You Can Pay Me Now, Or You Can Pay Me Later
SCO has given Linux users a choice. They can either pay them a ton of money now, or pay them two tons of money later.
There are two reasons to not like SCO very much: a good one and a bad one.
The good reason is the belief that they have little to stand on and that this is 99% bluff.
The bad reason is that they’re aren’t acting “nice.”
Show me where “not acting nice” is a crime, or gets you off anything illegal you’ve done.
Let’s say you owe taxes, and the tax man comes to collect your car. It’s hard to be “nice” doing that, especially in the eyes of the takee. But even if he’s a bit rude about it, you don’t get your car back. You don’t get your tax annulled.
Now if the tax man takes your car when you don’t owe any tax, even according to the tax authorities; that’s a different story. You get your car back even if the tax man was the sweetest guy in the world.
That’s what this case boils down to. Does SCO have the goods on Linux users, or don’t they? If they do, lack of niceness is completely irrelevant. If they don’t, then, and only then, maybe, might their tactics matter.
What would I do if I were in some Linux users’ shoes? Would I pay them?
What I would do is simply ask them, in writing, certified mail and all, “You claim the product I’m using infringes your copyright. Show me. Where?”
In other words, call the bluff, and see what they do.
Update: Great minds think alike. 🙂 Red Hat is now calling the bluff. This is how you handle the situation (OK, there’s tons of whining in there, too, but the essential “put up or shut up” is there.)
If they don’t answer me specifically, I have written documentation that they refused to identify a copyright infringement as of a certain date. They’ll have a good time in court with that.
If they tell me about some code my machines don’t use, I’d tell them that.
If it is code my machines use heavily, I’d talk to my lawyers, though I would be heavily biased against shelling out.
What I would not do is whine and moan and call SCO names about it. That is a waste of my time and effort, and is just childish.
The Deeper Issue
It seems like a lot of Linux people think this is Family Feud. It isn’t. It doesn’t matter if every single Linux user says “No” and curses a blue streak to go along with it. It has absolutely no effect on the decision, one way or the other.
Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m very dubious about SCO’s claims. I would have to be given very, very good reason to change my mind about that.
But jumping up and down with like-minded people and going, “Woo, woo, woo, SCO sucks” is sandbox behavior. It’s absolutely meaningless and irrelevant to the subject at hand.
The reaction of many of the Linux folks is quite similiar to that of the P2People, and I think there’s a single, simple reason for that.
To many, the real outrage has nothing to do with the legitimacy or illegitimacy of SCO’s points.
Rather, it is outrage that anyone or anything outside the club can tell them what to do and stop them from doing what they want to do. In their minds, they are the law, and that’s that.
It’s a common thread in so many of the comments you see in both arenas. It says, “Go away. This is our own little world; you don’t set the rules, we do.”
I suspect this is the real underlying reason why the geek ghetto, reinforced by the teen ethos, acts the way it does, no matter how insane or ridiculous it appears to the outside world. If you don’t think you’re part of the world, why should you listen to it?
Unfortunately, it’s not a separate world, it’s just a ghetto. You can’t secede from the real world, and its rules apply to you.
I know that many, probably a majority of people interested in either issue don’t think like that. The ones who do realize they live in the real world may agree with the other worlders, but they have different, generally more rational and sane reasons to do so.
It’s a divide more people should be aware of, both in and out of the real world.