Summary: Not even a day goes by and the mobbyists already engage in revisionism and distortion of the truth about Groklaw; Techrights responds
THIS is sad to watch. As pointed out to us by a reader last night (see IRC logs, which we have finally caught up with), now starts the revisionism about Groklaw and about Pamela Jones, its esteemed and talented editor. She won’t be able to defend herself and rebut the spin for much longer as her online presence is strictly in Groklaw (due to imposters). We have already attempted to set the record straight, but some people insist on echoing the words spread in a PR-esque fashion by all the usual suspects. Examples of the arguments to watch out for are: 1) Pamela encouraged IBM to sue using patents (they forgot to mention that IBM was provoked to do this by an agitator and disrupter which is partly owned by Microsoft) and 2) Pamela celebrated Red Hat’s patents (well, she actually celebrated Red Hat’s ability to settle litigation by patent trolls, even in a GPLv3-compliant way). This recently developed into somewhat of an argument we intended to put an end to, not to restart
In many ways, the FSF et al. adopted a similar attitude towards patents. Eben Moglen, for example, thanked the OIN for shooting down attempts by Microsoft to pass Linux-hostile patents to patent trolls. Richard Stallman will address the general subject very soon and here is the abstract of his talk:
Richard Stallman will explain how software patents obstruct software development. Software patents are patents that cover software ideas. They restrict the development of software, so that every design decision brings a risk of getting sued. Patents in other fields restrict factories, but software patents restrict every computer user. Economic research shows that they even retard progress.
Meanwhile, as Groklaw helped highlight back in February, Microsoft seems to be turning Nokia into a patent agitator and Muktware claims that the Elop-led “Nokia Confirms They Are Stabbing The Free Software Community”:
Nokia has finally confirmed that they are closing the recently opened Symbian platform. Why is Nokia closing Symbian, when it could have had great potential by being taken care by a wider community? Could there be Microsoft influence? I don’t know.
I am upset with Nokia as the company has betrayed the wider free software community which believed, trusted and invested in platforms like Maemo, MeeGo and Symbian backed by the company. The promises that Nokia made to the free software community have been broken. It’s shameful.
The bottom line is, Groklaw was always against software patents. It actively preached against them and recognised them as a threat. In several E-mails before the weekend I discussed this with Pamela, who clarified her position but permitted no direct quoting (I had not asked for permission). So for anyone who is still fooled by defamation of Groklaw, rest assured that her site strives to deliver an accurate assessment, even if that sometimes mean that discomforting views will get across to readers.
Groklaw not only criticises software patents. Patents in general are in doubt over there and in last week’s news we found an article which gives method for swinging on a swing as an example. It’s titled “Patently absurd system encourages litigation, not innovation” and it says:
For those tempted to laugh it off as the antics of Aussies, note that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office saw fit in 2002 to hand a 5-year-old from Minnesota the exclusive rights to use, sell or license a method for swinging on a swing. (It will surprise no one that his father was a patent attorney.)
These are silly examples that point to a serious problem: Patent offices around the globe are apparently only too willing to grant rights to inventors who haven’t done a whole lot of inventing. And businesses are only too ready to rush their claims to court to gain an upper hand in the market or draw revenue from dubious innovations.
How about “methods for enticing users to access a web site” as the Indian press put it some days ago?
The doodles that Google puts out are pretty familiar to regular users. A recent one relates to Harry Houdini’s 137th birthday, showing a cute cartoon of a suited magician in broken handcuffs. What users may not know is that this doodle stands patented. For a minute, when I first read that, I was pretty amused. “No way!” was my first reaction. However, I took a minute to investigate and sure enough, on March 22, Google was granted a patent titled “Systems and methods for enticing users to access a web site”.
I dreaded scrolling down to read the claims-section of the patent; however, this patent only had four claims. Claims are essentially the heart of a patent application, upon which legal rights are granted/disputed.
Hey, Google, what the heck? Et tu, Google? We stand by our initial evaluation of Google's patent policy.
Moving on from the subject of patents, Groklaw is being defamed in other ways, quite notably by Microsoft Florian. He recycles not only false material from Dan Lyons about Groklaw being “funded by IBM” (a lie which IBM rebutted under oath in the courtroom); now he starts with the very old lie that Pamela does not exist or that the site is composed by a group of people. Well, Florian never shied away from lies, so there he goes again. Watch him getting all chummy with Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza [1, 2] and with Microsoft spinner Rob Enderle [1, 2, 3] these days over at Twitter. He mostly speaks to Microsoft people over at Twitter and it’s truly telling. This quite rightly upsets friends of the Groklaw site and one reader suggests (by E-mail): “now that PJ is closing up Groklaw, you might explain what Techrights is about and invite people over.” A member of Groklaw, “spaetz”, noted last night that: “I don’t CARE if she is a woman, a man or a whole legal department.”
