|| ||Rick Moen <rick-AT-linuxmafia.com>|
|| ||Alan Cox <alan-AT-lxorguk.ukuu.org.uk>|
|| ||(forw) Re: Linux Gazette|
|| ||Sat, 13 Dec 2003 01:01:07 -0800|
In response to your Dec. 2 LWN post at http://lwn.net/Articles/61313/ ,
I've posted the clarification e-mail that follows from Linux Gazette
founder John M. Fisk with the following comment:
"I've received a reply on the whole commercial rights matter from John
M. Fisk, Linux Gazette's founder who turned leadership of the magazine
over to Phil Hughes and Linux Journal / SSC, Inc. In it, Fisk confirms
my understanding that he understood his agreement with SSC to involve
(1) a guarantee that LG would remain non-commercial, and (2) that Fisk
did NOT assign to SSC, Inc. any trademark rights.
It would appear that, in its current course of action, SSC, Inc.
attempting not only to run roughshod over a volunteer effort, but in so
doing is misrepresenting the nature and extent of its legal rights."
-- Rick Moen
Contributing Editor, Linux Gazette
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Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2003 09:30:08 -0500
To: Rick Moen <email@example.com>
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Subject: Re: Linux Gazette
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Hi Rick, thanks for writing. I'll try to address your questions below.
> Dear Dr. Fisk:
> You've probably been too busy with real life to notice, but we at
> Linux Gazette magazine have been having some problems of late. To
> make a long story short, because SSC announced intentions in 3Q 2003
> to effectively kill Linux Gazette by transforming it into a
> Slashdot-style Web discussion forum, and for several other reasons,
> the couple of dozen editors and staff unanimously voted to move the
> magazine away from SSC, to http://linuxgazette.net .
> Phil Hughes at SSC, Inc. has unfortunately been extremely vindictive
> about this, and is retroactively asserting commercial trademark over our
> magazine's name, and based on that is attempting to seize our Internet
> It would help us a great deal if you could confirm our understanding
> of your intentions in August 1996. Based on your wording in issue #8,
> we believe your understanding was that SSC would continue to operate
> Linux Gazette as a free, entirely non-commercial magazine alongside
> its commercial offering, Linux Journal. Can you confirm this?
This is correct.
Bear with me for a moment and I'll try to provide a bit of background. I had
started the Linux Gazette in early 1995, essentially as a means of learning
HTML and to provide an educational/entertaining resource for other Linux
enthusiasts. I had spent a bit of time lurking around various Linux related
USENET groups and found that although there was a good deal of useful
information there, the signal to noise ratio at times dipped pretty low.
I had no access to the internet, other than a 2400 baud dial up connection to
the Vanderbilt University VAX machine. A physics grad student, Tim, offered
to host it on a site that he was running, and that's where the LG got its
start. Throughout the early life the LG, I was always beholden to others to
the host the content.
My stated intention at that time was to start a monthly online magazine with a
variety of article formats: in-depth articles, short tips-and-tricks, email
correspondance, etc. It was always intended to be open (in the sense of open
to all contributors), free (in the sense of beer AND speech), non-commercial,
and "moderated" only in the sense that no flames or derogatory material were
going to be allowed. At the time, the Linux community was pretty small
(Patrick V. was just getting Slackware well established and Marc Ewing, Erik
Troan, and Donny Barnes were gearing up for RedHat!) and collegial.
It was an almost instant success in terms of community interest and took very
little time for several regular contributors to come forward and offer to
provide monthly articles of good quality. Within a year, I was getting
overwhelmed trying to provide the time to get new editions of the Linux
Gazette ready and sent out to the various hosting sites.
In 1996, I received an unexpected call from Phil Hughes at SSC with an offer
to take over the management of the Linux Gazette. He mentioned that he had
the personnel to handle the editing and distribution aspects and that he would
continue to make it available as it had been started - open, free, and
Phil was very pleasant and we entered into a "gentleman's agreement" that he
would take over management of the Linux Gazette and I would be able to retire
gracefully and continue to contribute as time allowed (which clearly, it has
not...) No money was exchanged during this transaction and no documentation
was created or signed -- we simply had an mutual verbal agreement.
They were good to their word and Marjorie Richardson did a wonderful job of
handling the early efforts of keeping the LG going. On my part, I returned to
residency in Pathology at Yale and am currently completing a fellowship in
Transfusion Medicine. I was delighted to have someone interested in the LG
and have greatly appreciated their years of dedication to it.
> Can you also confirm that you made no agreement with SSC, Inc. to
> assign them any trademark?
That is correct: the verbal agreement that Phil Hughes and I entered into was
that the Linux Gazette would continue as it had been started, the only change
being that SSC would take over the day to day management of it.
> I will stress that we bear absolutely no ill will towards SSC, Inc. or
> towards Mr. Hughes. We wish only to prevent his use of belated
> trademark claims to harrass the Gazette, after its departure from his
I'm deeply sorry to hear of this situation. Phil was a godsend and I
appreciate his efforts in keeping the LG going. I will demur on comment as to
whether moving to a "Slashdot Style" format is A Good Thing(tm) or not -- it
certainly was not my original intention.
It's unfortunate that a complementary solution could not be amiably arrived
at: a "two-site" Linux Gazette, as crazy as that sounds, wouldn't be entirely
a bad idea. As long as the two sites linked to each other, I could envision
having a Slashdot style site with daily chatter and such, and an ongoing
monthly online magazine as a complementary site for more currated content.
Just a thought...
> (The situation is admittedly somewhat more confused than that, but I
> was going to omit the gory details.)
Again, sorry to hear about this mess. I hope that it can be resolved in an
amicable fashion and that the community will support, rather than split from,
whatever is decided.
I wish you the best. The grace and wisdom of God be with you.
John M Fisk, M.D.
Transfusion Medicine Fellow, Department of Laboratory Medicine
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
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