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From: lego-robotics@crynwr.com (Jonathan Knudsen)
Subject: O'Reilly book news
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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 20:32:15 GMT
Original-From: Jonathan Knudsen <jonathan@oreilly.com>
X-Real-Life-Name: Jonathan Knudsen
Lines: 20

The MIT Press bookstore will have a booth
at MindFest; they will be selling my book.

The release date for the book is October 15,
in plenty of time for Christmas.

Finally, the title will probably change, to avoid
legal trouble with you-know-who.

O'Reilly's catalog page:
  http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/lmstorms/

Amazon's page (still lists the wrong release date): 
  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1565926927/

Thanks,
Jonathan

--
Did you check the web site first?: http://www.crynwr.com/lego-robotics

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From: mattdm@mattdm.org (Matthew Miller)
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Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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Jonathan Knudsen <lego-robotics@crynwr.com> wrote:
>Finally, the title will probably change, to avoid
>legal trouble with you-know-who.

Really? Lawyers are silly. What possible problem could there be?

-- 
Matthew Miller                      --->                  mattdm@mattdm.org
Quotes 'R' Us                       --->             http://quotes-r-us.org/

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From: lego-robotics@crynwr.com (Jonathan Knudsen)
Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 21:22:46 GMT
Original-From: Jonathan Knudsen <jonathan@oreilly.com>
X-Real-Life-Name: Jonathan Knudsen
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At 08:59 PM 9/3/99 GMT, you wrote:
>Jonathan Knudsen <lego-robotics@crynwr.com> wrote:
>>Finally, the title will probably change, to avoid
>>legal trouble with you-know-who.
>
>Really? Lawyers are silly. What possible problem could there be?

The whole thing is kind of silly. LEGO felt that
we shouldn't be allowed to publish a book without
paying them a license fee. We didn't think we
needed to pay a license fee to write about their
product; after all, we don't do that for anyone
else, like Sun, or Microsoft.

Basically we need to change the title in
order to avoid marketplace confusion--it needs
to be very clear that our product is not produced
or supported by LEGO. We'll also have
a prominent disclaimer inside somewhere. We're
following our lawyers' suggestions to minimize
our legal risk.

We'll see what happens.

Jonathan

--
Did you check the web site first?: http://www.crynwr.com/lego-robotics

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From: lehman@javanet.com (Todd Lehman)
X-Real-Life-Name: Todd Lehman
Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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Jonathan Knudsen:
> Basically we need to change the title in order to avoid marketplace
> confusion--it needs to be very clear that our product is not produced
> or supported by LEGO. We'll also have a prominent disclaimer inside
> somewhere. We're following our lawyers' suggestions to minimize our
> legal risk.
> 
> We'll see what happens.

How about a "name the book" contest?

  - Learning NQC, pbFORTH, and legOS
  - Mastering Plastic Binding Brick Robots with Lots of Neat Moving Parts
  - RCX Programming in a Nutshell
  - RCX Hacking: The Definitive Guide
  - Essential Guide to LEGOŽ MINDSTORMS™ Hacking with Third-Party Software
  - Programming LEGOŽ MINDSTORMS™ Robots using Unofficial Software
  - LEGOŽ MINDSTORMS™ Annoyances

:*)

--Todd

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From: mattdm@mattdm.org (Matthew Miller)
X-Real-Life-Name: Matthew Miller
Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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Jonathan Knudsen <lego-robotics@crynwr.com> wrote:
>The whole thing is kind of silly. LEGO felt that we shouldn't be allowed to
>publish a book without paying them a license fee. We didn't think we needed
>to pay a license fee to write about their product; after all, we don't do
>that for anyone else, like Sun, or Microsoft.

The silly part is that this book is basically free advertising and free
excitement about their product. It's easily going to making them more money
_without_ a license fee.


>Basically we need to change the title in order to avoid marketplace
>confusion--it needs to be very clear that our product is not produced or
>supported by LEGO. We'll also have a prominent disclaimer inside somewhere.
>We're following our lawyers' suggestions to minimize our legal risk.