Recently we’ve been getting people from Groklaw in the IRC channels and they are very insightful, even eager to help. If Groklaw will no longer be active we sure hope to provide them with a service comparable to News Picks and also some analysis, which is not as legalese-oriented and courtroom-based as Pamela’s (we are neither qualified to do so, nor have we the access to court documents).
Groklaw has been invaluable to us; we could not do without it. Regarding the Novell/CPTN situation, for example, Groklaw noticed the following:
Maureen O’Gara quotes Florian too, of course, which tells you all you need to know, I suspect. But if Florian were correct this time, as opposed to all the prior times, and this deal was a foregone conclusion, so to speak, why would FCO write to OSI at all? And yet… they did. OSI sent their response on April 4th, raising some rather serious questions, and in each case saying that OSI lacks the ability to know the answers, but the FCO has the means and the authority to look into the issues raised. But by April 12th? Does Florian ever predict the future in a way that predicts anything but success for proprietary players any more? List the urls, if you have any. And, more significantly, did he predict that the terms of the CPTN deal would have to morph into the form that they have, thanks to OSI raising concerns with the FCO?
In short, I suggest you wait and see what happens. He doesn’t know. The FCO didn’t write to him, you know, or ask for his views.
“A. [Maureen O'Gara:] PJ is the purported author of the Groklaw site.
Q. What is the Groklaw site?
A. [Maureen O'Gara:] It is a website that follows the SCO case — I should say cases, maybe, but –
Q. And then you did, in fact, write a story about PJ or Pamela Jones, didn’t you?
A. [Maureen O'Gara:] Yes.
Q. So, in 196, Stowell says in the subject line, “I need you to send a jab PJ’s way,” and that’s March 30 2005?
A. [Maureen O'Gara:] Yeah.
Q. And 197 is your May 9 to 13, 2005 issue of Client Server News 2000, correct?
MR. JACOBS: Your Honor, Novell moves into evidence D-14.
MR. NORMAND: No objection, Your Honor.
THE COURT: It will be admitted.
(Novell Exhibit D-14 received in evidence.)
A. [Maureen O'Gara:] Yeah.
Q. And the lead story is Who is Pamela Jones?
A. [Maureen O'Gara:] Yeah.
A. [Maureen O'Gara:] Yes.
Q. Is there — is there a causal relationship between Blake Stowell’s e-mail to you and the appearance of the story in Client Server News 2000, May 9 to 13, 2005?
A. [Maureen O'Gara:] No.
Q. You did it independently? You did the story on PJ –
A. [Maureen O'Gara:] I have reason to do a story on Pamela Jones that has nothing to do with SCO.
Q. And, in your — in that article you said, “A few weeks ago, I went looking for the elusive harridan who supposedly writes the Groklaw blog about the SCO v. IBM suit.” “
Later on, Maureen O’Gara and the Microsoft/SCO gang would try to portray Pamela as paranoid. As though she had no reasons to be concerned… and now they try to pretend she never existed, either. SJVN rebuts as follows, and not for the first time, either:
During those years, she was frequently attacked by people who claimed she was an agent for IBM. Her privacy was attacked by so-called journalists. Others claimed, and still claim to this day, that there is no PJ. That’s utter nonsense.
Pamela Jones does exist. I’ve met her several times and she’s a friend. She’s also a very private person in her personal life and frankly she doesn’t trust SCO, or its friends, as far as she could throw them. Since she’s been stalked by them, I can’t say that I blame her.
SJVN wrote about him meeting Pamela about 3 years ago when the same old lies about her existence had bubbled up to the surface again, seeking to discredit and de-legitimise the messenger of course.
There are other inaccurate claims about Groklaw; it is not really “Shutting Down”, as some people put it; it does not need Byfield’s “Eulogy”, either (he has been critical of Groklaw over the years, dismissing the likes of Groklaw as "conspiracy theorists"). He wrote:
When I got up this morning, the news was all over Facebook and the free software news sites: Groklaw, the site that was influential in the SCO legal cases, will stop publication on May 16. It’s news that I hear with decidedly mixed feelings.
Well, mixed feelings, eh? So now he can more easily pretend that freedom fighters as “anti-corporations” and/or irrational. To put the situation more correctly, Brad adds that “The site will remain active, and its archives accessible. But no new commentary will be posted.”
For those who are new to Techrights, our aim is to fight FUD which is aimed at Free software (against Linux, Android, and so on). As we mentioned briefly the other day, Gartner is the latest with the FUD baton [via Pogson] and people in Twitter are currently linking to our Gartner FUD and misconduct wiki page because they too realise that we have FUD in our hands. Those who are new to the site may wish to start familiarising themselves with the wiki. █