Linux Gazette

From Academic Kids

The Linux Gazette is the name of two different monthly Linux webzines, though LinuxGazette.com is increasingly more an online community than a webzine. Both are part of the Linux Documentation Project and sisters of Linux Focus.

History

It was started in 1995 by John M. Fisk as a free service. He went on to pursue his studies and become a medical doctor. At Mr. Fisk's request the publication was sponsored and managed by SSC (Specialized Systems Consultants, who are also publishers of Linux Journal). The content has always been provided by volunteers, including most of the editorial oversight.

After those years the volunteer staff and the management of SSC had a schism (see Bifurcation below), and both groups still publish open content under the Linux Gazette name. Each is widely mirrored and SSC's version (located at the http://www.linuxgazette.com) borrows freely from articles published by the core volunteers prior to the schism (including "The Answer Guy," Jim Dennis) at the other site: http://www.linuxgazette.net. Both are released under the Open Publication License.

One way the Linux Gazette differs from other, similar, webzines (and magazines) is The Answer Gang. As well as providing a regular page devoted to questions and answers, questions to The Answer Gang are answered on a mailing list, and the subsequent conversations are edited and published as conversations. This started with an arrangement between Marjorie Richardson and Jim Dennis (who she dubbed "The Answer Guy"). She'd forward questions unto him, he'd answer them to the original querent and copy her on the reply; then she'd gather up all of those and include them in the monthly help desk column.

With its motto, "Making Linux just a little more fun", the magazine have always had a finger on the pulse of Linux's open, collaborating and sharing culture.

Bifurcation

Fisk transferred the management of the Linux Gazette to SSC (under Phil Hughes) in 1996 in order to pursue medical studies, on the understanding that the publication would continue to be open, free and non-commercial.

In October 2003, the Linux Gazette split into two competing groups: SSC claim that this split was based on their decision to use a CMS, making the Linux Gazette site technically similar to that of Linux Journal, the company's main magazine. It has since become more functional than Linux Journal's site, and has become an online community of note.

The change to a CMS was rejected by the then The Answer Gang-- which included the then editors of Linux Gazette and many of its regular authors--who have decided to continue the Linux Gazette in its original form, despite SSC requesting that they do not use the same name. SSC made this request as the publisher of Linux Gazette.

The staff of LinuxGazette.net, however, have said that their decision to start their own version of Linux Gazette was due to several factors: SSC's assertion that Linux Gazette would no longer be edited or released in monthly issues, as well as the removal of material from older issues without notifying the authors.

SSC has attempted to assert trade mark claims over the publication: in the words of LinuxGazette.com's editor Taran Rampersad "this is because if we do not do so we will lose the trademark. If the SSC trademark is lost, it is questionable that any group will be able to assure the name Linux Gazette is not used improperly. SSC does hold the original copyrights, though these copyrights are in the form of protection for contributors."

LinuxGazette.net contributing editor Rick Moen, however, addressed this claim in an article for LinuxGazette.net: "The very same day it received our notice of the magazine's departure, SSC, Inc. suddenly filed a US $300 fee and trademark application #78319880 with the USA Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), requesting registration of the name "Linux Gazette" as a service mark. On that form, SSC certified that it had used the mark in commerce starting August 1, 1996. ... SSC's recent legal claim to hegemony over the name "Linux Gazette" strikes us as outrageously unmerited, and cheeky: (1) We see no indication that Fisk assigned SSC commercial rights over Linux Gazette. If anything, Fisk made the opposite intention crystal-clear. (2) Separately and in addition, SSC's claim to have used the name in commerce starting August 1996 seems, to our knowledge, materially false. We can find no offering of commercial services under that name by SSC or anyone else. And last (also separately and in addition), (3) the attempt to use commercial trademark law as a ploy to strong-arm us a 100% non-commercial, volunteer-staffed community project is monumentally outrageous: It's inherent in the nature of trademark law that non-commercial uses simply cannot infringe trademark. Period."

However, SSC claim to have held a trademark in the State of Washington prior to this.

SSC claim to have tried communicating with LinuxGazette.net volunteers repeatedly, requesting that the LinuxGazette.net volunteers simply change the name to avoid problems. LinuxGazette.net volunteers do not feel that they need to change the name, and as such SSC feel it is apparent legal action shall be necessary.

See also: Computer magazine

External links

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