First of all, thanks to everybody who has offered opinions here (preferred) or on hugin-ptx. Keep them coming. They are all useful.
Let’s put the legal thing aside…
I did not expect much legal advice, but it showed up and took center stage. I know the applicable laws and the usual disclaimers apply. If I wanted to escalate legally, I would have talked to a lawyer. What I needed from you was some sound common sense. Thank you all for sharing your sound common sense with me.
Some interesting comments on the legal situation have been made. I will comment on them in another post. I think we can all agree that the “legal option” is just not worth the hassle. I know I am within my rights here, and I could stay where I am.
… and think of the right thing to do.
As Seb commented, the existence of panospace.com has been pointed out two days after I launched this blog. Back then, I did not feel it was a problem. I still don’t think it is one. Plenty of (competing?) panorama photographers co-exist on a quite narrow namespace, and this blog is not even competing with panospace.com. No pictures are sold on this blog. Anyway, just check how crowded the word panoramas is:
And they are all legal and acceptable uses (with the exception of one, guess which?). If each and every one of them would claim exclusive worldwide rights to the word “panoramas”, where would this lead?
The confusion is one of etymology. Antoine claims he invented the word panospace. I claim it is a generic combination of two common words, the prefix pano, from the Greek “pan-” which stands for “all” and is found in many current words such as panacea, panoply, panorama); and the common noun space.
We also make different usage of it: I use it to describe the broad topics covered by this blog. It’s a big space full of all things, hence an “all-space”, or panospace. He uses the term in an attempt to make his pictures seem unique. Without denying their uniqueness or beauty, there is nothing of an invention there. Thousands of photographers use the same or related techniques to produce equally unique and beautiful artwork. That artwork is called panoramas and it is showcased on plenty of books and websites.
It is sad that some photographers see themselves in competition with the rest of the world and feel the need to establish exclusivity the negative way, rather than relying on the positive attraction of their creations. They fail to realize that by collaborating they stand to gain much more. What competition is a panorama photographer in Berlin to a panorama photographer in New York?
Thanks to everybody who put forward practical solutions. Summarizing they are variations on the following themes.
Giving it up
The clearest message to give it up came on hugin-ptx from Edward Harp, photographer in California. You will excuse me, Ed, if I am picking a little bit on your post – it just lend itself so well. Ed says: “I would give up the name regardless of legal matters simply because he used it first.”
Incidentally there is another Edward Harp, photographer, in Iowa. I don’t know who of the two used the name Ed Harp first, but if he was older than you (and thus used it first), would you give up your name, Ed?
If somebody think I should give up panospace.wordpress.com, I encourage them to express their view here. All views expressed in compliance with this blog’s comments policy are published. So far only one comment to this topic has not been published because filed from an anonymous spambox. Another one has been moderated for offensive language.
It has been suggested that I could change this blog’s URL, leave the old posts in place until Google indexes the new blog and then delete them. Technically, I’m not concerned at all about Google finding/indexing/ranking relevant content very quickly.
Unless directed to do so by WordPress.com or by a valid court order, I am not inclined to move domain. Moving to a new “domain neighborhood” will likely bring the same issues with other neighbors. Owners of registered domain names are like owners in a condominium: they have to put up with their neighbors unless the neighbor infringes on the laws and bylaws. And at issue is the name, not the URL.
It has also been suggested that I change the name / tag line. I am not particularly attached to “This week in panospace”. It could also be “This week in panorama space”, or “This week in pano space”. Will it make a difference? Will it appease what seems to be an absolute and greedy claim for exclusive ownership?
A number of comments noted that the claims are groundless and could be ignored. I don’t think it is nice to ignore a neighbor knocking at the door – even if it is not the most graceful knocking (language issues might be at work) and the first thing he puts forward is a threatening copyright claim. Hence I decided to hold this discussion openly, and I am waiting for him to comment.
I think this is the best solution suggested. What kind of co-existence, though? a footnote? cross-linking? or even, like suggested by Tom, an actual embrace and promotion of panospace.com’s business?
Well, it depends on the overlap, and on the kind of relationship. In my opinion, the overlap between panospace.com and panospace.wordpress.com is tiny. We don’t share much in common. And starting a relationship with a copyright threat is not a good start.
So far I have neglected my blogroll. I don’t really feel like starting a collection of links. There are better and more comprehensive resources that link to all panorama things, and a link may be interpreted as endorsement. I know dozens if not hundreds of professional panorama photographers that sell their pictures and services. And I have ongoing relationships with them, and even personal friendships in some cases. It would be unfair if I’d link to an assertive neighbor and not to panorama photographers I have an ongoing relationship with.
And in terms of internet, if somebody drops a name, users have the reflex to look first at the dot-com, not at other top level domains or at sub domains like the one for this blog – so if traffic is going the wrong way, it is people who are looking for this blog who ends up on the dot-com, rather than the other way around.
So what’s next? My intention is to try co-existence. I think the majority of those who have expressed opinions here and on hugin-ptx will agree. I don’t think that this blog infringes on any legal or moral rights of Antoine. I’ll continue blogging business as usual.
To make sure he has a fair chance to make his representations, I’ve updated my full contact details in the about section. I’ll let you know if I hear from him or from his lawyer. I would appreciate to read his opinion and answers here, but it is of course his choice when, where, how, and if he wants to talk.
Thank you all for your show of support, and keep the opinons coming!
Filed under: intellectual property