How about "Undocumented LEGO Mindstorms" or somesuch?



-- 
Matthew Miller                      --->                  mattdm@mattdm.org
Quotes 'R' Us                       --->             http://quotes-r-us.org/

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From: lego-robotics@crynwr.com (Jonathan Knudsen)
Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 13:14:10 GMT
Original-From: Jonathan Knudsen <jonathan@oreilly.com>
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At 03:20 AM 9/4/99 GMT, Matthew Miller wrote:
>[...]
>How about "Undocumented LEGO Mindstorms" or somesuch?

We considered this--Unauthorized, or Unofficial. It
conveyed the meaning pretty well, but at the
same time we felt that "Unauthorized" had a
connotation that the information might not
be particularly accurate, which it is. It's really
out of my hands, anyhow. The eventual title
is almost as much of a mystery to me as it is to you!
It doesn't much matter, I'm just thrilled the
book is finally done and will be out soon.

On a side note, I'm also thrilled that it looks
like the book won't be obseleted right away
by RIS 1.5.

Jonathan

--
Did you check the web site first?: http://www.crynwr.com/lego-robotics

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From: "Suzanne D. Rich" <suz@media.mit.edu>
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Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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In lugnet.robotics, Todd Lehman writes:
>Jonathan Knudsen:
>> Basically we need to change the title in order to avoid marketplace
>> confusion--it needs to be very clear that our product is not produced
>> or supported by LEGO. We'll also have a prominent disclaimer inside
>> somewhere. We're following our lawyers' suggestions to minimize our
>> legal risk.
>>
>> We'll see what happens.
>
>How about a "name the book" contest?
>
>  - Learning NQC, pbFORTH, and legOS
>  - Mastering Plastic Binding Brick Robots with Lots of Neat Moving Parts
>  - RCX Programming in a Nutshell
>  - RCX Hacking: The Definitive Guide
>  - Essential Guide to LEGOŽ MINDSTORMS™ Hacking with Third-Party Software
>  - Programming LEGOŽ MINDSTORMS™ Robots using Unofficial Software
>  - LEGOŽ MINDSTORMS™ Annoyances
>
>:*)
>
>--Todd

Ooo, I can't resist this.. love your last one, Todd. It would have the
Energizer 
Bunny on the cover, right?.. oh no, then there'd be trouble with another 
company.

ok, how 'bout
   - "These ARE the 'droids You're Looking For."
   - Programming the Poor-man's HAL 9000 for Dummies
   - Automate Your Life for Under $200
   - Learn to Build a Time Machine in 24 Hours
   - Beyond NEXUS 6
   - I Think, Therefore iToy: the Grownups' Guide to Making Friends
   - Toy Programming for the Rest of Us (20, 30, 40, and 50 - somethings)
   - PLAY: a 12 step program

Uhp, looks like there could be trouble again with book publishers, or Apple, or
some movie makers.. just can't win.

-Suz.

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From: "Suzanne D. Rich" <suz@baseplate.com>
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Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2000 21:06:43 GMT
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In lugnet.robotics, Jonathan Knudsen writes:
>At 08:59 PM 9/3/99 GMT, you wrote:
>>Jonathan Knudsen <lego-robotics@crynwr.com> wrote:
>>>Finally, the title will probably change, to avoid
>>>legal trouble with you-know-who.
>>
>>Really? Lawyers are silly. What possible problem could there be?
>
>The whole thing is kind of silly. LEGO felt that
>we shouldn't be allowed to publish a book without
>paying them a license fee. We didn't think we
>needed to pay a license fee to write about their
>product; after all, we don't do that for anyone
>else, like Sun, or Microsoft.
>
>Basically we need to change the title in
>order to avoid marketplace confusion--it needs
>to be very clear that our product is not produced
>or supported by LEGO. We'll also have
>a prominent disclaimer inside somewhere. We're
>following our lawyers' suggestions to minimize
>our legal risk.
>
>We'll see what happens.
>
>Jonathan


What happened (apparently) is that LEGO now has their cake and eats it too. This
makes me sick.

