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Open source safe from lawsuits

    In response to the April 16 Perspectives column by Steven J. Frank, "Will patents pillage open source?":

    Hogwash! Open-source software will never be the subject of massive lawsuits for one key reason: You can get the source.

    This "feature" puts any plaintiff in the position of demonstrating where in the code any supposedly infringing material exists, tipping the legal balance rightfully back to the defense.

    Certainly, companies like SCO Group may attempt to get money from others using the time-tested legal principle of "It costs less to settle." But even this method of legal proceeding is bound to fail, because there will be almost no cost to the defendant during the initial wrangling/discovery phase of any action. The defendants (if truly innocent) will always get a better deal in front of a jury than they would during the lead-up to trial.

    In IBM's case, it can simply show records pertaining to who worked on what during the supposed infringement period. The source code is already being distributed for examination by both parties (at SCO's expense.)

    IBM's answer now is simply, "Where is the offending code?" In essence: Put up, or shut up.

    Dan Devine
    Seattle