SAM blog gets more heat from rival sneaking off to Melbourne IT domain name registry?
Topic: independent media
We have forwarded this recently to community media stakeholders for the sake of transparency:
"To pre empt any legally ill conceived claims that the blog name we are using is not allowed at law or ethics I am taking the step of explaining why we chose this namewww.sydneyalternativemedia.com/blog
or SAM as we refer to it in shorthand.
We arrived at our name via experience as a sometime media lawyer in NSW, and a year as a trade marks examiner in the Commonwealth Public Service, and 2 years as a corporate litigation lawyer, and 15 years as a community media practitioner.
"Sydney" because we are based here and do most of our work here, this word is public property
"alternative" because our blog is alternative not in the sense of sexuality but alternative to news missed by the Big Media, or critical of the Big Media/Big Govt, so it is genuinely different from other products. We also generate news stories. We say this is a word that belongs to the public and notice the uses in websites of others below.
"media" - again a commonly used word belonging to the public.
We set up the website when Sydney Independent Media went offline for about 2 months late 2006/2007. At the time we were working for Alternative Media Group in distribution, not writing or editing, and we got no complaints from either of them for the use of our name, and still haven't after 4 months but wonder if the owner of the AMG has evil intentions against us.
Is our blog name too similar, and thus confusing to the public as regards Sydney Indy/Independent Media website?
Well we say our use of the word "alternative" is sufficienlty different in the combination of words. Also we conduct ourselves to clearly indicate we are not part of the "official" indymedia network, though we like and support that global network. We transparently link over to their sites as a different thing. We have no complaints from their active network so far this last 4 months so we feel they are satisfied with this.
In fact we formed the sydneyalternativemedia blog because the Sydney Indy/Independent Media had gone offline for quite a few weeks and we needed an outlet for our stories to be published, first on Melbourne indymedia and then setting up our own website in the lead up to the NSW State election. In fact Melbourne indymedia didn't really want voluminous Sydney based election material which is fair enough.
Is our blog name too similar, and thus confusing to the public as regards Alternative Media Group (AMG)?
We say no. The word "Media" belongs to the whole sector, as indicated by Sydney Indy Media in the market place, and any number of other entities.
The word "group" is quite different being completely absent in our name.
Conversely we use "Sydney" which is absent from AMG name (perhaps because the owner is a US citizen who may not really identify with this locality as such but rather identifies with the 'alternative' inner city culture as in the pro gay press like Sydney Star Observer and is interested to compete with their revenue streams. We have an arguably much more mainstream (yet we trust tolerant) focus.
The "AMG" as they are commonly known do not publish news on their website at all, only newsprint titles City Hub, Sydney City News, The Bondi View, as per advertising rates on their sparse website here:
So they are in a quite different segment of the media market. Further, we do not advertise being associated with and essentially a non profit ecology action sydney, a micro ngo foundation here at http://cpppcltrust.com/ecologyactionsydney
Notice our Copy Left style of free use of any of our material and without attribution here:
Thursday, 15 February 2007
Our free copright policy
Topic: copyright - SAM
Our material is for open use and is meant to be borrowed, recycled and reused or indeed stolen. It's free, and no need for attribution either. It really is free, and that's the owner and editor speaking, Tom McLoughlin solicitor in NSW.
The trend in daily reads seems to be increasing with 300 hits on some days, and 3,700 per month up from 2,800. We continue to note our language and/or content turning up either as a direct or indirect echo or perhaps parallel evolution in some high profile columnist articles, some distinctly centre left, and on the right too.
SAM won't embarrass them by mentioning who:. Anyway we are confident enough to say it shouldn't be embarrassing - with 2 university qualifications and 15 years of public interest ngo politics behind the editor with 8 months a tea total, and bubbling synapses as a consequence..
We notice this website in the market place also
(Which is a Telstra big pond Australian website.)
(Which uses the publicly owned terms "media group")
We notice the term alternative media is a commonly used and publicly owned term as here
Rumours in the web based news media sector of AMG complaints to Melbourne IT registration of our domain name.
We hear in the market place rumours that the owner of the AMG Lawrence Gibbons has malice against us, and thus we anticipate a complaint against our 4 month old start up SAM website news service over our domain name. In fact we met with his group manager Chris Peken last Tuesday to swap materials and bring closure to the professonal relationship where even Peken was at pains to distinguish himself from the owner's bad attitude.
The owner Gibbons has threatened to denounce us as "unreliable" to the market place which we feel is a gross misdescription, and we published to explain the real situation. Last night we voluntarily took down those explanations on the internet having served their purpose of informing the market place for several weeks, and include the basis here for specific stakeholders.
We simply refer people to the legal advice (attached below) we provided to Gibbons in March 2007 showing why we were unable to do his distribution work for a particular issue of the City Hub which would have been an illegal contract, after which he sacked us as an independent contractor for future distribution work after 6 years.
There is no doubt the legal advice is damaging to the owner's professional reputation and we see an element of revenge in postures since this affair. There is no doubt the timing was unfortunate given it was the day of the Mardi Gras in Sydney the owner (and some others) were forced to do his own delivery work to prosecute a personal crusade.
In any case it is a relief because we mostly saw the distribution work as a public service obligation at very great opportunity cost professionally and politically this last 6 years.
We are quite busy and satisfied to move on with our SAM website and other community sector work but its seems there may be an attempt by AMG to sabotage our domain name. If true it only reinforces why we are very comfortable to move on from AMG in the first place.
We feel quite satisfied our blog name SAM or Sydney Alternative Media, is sufficiently distinctive of both Sydney Indy Media or SIM or IMC web based news, and Alternative Media Group or AMG, and follows conventions in the market place of publicly owned phrases already in use by diverse trading or ngo organisations.
We don't believe there is any real risk of confusion in the market place but we do believe there is a very real risk of a vexatious complaint against us to cause chaos and self aggrandise or petty vindictiveness. None of these motives are compatable with growing or expanding the community media sector that we feel so committed to, as per our reports on our blog here:
Thursday, 12 April 2007
Our Media conference #2: excellent capacity building continues
Topic: independent media
Wednesday, 11 April 2007
When will it be Our Media?: #1 report: Conference of international practitioners kicks off
Topic: independent media
Tom McLoughlin, solicitor in nsw
Attached legal advice to AMG dated 3rd March 2007 "
Posted by editor
at 2:53 PM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 15 April 2007 3:35 PM NZT