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Two Nice Things for Groklaw
Monday, October 10 2005 @ 10:54 PM EDT

A couple of nice things have happened. First, CNET has a new feature, a section highlighting the top 100 blogs, and Groklaw is one of the ones chosen in the legal category. Groklaw and Larry Lessig's blog. They explain their purpose in doing this:
With more than 14 million blogs in existence and another 80,000 being created each day, how is a person supposed to find the ones worth reading?

That is the question CNET is attempting to answer with our first Blog 100 list. . . . Blogs have become an important source of information, but the signal-to-noise ratio makes it hard to find the gems. In our pursuit, we spent weeks checking out technology-oriented blogs based on the recommendations from our reporters and readers.

I'd like to say welcome to any new readers just discovering Groklaw.

The second nice thing is an article on about Groklaw, "Lawyers Flock to Mystery Web Site's Coverage of SCO v. IBM Suit," where Groklaw is praised by lawyers on *both* sides of the SCO litigation. Yes, Boies Schiller. Praising Groklaw.

Here are some highlights from the article:

Jones . . . is the definitive source for information on the SCO litigation. . . .

"I challenge my colleagues in the bar to find a case that is watched at this level of detail," said Morrison & Foerster partner Michael Jacobs, who is representing Novell Corp. in related litigation. . . .

MoFo's Jacobs has even used Jones' analysis of one of his reply briefs as a training tool for associates.

"When she parses our briefs, it's extraordinary," Jacobs says. . . .

Lawyers involved in the litigation have also used her site to find legal documents and track the history of the case.

"I've never seen anything like it myself," said Michelle Miller, one of the vice chairs of the litigation department at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr who represents DaimlerChrysler and Red Hat in separate SCO suits. She said her firm would find things on the site before the court sent out a notice.

Of course, I had to know what article Jacobs uses for training, so I contacted the reporter, Brenda Sandburg, and asked her. This is the one, she said, and to tell you the truth, I worked so, so hard on that article that when I read that it is being used that way, it was a wonderful reward.

The reporter contacted Boies Schiller too, and they said they read Groklaw and according to the article, respect my "attention to detail". Ted Normand said this:

"What I admire about [the Web site] is the effort and intensity and constancy," said SCO lawyer Edward Normand, a partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner.

Of course, they feel I don't praise them sufficiently and am slanted toward IBM.

I think they could have been more effusive in their praise and are slanted against Groklaw, and that's why they accuse it of bias, to undermine Groklaw's credibility.

: )

Normand expressed his feelings this way:

Normand does say Groklaw's pro-IBM slant can be misleading. "In the past 10 or 12 months of litigation there have been some pretty bad rulings for IBM, but it would be hard to tell from reading Groklaw that they are bad," Normand said. For example, he said, the court denied IBM's motion for summary judgment and ordered the company to produce information in discovery.

So SCO imagined. They got a dose of reality regarding that discovery fantasy on October 7th at the hearing. And IBM's summary judgment motions were not denied, period, stop. They were denied without prejudice to renew or refile after the close of discovery. It was more like a postponement. SCO's motion was denied with prejudice, in that same order. Just clarifying so you are not misled.

I'm not biased in my coverage of the legal matters. I try hard not to be, anyway, despite having a personal preference as to the outcome. But by now, I can see which way the wind is blowing, barring anything new, and so I point thataway. It'd be a crying shame if I didn't have a viewpoint by now, covering the case every day since May of 2003. I didn't start with one, though, not on the contract or the copyright issues, as you can verify in the first interview I ever did. When I was asked to predict the outcome, back then I said I really didn't know. Back then, I didn't.

I did know the GPL, and I always knew it was SCO's Waterloo, and my understanding made it possible to stand on solid ground as to the outcome of certain issues with certainty. I hoped SCO's allegations of owning the copyrights and copyright infringement against Linux were false, but I wasn't positive they were 100% doomed at the very beginning. But from early on I was pretty sure the latter were, because I understood the tech, I knew the development process pretty well, and I knew no one in his right mind would copy proprietary code and try to slip it into the Linux kernel, because the kernel development is all done in public. How stupid would he have to be? And I knew Linus' character and the FOSS culture made that incredibly unlikely. On the contract disputes, I kept a totally open mind until we got to see the contracts. After that, it wasn't hard to figure out who was who in this picture. But my point is, I didn't start where I am now, not on the legal issues. I always hoped to help prove SCO wrong, but with evidence and research and provable facts, not with bias.

Groklaw does more than one thing. Covering SCO is just one of those things. Groklaw does have a point of view about Linux, and the GPL, and GNU/Linux software, and when we do antiFUD articles, it's obvious what that is:

Groklaw's bias is, Groklaw prefers truth to FUD.

That is a bias I am glad to own up to. That is why Groklaw always gives you facts and links to proof, so you can verify everything. I do love using GNU/Linux software, and I value the freedoms the GPL guarantees. But when it comes to analyzing the legal events, I call it like I see it. If I picked up a rock and found something damaging to IBM's case, I'd report it fairly, just like any other journalist. Well, maybe more fairly than some.

I try always to be honest with my readers. I wrote that I wasn't happy with Wells' discovery order, that I thought she didn't understand the tech, but then she reconsidered it, and from then on, it's been pretty much the way I anticipated. I do always try to show respect to the court. Maybe some think I am biased for not ripping judges to shreds, but I'll never do that here. Even if I don't agree with a decision, I'll always show respect, because of my personal beliefs. I am biased toward being respectful, if you will.

