From the confession of error:
In the print edition of Forbes there’s a great (albeit sometimes painful) tradition of doing “follow-through” articles where a reporter either takes a victory lap for making a good call or falls on his sword for making a bad one. Online publications don’t typically ask for follow-throughs. But I need to write one.
For four years, I’ve been covering a lawsuit for Forbes.com, and my early predictions on this case have turned out to be so profoundly wrong that I am writing this mea culpa. What can I say? I grew up Roman Catholic. The habit stays with you.
The case is SCO Group v. IBM. In March 2003, SCO sued IBM claiming that IBM took code from Unix–for which SCO claimed to own copyrights–and put that code into Linux, which is distributed free. Last month a judge ruled that SCO does not, in fact, own the Unix copyrights. That blows SCO’s case against IBM out of the water. SCO, of Lindon, Utah, is seeking bankruptcy protection.
In June 2003, a few months after SCO Group sued IBM over the Linux operating system, I wrote an article that bore the headline: “What SCO Wants, SCO Gets.” The article contained some critical stuff about SCO but also warned that SCO stood a chance of winning the lawsuit. “SCO may not be very good at making a profit by selling software. … But it is very good at getting what it wants from other companies,” I wrote. …
I reported what they said. Turns out I was getting played. They never produced a smoking gun. They never sued any Hollywood company.
Over time my SCO articles began to carry headlines like, “Dumb and Dumber,” “Bumbling Bully” and “SCO gets TKO’d.”
But I still thought it would be foolish to predict how this lawsuit (or any lawsuit) would play out. I even wrote an article called “Revenge of the Nerds,” which poked fun at the pack of amateur sleuths who were following the case on a Web site called Groklaw and who claimed to know for sure that SCO was going to lose.
Turns out those amateur sleuths were right. Now some of them are writing to me asking how I’d like my crow cooked, and where I’d like it delivered.
For some reason, a lot of technology journalism has devoled into hit-piece journalism, like the recent factually untrue CNET review of Lotus Symphony. Forbes, seeing blood in the water, did the same, attacking both a respected global services provider (IBM) and bloggers following the case (GrowkLaw), helping the corporate scheisters of SCO spread fear, uncertainy, and doubt.
But IBM was right, the blogs were right, and SCO (and the mainstream media in Forbes) were wrong. Now Forbes admits it.