SCO Vs. Blogger
February 13, 2007Boston - For three and a half years, a blogger named Pamela Jones has led a relentless online crusade against software maker SCO Group, posting thousands of articles bashing the company for suing IBM over the Linux operating system.
Now the Lindon, Utah, software company is fighting back by seeking to take a deposition from Jones. Just one problem: They can't find her.
SCO tried last week to serve a subpoena to Jones at a house in Darien, Conn., where they believe she's been living, but the attempt was unsuccessful, according to a person close to the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity.Why would SCO want to depose Jones? SCO officials declined to comment about the matter. But in the past, company officials have said that Jones and her blog, called "Groklaw," were acting as a front for IBM --an assertion they may hope to prove in a legal setting.
Lucy Dalglish, a First Amendment attorney and executive director of the Arlington, Va.-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press [ http://rcfp.org ], says Jones may have to comply with SCO's demands. But she also says the move may not accomplish much for SCO.
"My guess is if you go after a blogger, it'll provoke the blogosphere. It's a pretty stupid move," Dalglish says.
Other companies have taken legal action against bloggers only to have those actions backfire. In January, Apple was reportedly forced to pay $700,000 to cover the legal expenses of bloggers against whom it had tried to take legal action, thanks to the efforts of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco group that defends bloggers.
Jones did not respond to e-mail inquiries from Forbes. On Saturday, she posted an item on her "Groklaw" blog telling readers that she would be taking a "health break" for an unspecified amount of time. She did not mention SCO's attempts to serve her with a subpoena.
Jones launched her blog in May 2003, two months after SCO sued IBM over the Linux operating system.
SCO claims IBM took code from Unix, to which SCO claims to hold copyrights, and put it into Linux operating system, which is distributed at no cost. IBM denies SCO's claim and has filed a counterclaim against SCO.
Jones has said on her blog that she follows the SCO vs. IBM case simply because she is a Linux enthusiast and has a background as a paralegal. She claims she writes "Groklaw" as a labor of love.
Her blog provides day-to-day coverage of SCO vs. IBM and related cases, scrutinizing every motion and document filed and even digging up background information on the attorneys involved.
Since 2003, Jones has penned almost 3,000 well-written articles, many involving significant amounts of legal research and sophisticated analysis. Almost all of the pieces favor IBM.
Jones lists no address or phone number on her blog. It is not clear whether "Pamela Jones"--she also goes by "PJ"--is the blogger's real name or a pen name.
Jones also has criticized some journalists who cover the lawsuits, including this reporter, accusing them of being biased in favor of SCO.
In the past, SCO executives have said they suspect that "Groklaw" is actually being penned by a team of lawyers, and is funded by IBM.
Jones in the past has insisted that she has no connection to IBM and vice-versa. The company declined to comment for this article.
The SCO vs. IBM lawsuit won't go to trial until a related case, SCO vs. Novell, has been decided. That case, which is scheduled to be tried later this year, is the one for which SCO is attempting to take a deposition from Jones.
In SCO vs. Novell, software maker Novell, an IBM business partner, argues that SCO does not own the copyrights to Unix, and therefore SCO's claims against IBM are groundless.
Novell and SCO made a Unix licensing deal in 1995. SCO says that deal gave SCO control over the copyrights to Unix. But Novell says it still retains the copyrights.
If Novell prevails, SCO's claims against IBM would be washed up.
Novell has reason to help IBM. Novell is the second-biggest distributor of Linux. And in 2003, IBM invested $50 million into Novell to help build its Linux business.
Kenneth Brakebill, an attorney who represents Novell, confirmed via e-mail that SCO recently notified Novell that it intended to take a deposition from Jones.
A Novell spokesman, via e-mail, says the company is aware of SCO's intentions to take a deposition from Jones, "but we're not commenting."