I just discovered their page devoted to (quote) "some 'introductory' Books about
LEGO MINDSTORMS." There I see two books, Jonathan's O'Reilly and Dave's NQC book
with obvious links to Amazon.com for online purchasing. LEGO has shamelessly
added an Amazon.com _associate_code_ to the URLs! Not only does this look
"cheap" but I see no mention of where those dollars go. ...that's 15% taken from
every direct sale. Is this "global company" _so_ in need of cash?

If TLC is seriously sponging money through the needs of the adult robotics
community (due to lacking in their own provisions and foresight), then I have
only one word for it.  Sleazy!

See for yourselves. The link is straight off the legomindstorms.com main page.
Anyone know how long it has been there?

-Suz.
Boy, it's a good thing LUGNET rules make me watch my language because right now
my ire is steaming full blast.

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From: Todd Lehman <lehman@javanet.com>
X-Real-Life-Name: Todd Lehman
Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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In lugnet.robotics, Suzanne D. Rich writes:
> [...]
> See for yourselves. The link is straight off the legomindstorms.com main
> page.

If your browser doesn't support JavaScript (Lynx, W3M, etc.) or if you're
running a browser that does, but you have it disabled, you won't be able to
load the page.  But if you still want to view the page, here's the page's
actual URL (double-checked with Lynx and with NN minus JS):

   http://www.legomindstorms.com/home/books/index.asp

But for the full "WTF?" effect, simply click there from the homepage.  LUGNET
and other in-the-AFOL-community webpages have Amazon.com associates links for
the same two books, but it's shocking to see TLC itself do this, especially
after it made the stink with O'Reilly last summer.  This has got to be the
most bizarrely unexpected thing I've seen on an official LEGO site yet!  :)

--Todd

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From: Dave Baum <dbaum@spambgoneenteract.com>
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In article <Fsnzz7.Mrp@lugnet.com>, "Suzanne D. Rich" 
<suz@baseplate.com> wrote:

> What happened (apparently) is that LEGO now has their cake and eats it 
> too. This
> makes me sick.

I assume Jonathan (and ORA) went through the same discussions my 
publisher did with TLG regarding using "Mindstorms" in a book title.  
Lego had no problem at all with people writing books...in fact I've 
gotten a lot of encouraging feedback from people within TLG that 
wholeheartedly endorse these efforts.

However, they are wary of people using (and possibly abusing) the Lego 
brand.  This is understandable...the brand has a lot of value and they 
wouldn't want poor-quality products by third parties to in any way 
compromise that brand.  Furthermore, since the brand has such high 
value, it is perfectly reasonable for them to expect payment for use of 
their brand (i.e. licensing fees).

My impression was TLG was very happy with the fact that there were books 
dealing with Lego sets and that obviously it should be clear from the 
book's title *which* lego set it being discussed.  Per their 
recommendation, my book carries a label stating that it applies to the 
Robotics Invention System 1.0 and 1.5 (so as to eliminate confusion 
about the other Mindstorms sets).

At this point, both books are out, and TLG feels that the books may add 
to the "Mindstorms" experience, thus they point to the books from their 
web site.  As an author, I find this helpful...it means more people may 
read my book and enjoy it.

I guess what I'm saying is that I find it perfectly reasonable that they 
are willing to point interested users to the books, but at the same time 
don't want their name on them.

