You know a year ago or two or three, SCO filling for bankruptcy would have been a huge headline. Nothing has shaken the open source world more than SCO’s lawsuit on IBM for allegedly stealing their intellectual property and putting it into Linux. Open source went from the innocence of sharing to a mine field of hurt over night. Communities like Eclipse understand the balance between commercial and open. Many do not, and SCO certainly did not. Open source was a threat and instead of finding a way to leverage it for their own good, they chose to attack.
But in a mess of technicalities, it ends up they didn’t have a leg to stand on in the first place. The apparent good heart of Novell, who apparently actually owns the legs, saved the day. Now we can rest and look forward to golden times. Or can we?
I actually think we got lucky. If SCO had been successful, what would that have meant to corporations contributing to and relying on open source software for their products. We certainly got a glimpse of that world as corporate legal teams maneuvered to protect their corporations’ interests. Pretty much all of the legal safety mechanisms in place at Eclipse is there for that reason. It’s frustrating at times, but they’re there for good reason.
There is still a lot of fear over the use of open source and I don’t think SCO filing for Chapter 11 is going to change that. New “villains” are on the horizon. Many will stay on the horizon visible enough to make people think. But I don’t think they’ll go away.
SCO has changed us forever. And maybe we’ll look back and say it was a good thing. But you have to wonder what the world would have been like if everyone embraced open source for the mutual good that it can be. But then, maybe it would still have looked a lot like Eclipse anyway…