I viewed the discovery order as a mistake, though, and I said so, but I had confidence in Wells that she would figure it out and correct it in time, and she did. There is a difference between being biased and being astute. I was right, as it turned out, about the interpretation of the discovery order. That isn't bias. It's just being right.

Anyway, I wanted to say thank you to all the attorneys who praised Groklaw, on both sides of the aisle. I appreciate it very much, and I am very glad you find Groklaw useful. I want Boies Schiller to know that Groklaw is open to any of their lawyers who wish to write articles for us, and if that isn't possible now, contact me after you lose. I will admit that the skill set you guys manifest is impressive, as far as keeping the ball in the air as long as you did, and when this is over, we'd seriously love to hear you tell about how you do it. Even now, if you wish to explain some non-SCO related legal topic, you are welcome to.

The same offer is extended to all the participants. Naturally, I don't expect to hear from anyone willing to write about the SCO litigation until all appeals are exhausted.

I'm sure that is the correct adjective too. Exhausted.

This case is history in the making. I believe classes in law school will be taught about the case. We've seen some spectacular law practiced. So I hope you will all help us to complete our history project here on Groklaw, when it's all said and done, and there are no more appeals.

The media always tries to slant articles by writing about me, no matter what I say, which is a bit annoying. [Hint to media: if you want to interview me more than once, don't do that, please.]

Groklaw is a group project, which is why it doesn't matter who I am. That is why Groklaw can do all the things that the lawyers are so amazed by. It's Open Source principles applied to legal research, just one of many projects made possible by the Internet and by thinking in new ways. Thank you, guys, for inventing the Internet and not patenting it or padlocking it with proprietary standards. It makes Groklaw possible. It gave birth to Linux. And thank you to Linus, for figuring out that what the Internet is particularly good for isn't just ads or selling toasters. Frankly, if I were advising a spy agency, I'd tell them to do it like this. If I were a CEO of a business, I'd do something like this to tap into this power.

People all over the world can cooperate on work without having to be in the same room. I hate to break it to the airline industry, but no one actually has to fly anywhere now. It's that simple, and it's the secret to Groklaw's capabilities. If you imagine I could do Groklaw single-handedly, you are very much mistaken.

So, I want to say thank you to all the thousands of volunteers, now more than 9,000 in number, who contribute information, links, suggestions, articles, research, corrections, eyewitness court accounts, documents from Pacer and courthouses, plain text transcripts of PDFs, translations, static page maintenance, and technical support to make Groklaw a resource the world finds useful and, some say, amazing. When it's all over, and the bully is no longer threatening everyone in the playground, we'll put up a credits list.

And to the attorneys out there, Groklaw's readership is huge now, and they are deeply interested in the law. Groklaw has proven that the law interests millions of people outside the legal field, if you explain it so they can understand it. So if you wish to explain some aspect of the law in an article for us, we are very glad to have it. It doesn't have to be about the SCO litigation. Here are some topics I'd like to have covered:

  • Gotchas in legal research
  • How copyright works as compared to patent law, and the difference between the two
  • Copyright law as applied to software as opposed to literature
  • Anything at all about patent law, to explain why it's so costly and uncertain as to outcome, with examples
  • How standards get adopted
  • Reverse engineering - where can you safely do it and where can't you?
  • How a litigator plans a case from the beginning
  • How discovery works
  • Ethics and and law - how bad does it have to be before an attorney is sanctioned and how does that process work?
  • If you are nonUSA based, can you explain a bit about the law in your area, as it applies to copyright, patents, or the GPL?

Those are just suggestions, and if you think of something that you think is more interesting, just let me know. If you click on the little yellow envelope on the left, you can email me. The only restrictions are essentially the same as in our comments guidelines. Stay on topic, please, remembering our audience is international.

The same offer is extended to CEOs and other executives out there. If there is something you'd like to say, we'd like to hear from you. If, for example, you are considering switching to Linux, what holds you back? What are the specific things you look for and need from software? What would you like the FOSS community to focus on? If you have made a switch, partially even, how did it work out? Have a license horror story? We're interested. Keep in mind that Groklaw has an international reader base, so if your story is about New Zealand or Finland or Hong Kong, we're still interested. We have volunteer translators who can help, if there is a need.

I started Groklaw in part because when I read Slashdot, I saw a hunger to understand the law but a lot of ignorance about it. One result of the Internet is that laws about copyright, for example, impact individuals, not just companies, as was the case in the past. And yet, many don't understand the process or the law. I believed that if someone explained how it works, people would appreciate the information, that they would care.

It's so easy and pleasant to explain something you love to people who want to learn about it. Try it. You'll see.

As for my alleged mystery, I just don't like the focus to be on me, that's all, and that's been true from the beginning. And now, it's obvious there's an added factor. I'm also trying to stay safe. No mystery there. Anyone trying to "out" me now could end up responsible for any untoward results. I am confident Boies Schiller will advise its client to avoid, whether directly or by surrogates, any illegal actions against me or my family. Tell them to avoid the merely smarmy, too, while you are at it, will you? And just so you know, the litigation mentioned in the article the lawyers were all laughing about was dropped.

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