26 March 2008

Stepping on a geek's copyright OR what could have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship

I stepped up recently to help Dragos Manac with his Linux column in the Catavencu magazine (the print edition). Not for the money (it's a sum so low, I would be ashamed to tell and I can get better payment from other places) but for the greater good, for Linux, for glory and stuff like this.

This seems kind of fun job, I am used to write stuff (even if I usually write in English, a return to Romanian prose is refreshing), I have plenty of ideas in the queue and a lot of things deserve promotion. Being a mainstream magazine, is not hard, you have to touch light topics without entering into details.

All good until today, then the first piece was published. Attributed to someone else. And with someone else's website URL next to it. Sorry guys, but this is too much. I have to react.

I can accept it was an editor's mistake, without rushing to the "p" word. I may accept Dragos sent the correct text with the correct signature to the editor. But, frankly, I don't care. I don't care if it was a honest mistake, laziness, malevolence or something else. I want moral reparation.

Now here is the full text of the article, I have not signed anything with anybody, have received no payment (but have not asked for), have not waived my copyright, so sue me if you dare:

[copyright infringement?]

Of course, before going out in the blog with it I escalated to the proper channels: first to Dragos (an answer like "it's too late, nothing can be done now, the next number will have an article with the right credit" is not good enough), then to the magazine (no reply so far).

So disappointing when you put god faith in a thing and people don't give a rat's ass. If I publish content as GPL, CC-BY-SA and even PD that does not means I don't care about it. By the opposite.

Update: one week later, the next edition of the magazine published an errata. I am OK with them now (but only with them).


  1. Intentionam sa vin si eu cu cateva propuneri dupa ce am vazut anuntul de pe lug, dar chestia asta ma cam pune pe ganduri.

  2. Nicu,

    So long as you can prove you wrote this and didn't release it into the public domain, not signing a contract was their mistake, not yours. They have the burden to prove that they were authorized to publish the work or they are the ones in violation of your rights and the law.

    And if you produce the e-mails with Dragos regarding his promises to you (as an agent of the magazine) of what consideration would be provided, then he and the magazine are not only in violation of your copyright, but in breach of contract.

    The question is whether you want to hire a lawyer. They will likely remain arrogant and refuse to do anything until they get a letter from your lawyer that makes them willing to make amends rather than go through the expense of a law suit.

    If not, then you can just try to shame them as you're doing now, but unless that sparks a big grass roots movement among their readership (hundreds of people threatening to cancel subscriptions over their shoddy treatment of you), you likely won't get any satisfaction.

  3. Heh, what did you expect? Dragos has been known for years to wrap himself in the OSS flag not a second longer that it served his interests. He probably didn't even give it a second thought.

    IMHO, it's a symptom that the Romanian Linux/OSS community needs better (or at least more honest) advocates.

    As for the "friendship" part, consider it a learning experience and have your rights enforced before "giving them away".

    Posting as AC to avoid Dragos' well-known (and feared) flaming skills.

  4. Greg, I am aware about that but will not bother to pursue on the legal channels.

  5. anonymous, I understand you well. But I am not afraid to enter in a flamewar, I have nothing to lose.

  6. Nicu, as I said, tell me what the moral reparation should be. The article was written to promote Linux/FLOSS, not me. I've been writing these kind of articles for years now. I have nothing to gain if one more is signed by me or not. It was my mistake I did not make sure the signature was right. I apologize(d) for that. In the next article you will have the credits for both articles. As I said, it's not about who gets credit, it's about promoting Linux, a thing I'm not so sure needs to be done (by me, at least) with the anonymous cowards flaming, instead of doing something for the community.