, then sure. But the one case upon which everything else hinges is already decided; it would need to actually be overturned for any other cases to go forward. And judges don't like to overturn other judges without a really good reason. (And as PJ points out, it's not like SCO can present any further evidence - the new judge looks at the same evidence.)

  • by Mspangler ( 770054 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @12:05AM (#26353475)

    to take your points in order;
    1) SCO's cases are moot if they do not own the copyrights. They don't have standing to sue. The cases are dead. Even SCO has admitted as much. Since no new evidence can be submitted on appeals, and SCO has no, none, zero, zip written evidence to support their claim that they got the copyrights, and Novell has reams of evidence that copyrights were deliberately excluded from the sale, SCO is wasting everyone's time. Speculation has it they are delaying long enough for (mis)-management to make their getaway with whatever boodle they can sneak off with, then the last one there will file to convert to chapter 7, or complete liquidation.

    2) Novell has a contract with IBM. A non-terminable contract. If they were to renege, IBM's lawyers would roll over them like a tide. Furthermore, Novell has already granted IBM a waiver for any code IBM may have inadvertently released. Evil Novell obliterated it's ability to contest anything IBM may have done from that point on out. As for the rest of Unix, the terms of the BSD settlement are now public. Unix is free, with the sole exception of code written by old SCO/caldera/new SCO after Novell sold the Unix business (but not the copyrights). Even is that code were to become available, no-one will ever read it.

    3) That point is valid. Very valid. Having failed to kill Linux with copyright, Microsoft will now try to do it with patents. Ballmer has explicitly said so. So Groklaw is not going away, just going into watchful waiting mode while cleaning out the electronic garage and doing some filing.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @01:07AM (#26353965)

    Actually, society (well, the US) is running Open Source software.

    It's just that instead of letting talented programmers contribute, we choose random dudes from the crowd to authorize patches. Some of them have coded, many have not. Most haven't read the original specifications document, and some refuse to.

    We also randomly cut snippets of code out of the system when a sploit is discovered.

    Sometimes we invite the black hats to approve code, and sometimes the patch managers are paid by the black hats to install keyloggers at random.

    It's just that the kernel is (so far) stable enough that we haven't had a system crash in about 200 years. The financial drivers have created a buffer overflow, leading to a money leak, and it's playing heck with other devices that need DMA (direct money access).

  • by burning-toast ( 925667 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @03:36AM (#26354835)

    And so is the desire to remove anonymity. Both are acceptable.

    Anonymity should be an even exchange for credibility as I see it. Since you could meet me in meat-space and I could lie to you about everything from my identity down to my intentions what can you prove simply by knowing my "name" or "address"? Hell, I could even gather up some paid "friends" to spread some good rumors about what my intentions are too (just for good measure). Volunteering your real identity to add credibility to something you say is nothing more than a token gesture to me. The rest of what you say has to jive too.

    On the flip side, protecting my real identity when I'm online is relatively important at all times to my real physical safety and well being. I won't consciously make it easier for some nut-job which doesn't like what I have to say to find out who I really am. And I'm not even a high profile target. Knowing who I am reflects nothing of the credibility of what comes out of my mouth in all reality.

    Once you have been misdirected to arguing the facts of the presenter instead of the facts of the matter everything you will do is an exercise in straw-man assembly and inspection and rarely will you ever get anywhere productive at all.

    - Toast

    P.S. Thought for the day: When you argue with someone. Are you the type which calls their character into question before or after you call their argument it's self into question?

  • by lamapper ( 1343009 ) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @04:18PM (#26362383) Homepage Journal
    This is the best reason for everyone to cache a copy of anything important they reference, as one day, someone will remove it from the web for a variety of reasons. Don't let the revisionist be the only view of what actually happened!

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.