Rememberings of Pamela Jones
This whole court case brings me back to the SCO/IBM trial. SCO with grandiose claims, and no facts. It’s just like Oracle’s grandiose claims with no facts. I think that Oracle saw that parallel too, and saw the influence one person had over the SCO/IBM case. Pamela Jones, or pj for short. For those who are unaware, Pamela Jones was the founder of Groklaw. Groklaw covered legal news that was interesting to the free and open source software community. Of particular interest to the free and open source community at the time was the SCO/IBM trial, and Groklaw spent a great deal of time focused on it.
I shouldn’t say “focused”. I should say that Groklaw systematically destroyed any and all claims made by SCO. It really didn’t stand a chance.
History Repeating…. well Not Quite
Oracle must have remembered what happened to SCO at the hands of Groklaw. Rather than try to avoid that, they tried to turn it to their advantage. Oracle thought that if they had their very own Pamela Jones, they could easily take Google down. Enter Florian Mueller.
Mueller wrote some computer books in the 80s, and then did some publishing and distribution. He did some marketing, and founded a game company that went nowhere. After that, he campaigned against European software patents (failed at that too), and then had enough and focused on Soccer. His first post on his blog appeared on Saturday, April 3rd, 2010. Four months and change before Oracle sued Google for various copyright and patent infringement claims.
Mueller took notice of the Oracle/Google case right away, and wrote prolifically about it over the course of the case. Seldom was a positive thing said about Google. In April of 2012, Mueller decided that “transparency” was suddenly important and admitted to being on the payroll at Oracle.
Outcome of the Case
So how did things work out? Well, depends on if you’re a fan of Open Source, or if you’re Florian Mueller. Like almost every other venture Florian Mueller has been involved in, he failed. Oracle was decimated in the courts, and won only a tiny sum based on a Copyright that no one is even sure is going to be valid yet. It could be that Oracle walks away owing Google.
Why Didn’t It Work?
So, why did the this method work so well in the SCO/IBM trial, and work so poorly in the Oracle/Google trial? It’s all about the community.
Pamela Jones wasn’t interested in being known. She didn’t even tell people her name at first (she just went by pj), and there’s still only a handful of people that have met her. Florian Mueller has a big “ABOUT ME” page right on his blog with links to a brief but puffed up profile (“award-winning intellectual property activist-turned-analyst”). The profile even has a nice vanity picture where Florian looks like he’s got enough make-up on to walk the catwalk in Milan.
Pamela Jones was interested in facts. Florian Mueller was interested in lining his own pockets with Oracle’s money, and he was willing to do anything and say anything to do it.
Due to her honesty and integrity, Pamela Jones developed a loyal following in the FOSS community. Due to deep pockets Florian Mueller somehow managed to get an unexpected number of tech journalists and bloggers to believe he knew what he was talking about, at least some of the time. Despite that, he never got the community support that Pamela Jones did.
No, Florian Mueller turned out to just be another blow hard, and Pamela Jones knew he was on Oracle’s payroll long before he admitted as such.
In short (to paraphrase), I knew Pamela Jones Mr. Mueller. Pamela Jones was a friend of mine. Mr. Mueller, you’re no Pamela Jones. (I actually don’t know pj, but I wish I did.)