> 
> I just discovered their page devoted to (quote) "some 'introductory' 
> Books about
> LEGO MINDSTORMS." There I see two books, Jonathan's O'Reilly and Dave's 
> NQC book
> with obvious links to Amazon.com for online purchasing. LEGO has 
> shamelessly
> added an Amazon.com _associate_code_ to the URLs! Not only does this look
> "cheap" but I see no mention of where those dollars go. ...that's 15% 
> taken from
> every direct sale. Is this "global company" _so_ in need of cash?
> 
> If TLC is seriously sponging money through the needs of the adult 
> robotics
> community (due to lacking in their own provisions and foresight), then I 
> have
> only one word for it.  Sleazy!
> 

Personally, I'd much rather have them link from their site to the 
publishers' sites for the books - in general these provide much better 
information about the books and allow potential readers to make a more 
informed decision.  

However, linking to amazon.com and getting the associated revenue is 
pretty common practice.  I don't believe it takes any money from 
buyers...the money comes from amazon.com's margins.

I didn't realize it was 15%...at that rate, TLG makes more off each sale 
than I do!  Perhaps I need to speak with them about a referral fee for 
anyone who bought a Mindstorms set because of NQC :)

Dave Baum

-- 
reply to: dbaum at enteract dot com

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From: "David Schilling" <davidNO@SPAMsunteleia.com>
X-Real-Life-Name: David Schilling
Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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In lugnet.robotics, Todd Lehman writes:
>In lugnet.robotics, Suzanne D. Rich writes:
>> [...]
>> See for yourselves. The link is straight off the legomindstorms.com main
>> page.
>
>..., here's the page's
>actual URL (double-checked with Lynx and with NN minus JS):
>
>   http://www.legomindstorms.com/home/books/index.asp
>
>But for the full "WTF?" effect, simply click there from the homepage.  LUGNET
>and other in-the-AFOL-community webpages have Amazon.com associates links for
>the same two books, but it's shocking to see TLC itself do this, especially
>after it made the stink with O'Reilly last summer.  This has got to be the
>most bizarrely unexpected thing I've seen on an official LEGO site yet!  :)
>
>--Todd

I don't really understand how the associates stuff works: if no one collects
the referal fee, doesn't Amazon just keep it as extra profit for themselves?
Certainly the authors don't collect a smaller royalty if a referal fee is
given?  So I guess I don't see the big deal about that.  I'd appreciate it if
someone could explain why this is a Bad Thing.

What I thought was REALLY funny though was the Legal Notice at the bottom of
the page.  Especially the line: "Your linking to any other off-site pages or
other sites is at your own risk."  It makes it sound like the only place on
the web that you are safe is on LEGO's own web pages!  Could you imagine if
everyone started putting legal disclaimers on every link off their site?
(Hey, Todd, maybe you should add a legal disclaimer to the various links from
LUGNET to certain 'other' websites! :-)

Finally, what does "WTF?" mean?  What's a "WTF" effect?

--
  David Schilling

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From: Todd Lehman <lehman@javanet.com>
X-Real-Life-Name: Todd Lehman
Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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In lugnet.robotics, David Schilling writes:
> I don't really understand how the associates stuff works: if no one collects
> the referal fee, doesn't Amazon just keep it as extra profit for themselves?
> Certainly the authors don't collect a smaller royalty if a referal fee is
> given?  So I guess I don't see the big deal about that.  I'd appreciate it
> if someone could explain why this is a Bad Thing.

I just think it's incredibly ironic, if not a bizarre turn of events.

It's surprising to see TLC jumping on the opportunity to take advantage of
books written by people in the AFOL community that support it.  Maybe they'll
give a portion of the fees back to the authors, that would be nice.

What's particularly ironic about it, IMHO, is that the books fill holes left
open by TLC.  Now they come in and profit from the holes they forgot to fill
themselves.  :)  See the irony?  I'm not sure whether to chuckle in admiration
from a capitalist market standpoint or whether to have a sore stomach from
what it might mean about how TLC views AFOLs.


> [...]
> Finally, what does "WTF?" mean?  What's a "WTF" effect?

It's an old USENET/netnews word to avoid profanity...imagine incredible
surprise or confusion, and that's what it is.

