[linux-elitists] crinminal vs civil

Adam Kessel adam@bostoncoop.net
Sat Aug 9 09:36:52 PDT 2003

On Sat, Aug 09, 2003 at 08:39:21AM -0700, Wendell Cochran wrote:
> Almost everyone (as I see it) is treating SCO vs IBM as a criminal
> action, with much talk about how a judge will view things.  But why?
> It's a civil case -- & far fewer than 10% of civil cases ever go
> before a judge.  

FWIW, only a tiny fraction of criminal cases are decided by a judge (or
jury) either.  A vast majority of criminal defendants plead guilty.  In
that case, the judge's only role is to make sure the terms of the plea
agreement is proper.  

Otherwise, just because so few civil cases go to trial doesn't
necessarily mean that this one won't.  If you look at IBM's litigation
history, you'll see more than your fair share of actual judgments. I
haven't compared IBM's settlement rate with the average, but one strategy
large corporations often adopt is to litigate everything to the bitter
end to deter future plaintiffs.

Although I'm not really sure this case will end up "testing the GPL",
there may be several reasons why IBM would want to get a judgment rather
than a settlement, that aren't present in ordinary business contract
Adam Kessel
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