Groklaw Calling It Quits After a Job Well Done

Groklaw will stop publishing new articles May 16 — exactly eight years to the day after it was launched.

This is because its reason for existence is gone, according to founder Pamela Jones.

“In a simple sentence, the reason is this: The crisis SCO initiated over Linux is over, and Linux won,” Jones said in a blog post.

Over the years, the Groklaw blog has helped pick apart SCO’s case as that company tried to take control of Linux, suing IBM and threatening Linux users in the process. It became a beacon for the free and open source software community, and won a few awards for its efforts.

“[Pamela Jones] is someone who made a lot of intellectual property litigation accessible to people who didn’t have a law degree,” Bill Roth, chief marketing officer at LogLogic, told TechNewsWorld.Roth launched while he was at Sun Microsystems.

Jones did not respond to LinuxInsider’s requests for comment by press time.

Fighting the Good Fight

Jones launched Groklaw in an attempt to teach herself blogging, she has said. She then began focusing on explaining legal news with a focus on the FOSS community.

That led her to cover various lawsuits in which the SCO Group, initially Caldera Systems, was involved. Groklaw also ran articles criticizing Microsoft’s attempts to fast track OOXML as an ISO standard.

These efforts led to accusations that Jones was associated with IBM, which SCO was suing over the question of Linux patents; to SCO’s attempt to subpoena her in 2007; and to various other actions that she painted as a coordinated effort to discredit Groklaw.

There was widespread, but unsubstantiated, suspicion that SCO may have behind many — if not most — of the attacks on Jones, and she made no bones about her opinion of SCO and other companies that were trying to kill open source, in her view.

“These companies play hardball,” LogLogic’s Roth said when asked to comment on whether lawyers from SCO and Microsoft may have gone after Jones. “It’s all part of the territory.”

The attempts to discredit Groklaw included an expose written by Maureen O’Gara that purported to unmask Jones. That article, which contained unverified personal information about her, backfired — with the publisher, Sys-con, undergoing a barrage of complaints, among other things.

Further, the entire editorial staff of LinuxWorld, which was a Sys-Con publication at the time, resigned in protest over the O’Gara article, which they said violated journalistic ethics.

Sys-Con apologized publicly to Jones and claimed to have removed O’Gara from its list of authors.

Community Accolades

In March of 2008, Groklaw was announced as one of the recipients of the Free Software Foundation’s award for projects of social benefit.

In 2010, Jones was one of the four winners of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer award.

Other awards: placement on Datamation’s Top 200 Tech Blogs list in 2009; the Knowledge Masters Award for Innovation in 2008; the Best FUD Fighter award in 2007; and three awards in 2004, including one for the best independent tech blog.

Time to Saddle Up and Go

It’s not as if Jones is under any illusion that the battle for Linux is over.

“There will be other battles, and there already are, because the same people that propped SCO up are still going to try to destroy Linux,” Jones wrote when announcing her decision to close down Groklaw.

However, the battleground has shifted and Groklaw is no longer needed, she said.

“Groklaw was created to fight SCO, and most of their funding came because of that,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“Once SCO lost, the funding dried up,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Their reason for being has gone.”

White Knights Still Needed

“I wish they’d stay open, because she was doing some powerfully important work,” LogLogic’s Roth said.

“As long as you have powerful companies with enormous patent portfolios and aggressive lawyers, Linux will remain threatened,” he pointed out.

“It’s a shame Groklaw’s closing, because I think they could have provided an ongoing service,” Enderle said.

If Groklaw were to remain open, who’d run it? Jones has already said she’s got other projects she wants to work on.

“There are other people who could rise to the challenge,” LogLogic’s Roth remarked. “Mitchell Baker of the Mozilla Foundation is somebody who could very easily step into this.”

Baker is chairperson of the Mozilla Foundation and former CEO of the Mozilla Corporation.

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