--Todd

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From: mattdm@mattdm.org (Matthew Miller)
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Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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Dave Baum <dbaum@spambgoneenteract.com> wrote:
>However, they are wary of people using (and possibly abusing) the Lego
>brand.  This is understandable...the brand has a lot of value and they
>wouldn't want poor-quality products by third parties to in any way
>compromise that brand.  Furthermore, since the brand has such high value,
>it is perfectly reasonable for them to expect payment for use of their
>brand (i.e. licensing fees).


However, it seems extremely unreasonable in the case of books about a
product. In fact, although I'm not a lawyer, this use of trademarks seems
100% within the precedent set for fair use: it's impossible to describe
_without_ using the trademark. 


The classic example is: if writing about the Boston Marathon (a trademark of
the Boston Athletic Association), you don't have to call it "that 42.2k race
they have in Boston every year" -- you can actually call it "the Boston
Marathon". The same applies to a book specifically about Lego Mindstorms --
you don't have to call it a book about "the robotic construction set from
the famous maker of interlocking plastic building blocks".

I can understand why O'Reilly wouldn't want to go to court over this, but
I'm pretty sure that if it came to that, TLC wouldn't have much to stand on.



-- 
Matthew Miller                      --->                  mattdm@mattdm.org
Quotes 'R' Us                       --->             http://quotes-r-us.org/

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From: "Suzanne D. Rich" <suz@baseplate.com>
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Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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In lugnet.robotics, David Schilling writes:
[...]
>I don't really understand how the associates stuff works: if no one collects
>the referal fee, doesn't Amazon just keep it as extra profit for themselves?

From what I understand, Amazon makes no profit when a book is 30% off list and
then grants a 15% referral fee.[1]  The 15% is a maximum. A visitor to their
site would need to buy directly through that link and the book must be on
discount of 15-30%(?)I don't remember the numbers. often it's 5% or zero
referal.


>Certainly the authors don't collect a smaller royalty if a referral fee is
>given?

No, I don't think it affects the publisher or author.[2] I guess if LEGO is
helping sell more copies of Dave's and Jonathan's books then that makes me
happy. It is a Good Thing. And it's good for all the users that are helped. It
wasn't seeing their books on the site that disturbed me.

>So I guess I don't see the big deal about that.  I'd appreciate it if
>someone could explain why this is a Bad Thing.

I did not say that LEGO was doing a Bad Thing. But I think in this case they are
acting in an unprofessional manner. For such a large company, who is attempting
to appear as strong and worldly, to scrape nickles off books written by others
about their product (ironically in the gaps left by them) looks (to me) sad and
cheap.

Basically: TLC would have looked more respectful (to me) if they, being
originator of the product, were to have linked to the authors' sites or their
publishers' sites. Instead, the way TLC mentions the books seems cold and less
helpful than it could be.

I could see collecting profit from Amazon.com as reasonable if TLC were putting
the funds toward something kind and related. like, I don't know.. donating more
copies of the books to high schools or libraries or something.. but I can find
no evidence of that being the case.

I feel that TLC owes those two authors and their publishers a great thanks, and
I just don't see it coming from TLC. I am personally disapointed.

But I'm sorry that my post here seemed so curious to readers. :-/

LEGO's current "outsider book-on-official site" relationship is understandable
from a certain view out LEGO's windows now, But I wish they had been on the
sidewalk with everyone last fall. I believe there were things they could have
done from the get-go. But that being history, I should be quiet, calm down, and
let what happens happen.

-Suz
[1]
Last I heard, Amazon.com had yet to make a profit as a whole company. Amazon
benefits from associates by exposure and specialty sub-sites.

[2]
I don't know about exact effects, like those on distributors... I forget who
even owns INGRAM now... certainly it hurts retail stores, local bookshops and
the like. The print publishing industry as a whole is changing due to the
internet's growing use -- I don't know how that will affect royalties in future.
Usually publishing is so slow to change -- now they have to be quick on their
toes. but that's another matter.

