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IBM: No Indemnification -- SCO's Case Has Zero Merit
Friday, January 23 2004 @ 12:14 AM EST reports IBM said again at LinuxWorld that it has no plans to offer indemnification:

"'If we give indemnification, it does not get this over with. In our legal system, you go to court to get this over with. That's where we are putting our energy,' said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM's vice president of technology and strategy, during a LinuxWorld event. 'We believe the suit has zero merit. The right thing will happen. Let it play out.

"'Our customers have all the information. No community can feel better protected, given how this community has responded to the attacks.'

"Judging from the reactions of some enterprise users, IBM's strategy suits them just fine.

"'I have no problem with it, and I don't think their refusal to offer indemnification validates anything SCO has said,' said Joe Cooper, senior network engineer for the Bank of New York."

Regular readers of Groklaw know that I have issues with indemnification that seriously limits the freedom to modify code. The real way to make litigation-happy companies leave you alone, IBM is saying, is to litigate them into the stone age. You do that until copycats realize that Linux is not the low-hanging fruit they thought it was and go away, or more accurately look around for someone else to bother.

Longterm strategy is what you would expect from a company that has been around as long as IBM has. What I hear IBM saying is that they have no doubt of ultimate victory and they intend "to get it over with," meaning to make a decisive victory reverberate so loudly and so long that it will discourage future legal cowboys from approaching the GNU/Linux herd. Why SCO thought IBM would be a suitable target is beyond me. But nothing could have been better for Linux than to have IBM willing to stand up and carry this burden on Linux's behalf. They know how and they have the resources to get the job done thoroughly and well. When they tell me "the right thing will happen," I believe it, particularly because they didn't say a word until well into discovery. So that is good news.

In other news, Microsoft said today it is in discussions with the Indian government to let India see their source code. I hope India's government realizes the serious consequences that ensue if programmers look at Microsoft code. It seems a defining fork in the road for a programmer and I hope nobody takes Microsoft's offer up without discussing it with an IP attorney first. In the case of India, likely the implications are understood, as Subra writes to me about India's "techie President":

"The Govt. of India, led by its techie President, Mr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (who is a Ph.D and has led most of the defence and space programs in India before becoming the non-executive President), has spoken many a time about full-scale adoption of free and open source software, as it would save tons of money for a developing country like India, as well as provide the freedom to customise most of the needed software into multiple languages. This last part is critical in a linguistically and politically diverse country like India."

No doubt Mr. Kalam's viewpoint influenced Microsoft to make its offer. Perhaps you would be interested in reading an article on the SCO case from an Indian author, Rajeev Srinivasan, from September. My favorite part, when describing why Linux is becoming so popular there:

"But Linux, free from the institutional greed that killed Unix's chances, has thrived. And it has found some strong backers, such as IBM. To a lesser extent, HP, Dell, and so forth, have also jumped on the Linux bandwagon, because they all recognize that Microsoft has been skimming away most of the profits through its monopoly on the operating system.

"The net result is that today one can buy a Linux-based PC for far less money than a Microsoft Windows-based PC. It will, it is pretty much guaranteed, work much better, and be less resource hungry: you don't have to throw away your computer every couple of years just because Microsoft's new OS is a resource hog.

"Linux, with its compelling advantages, has put the brakes on Microsoft's attempts to dominate the server market as much as it dominates the desktop market. It is much more robust, it costs essentially nothing; if problems are found, the army of Linux enthusiasts will fix them practically overnight . . ."

Darl likes to tell it that Linux destroyed Unix. This author says it was institutional greed. You know what institutional greed is, don't you, Mr. McBride? If not, I believe the rest of us could explain the concept using a modern-day example.

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