Copying troubles for Linux festival – Letter to NZ Herald from our CEO demands retraction.

Over recent days our business has been inundated with unwanted feedback on a NZ Herald article that at best, was less than flattering and at worst vulgar and personally threatening to our innocent team. Sadly it reflects an inability to communicate the facts clearly and deadline pressures for your freelance journalists to submit an article.Your article is factually incorrect with respect to the reason we declined to replicate Mr McKee’s CDs. We wrote to him to ’withdraw our quotation and offer’ citing that ’Software Images is unwilling to be dragged into any public debate with your organisation or others’. Also, it was ’a commercial decision of Software Images, so that our team can retain focus on our business activities not public debates.’

Personally I am unwilling to make a decision on behalf of a client under journalistic pressure. The feedback that has since been directed to our staff and our business has been mostly disgusting and a sad reflection of the improper power of the press and the internet. Sadly, rather than altering the decision, it has in fact reinforced it. A popular IT industry website today notes ’… this is pretty much only going to help our cause. We couldn’t ask for better advertising (both the NZ Herald, and Slashdot).’ So it seems that the NZ Herald is prepared to damage the good reputation of our business to advertise the interests of others; rather than accurately report.

Therefore; I suggest the NZ Herald should print a correction and this letter. Furthermore there are basically two commercial issues that any reputable CD replicator faces;

Respect for Intellectual Property (IP): Software Images places a high value on our clients IP (music or software), we have indeed turned down work in the past where ownership/copyright/IP, whatever term you want to use, is to our knowledge in question. This probably differs from many replicators who may just rest on their disclaimer, or just turn a blind eye. Software Images will always try to protect and respect others IP as we hope people will respect ours. In this case we were still gathering information about the SCO v IBM litigation, when pressured for a story by the reporter concerned. However, the fact that we were aware of it, our company we will err heavily on the side of caution until we are presented with sufficient data to make a decision.

Existing relationships: Software Images is a Microsoft Certified Partner, and has earned a quality relationship with Microsoft NZ. The relationship goes past the point of customer/supplier of CDs and packaging. We have developed and implemented systems that serve our clients at a strategic level. This involves the exchange of creativity, ideas, and of course Intellectual Property. We believe there can be a conflict of interest for us to supply the same kind of high level services to Eaden. We have a non-compete clause in our service level Agreement with Microsoft which we respect. It had no bearing on our decision.

At all times or decisions were commercial ones, placing a high value on IP and protecting existing relationships. It is unfortunate this has been perceived as Software Images attacking Linux, which is simply untrue. It is also both surprising and hurtful the kind emails that have been received by members of staff. Software Images employs a wide range of ages and cultures, and some of the correspondence we have received has caused unnecessary hurt and offence to good people. This does the Linux community no favours.

I feel that this is a gross breach of journalistic integrity. I would like to discuss this further with a responsible senior editorial staff. I’d like to direct you to some of the emails and damaging website postings that you article generated against our business and more importantly, our crew.

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