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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Outing Groklaw & Open Source Bloggers

Anonymous blogging is becoming a risky proposition. And if you blog about legal issues related to open source, be prepared for real trouble. As part of its court case attacking Linux vendors and users, SCO has subpeonaed Groklaw blogger Pamela Jones, a frequent commentator on the SCO lawsuit. SCO intends to force Jones to sit for a deposition. Why? They claim Jones is somehow associated with IBM, or might even be one of its lawyers.

Even if true, what will SCO gain, other than the embarrassment of outing an online commentator or exposing how advocates use the Internet to project their views to the world? Groklaw posts about the SCO case are mainly commentary based upon court documents and filings. So SCO is basically harassing a blogger for her widely-read opinions (protected by the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution). Sounds like a cheap shot, and a move almost guaranteed to create a storm of bad press for SCO. And they would deserve it.

It is unclear what relevant evidence Jones (whoever she is) would have for the lawsuit and SCO. If she was a lawyer for IBM, any information beyond the blog posts would be protected by attorney-client privilege. If she is a paid mouthpiece for IBM or associated with it in some other way, nothing indicates that she has any information beyond what is publicly available in court documents. In the end, this looks like SCO attacking a person for her support for open source.

Allowing this subpeona of a blogger would set a dangerous precedent and send a chilling signal to anyone who posts online. Intimidation and reprisals should not be part of the blogging experience.

Categories: opensource, SCO, IBM, blogging

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