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Update on the Subpoenas; and The Public Interest in a Free, Open Source OS
Saturday, November 15 2003 @ 12:28 AM EST

Just a quick update on the subpoenas. Linus' is for documents, not for him to be deposed, according to OSDL. And Richard Stallman tells me that so far he has yet to receive one. As for Linus, there is this official word from OSDL's web site:

"November 14, 2003 - The Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), a global consortium of leading technology companies dedicated to accelerating the adoption of Linux, today confirmed that both OSDL and Linux creator Linus Torvalds had received subpoenas on Wednesday from attorneys for The SCO Group. The subpoenas were issued in The SCO Group's pending litigation with IBM. The subpoenas request that OSDL and Torvalds produce documents for use in that dispute.

"OSDL has agreed to fund legal representation for Torvalds and any other employees of the Lab who may become involved in the litigation.

"OSDL is represented by AterWynne LLP."

So, OSDL will pay for Linus' attorney, whatever firm he eventually chooses to retain. The fact that they are asking for documents only doesn't mean they will never seek to depose Linus; it just means that those of you booking flights in your dream world to get to watch Linus and rms being deposed can stop daydreaming. It may happen down the road, but it doesn't look like it'll be now.

Anyway, not to burst any bubbles, but depositions are not generally open to the public. They usually happen in some attorney's office, not in a courtroom. That part comes later, and if it does, I'd pay to watch that myself.

Linux and the Public Interest

Anupam Chander, Visiting Professor at Cornell Law School and Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis, School of Law, has another groundbreaking article on GNU/Linux and SCO on Findlaw.

He is calling on U.S. legislators to step in and demand that SCO show its basis for its claims and protect the public interest in having a free and open source operating system. He says that while it is a good thing both IBM and Red Hat are fighting back in court, the public interest in the matter is so great that it should be protected by governmental intervention:

". . . it is in the public interest that Linux remain free. Increasingly, governments and companies are adopting Linux as the operating system on personal computers. (The city of Munich, Germany is one example.)

"Moreover, Linux is already popular among the computers that power the Internet; it represents a significant share of the market for computer servers. If running these servers requires paying SCO royalties, then cyberspace will suddenly become a lot more costly.

"But, to protect the government and the Internet's ability to rely on Linux, it's not enough that SCO's claims -- and the claims of IBM and Red Hat -- be fought out in court.

"Instead, it's time for U.S. authorities to intervene to force SCO to disclose the basis for its claim to own Linux -- so we can all see if that claim is bogus (as seems very likely) or legitimate.

"SCO's threats to sue are no longer just private disputes. They have become a matter of intense public interest. They threaten the ability of any and all of us to have access to a free, open source operating system. They threaten the very servers that support the Internet, and the computer systems that support governments and companies. It's time to make SCO show its cards, or fold its hand."

He points out that the Federal Trade Commission has the authority to call SCO to account for its claims. So do state attorneys general and he particularly mentions New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, CA's Bill Lockyer, and Roy Cooper of North Carolina as possibilitites to lead an investigation:

"And in examining these claims, the FTC and attorneys general should draw upon the community of programmers worldwide, who offer an amazing brain trust of public interested experts."

I knew you'd like that part.

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