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From: Dave Baum <dbaum@spambgoneenteract.com>
X-Real-Life-Name: Dave Baum
Subject: Re: O'Reilly book news
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In article <Fso7Gt.ILF@lugnet.com>, Todd Lehman <lehman@javanet.com> 
wrote:

> I just think it's incredibly ironic, if not a bizarre turn of events.
> 
> It's surprising to see TLC jumping on the opportunity to take advantage of
> books written by people in the AFOL community that support it.  Maybe they'll
> give a portion of the fees back to the authors, that would be nice.
> 
> What's particularly ironic about it, IMHO, is that the books fill holes left
> open by TLC.  Now they come in and profit from the holes they forgot to fill
> themselves.  :)  See the irony?  I'm not sure whether to chuckle in admiration
> from a capitalist market standpoint or whether to have a sore stomach from
> what it might mean about how TLC views AFOLs.
> 

I hope people don't get too worked up about all of this.  I assume TLC 
decided to put links on their site, then someone had the idea that if 
they used an associate link, they'd get a little extra income.  From 
their perspective, why not take advantage of a little free money?

TLC left some holes with Mindstorms, and for the last 18 months I've 
been filling a couple of them (NQC and a book).  When the Mindstorms 
site started accepting NQC programs, people generally looked at this as 
a positive step from TLC.  I think their acknowledgments of the books - 
including a link on their web site - is also a positive step.

Is it just the fact that they are profitting from AFOL contributions 
that is upsetting?  To be honest, I suspect NQC's existence created more 
net profit for TLC than the amazon.com link for my book will.  I'm 
perfectly happy to let them derrive some profit from my efforts.  After 
all, NQC and the book have brought me plenty of rewards, and neither of 
those efforts would've been possible without Mindstorms.  Personally, 
I'm very content in this sort of half-acknowledged symbiotic 
relationship with TLC.  I can't speak for Jonathan, but I hope nobody 
gets the impression that I (as an AFOL) am getting a bad deal here.

Is there a concern that the lego links will reduce the hits through 
similar links on other AFOL sites?  Although I can see where this would 
be disconcerting, its hardly a reason to get upset with Lego.  Its just 
free market operating with respect to referrals.  If other sites 
(LUGNET, etc) were depending on such money, then we will need to find 
other ways to support them.

Dave Baum

-- 
reply to: dbaum at enteract dot com

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From: Dave Baum <dbaum@spambgoneenteract.com>
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In article <slrn8esvg9.qk9.mattdm@jadzia.bu.edu>, mattdm@mattdm.org 
wrote:

> Dave Baum <dbaum@spambgoneenteract.com> wrote:
> >However, they are wary of people using (and possibly abusing) the Lego
> >brand.  This is understandable...the brand has a lot of value and they
> >wouldn't want poor-quality products by third parties to in any way
> >compromise that brand.  Furthermore, since the brand has such high 
> >value,
> >it is perfectly reasonable for them to expect payment for use of their
> >brand (i.e. licensing fees).
> 
> 
> However, it seems extremely unreasonable in the case of books about a
> product. In fact, although I'm not a lawyer, this use of trademarks seems
> 100% within the precedent set for fair use: it's impossible to describe
> _without_ using the trademark. 
> 

There's tons of precedent on using trademarked names in titles of books.  
I don't believe my publisher was ever seriously concerned about losing a 
court case.  But they didn't want to bother going to court, and there's 
a lot of value in a good faith effort such as respecting their wishes 
and putting an "unofficial" stamp on the book.

Bear in mind that TLC is sort of an "old" company that's just coming 
into the "new" market.  They're used to customers and competitors.  Not 
collaborators and side industries.

I'm not saying they shouldn't change...they should.  However, big 
companies don't turn on a dime, so I have to keep tempering my 
expectations.

We have seen a lot of progress (at least in Mindstorms)....consider the 
fact that they released pre-alpha firmware for RCX 2.0 along with 
complete documentation of the bytecodes.  That must've been a hard sell 
to management.

Dave

-- 
reply to: dbaum at enteract dot com

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