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NetSaint Maintainer Describes Legal Woes, Says Development Will Halt

Jun 12, 2001, 14:19 (18 Talkback[s])
From: "Ethan Galstad" 
Subject: [netsaint-announce] The Future of NetSaint
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2001 19:46:39 -0500

First off, I apologize if you are receiving this message twice.  I 
thought it best to send to both the -announce and -users lists to 
reach the most number of people.  Anyway, on with things...

Most of you are probably aware of the recent legal mess I'm found 
myself in over the use of the name "NetSaint".  To sum things up, 
things look like they're coming to an end.  The attorneys for 
WWDSI / Richard Carson & Associates are withdrawing their 
demands that I stop using the name "NetSaint" as long as I place 
disclaimers on the website (and other promotional / marketing 
material) saying its not associated with their marks.  While this 
resolution leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, it at least allows me to 
continue using the name for the time being.  

Unfortunately, this does not provide much protection in the long 
run.  They were unable to assure me that they would not seek legal 
action if WWDSI / Richard Carson & Associates decided to 
expand upon their product line in the future.  Same goes if I altered 
NetSaint to provide different services than it already does.  This has 
left me quite bothered.  It essentially puts me in the seat of 
someone who is working with a bomb strapped to their chest.  
There's no telling when it'll go off, and I'm not too thrilled about 
working on NetSaint under those conditions.

Taking this to court in hopes of resolution via a mediator or judge 
was just too costly an option.  Typical cases like this can cost 
anywhere from $25K - $100K, and that's if you win.  Unless I win 
the lottery tomorrow, they're no way I'm going to spring for that tidy 
chunk of beer money.

Anyway, I've spent a lot of time thinking about what to do from here 
on out, and here's the deal... 

0.0.7 will be the last version of NetSaint that I release.  I will work 
to put out one or two more beta versions in order to make sure its 
relatively stable before a final version, but I'm not going to wait too 
long to do so.  After 0.0.7 is stable, I will not be releasing any new 
versions of NetSaint.  Period.

Right now I'm in a major programming slump.  I don't know if its 
due to the start of the summer, this legal mess, a normal burnout 
cycle that I occassionally go through, or a combination of all of 
them.  I honestly don't see myself working on any code for most or 
all of the summer.  I'm guessing that I will pick up work on this 
project again in late summer / early fall, but I honestly can't say 
that I'll do that for sure.

If and when I decide to start coding on this project again, it will be 
under a new name.  I've had a few ideas for names, but nothing has 
been decided for sure yet.  Once a new name is picked, I won't be 
releasing anything (documentation, code, whatever) until I've 
started the process of registering a trademark for that name.  I'm 
not willing to start a project under a new name only to find myself 
in the same situation a year or two from now.

I have no idea how long I'll be able to maintain ownership of the 
netsaint.org domain or how long I'll be able to use the name 
"NetSaint".  The future doesn't seem to hold many promises right 
now.  I would strongly advise you to grab beta versions as they're 
released (as well as addons, etc.)  Even if you don't want to run 
them right now, it would be wise to have them in the event nothing 
is available for a few months.  Just a friendly heads-up...

Also remember that since the name "NetSaint" is rather volatile, 
six months or a year from now it may not refer to the same 
software you're using for monitoring now.  If something unfortunate 
happens and "NetSaint" is no longer what it is now, look for a 
"new" GPL'ed monitoring package at Freshmeat 
(http://www.freshmeat.net).  If I release this code under a new 
name, I'm not even going to be referencing the name "NetSaint" 
anywhere, so you're going to have to look at the feature set and the 
screenshots (which will look pretty much the same, save perhaps 
some color scheme changes).

That's pretty much it for now.  Please understand, that I will not 
pursue further legal steps to secure my ownership of the name 
"NetSaint" (unless of course I win the Powerball sometime soon).  
Also, if you send me email directly, don't expect a fast response 
(or mabye even one at all).  My receive to send ratio for email is 
around 20:1 lately.

PS:  Thanks to all of you who contributed to the defense fund.  I 
received just over $1200, which will cover most of the costs I end 
up incurring.  I still have a few weeks before I get my last invoice, 
but they way things are looking, total dollars spent on this mess 
will be around $1600.  At any rate, the contributions helped offset 
the costs and I greatly appreciate it.  Thanks again.

Ethan Galstad
NetSaint Developer
Email:   netsaint@netsaint.org
Website: http://www.netsaint.org