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March 04, 2004
Court Using Linux Hears Lawsuit Claiming Linux Infringes Copyright
I don't post much about the ongoing SCO v. Linux lawsuits, though heaven knows there is much to discuss in the case. For incredible, indepth, precedent-setting blog coverage of these lawsuits, see the justly famous Groklaw.
Most recently, SCO has begun suing not only distributors of Linux, but users as well. In the first case brought against an end-user, SCO has sued Autozone for using Linux and thus violating SCO's copyrights (It's Autozone). All well and good, but there is something unusual about the case.
Netcraft is not involved directly in the case, it is an English company that conducts research and analysis on the internet. According to their about page, since 1995 they have been,
a respected authority on the market share of web servers, operating systems, hosting providers, ISPs, encrypted transactions, electronic commerce, scripting languages and content technologies on the internet.
Thus, it is no surprise that they would check up on what systems the court involved is running. They report that some of the computer systems for the court in charge of the SCO v. Autozone lawsuit run on Linux (Court that will hear SCO v AutoZone lawsuit itself runs Linux). Indeed,
Plaintiffs filing lawsuits must enter copies of their legal documents in Adobe PDF format in the court's Linux-based Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) system, which will provide electronic updates of case information for the litigants and their lawyers.
This, I think, is a first. I have no idea if there is a precedent for this sort of thing. Here you have a court that is engaged in precisely the same conduct the plaintiff complains of. If a judge did this it would not only be an appearance of a conflict of interest, it would be a conflict of interest and clear case for recusal. What do you do when the court administration is involved? Can an entire court recuse itself? Is there any rule or precedent for this?
In related news, SCO public relations people continue their so-far successful campaign to get the world to hate them by comparing themselves to the RIAA ('We're just like the RIAA,' says SCO).
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