Microsoft lawyers who believed they'd buried the most embarrassing collection of documents about the company's murky past for good, without any one noticing, were in for a surprise this weekend. The archive has become a mainstay of the Bittorrent P2P file sharing networks.
A healthy 20+ seeds have been distributing the files for the past few days, at any one time.
We can't vouch for the completeness of the archive, which can be downloaded in a few hours, but it contains over 3000 files and adds up to 2.7GB. At first glance, several of the trial transcripts and plaintiffs' media updates are missing, from late January onwards.
When the Comes class action suit came to an abrupt end in Iowa two weeks ago, a mass of important documentation suddenly disappeared from view. Much of the material came from the Novell lawsuit against Microsoft, a case filed in 1996 settled in early 2000. Four years ago, The SCO Group decided it could no longer afford to keep 937 boxes of documents from the trial lying around, and ordered the material destroyed.
In fact no one did notice the disappearance of the material until our first story last week - and then quite a few people noticed.
We've been inundated by readers offering to host the material, many of whom alas have servers in the United States. This means it's potentially only a phone call away from a potential DMCA notice.
The material needs to find a home in a academic institution, which has the time to curate it, check for completeness, and put the material in context. And ideally this should be in a region beyond US jurisdiction - if there are any such places this side of Jupiter. (Perhaps the Gates Foundation can recommend somewhere).
For now, however, Bittorrent appears to be doing the job for which it was designed. ®