Date: Fri, 21 Aug 1998 14:23:18 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Christopher Craig"
Subject: Facts about the LSA

I don't know if I'd call this an essay on Standardization, but it is
an essay on the LSA.

On Tuesday, August 18 a person by the name of Lucy Kendall sent an announcement to several places announcing the creation of a new Linux standards group called the Linux Standards Association. This group wishes to establish a standards group in the style of the Open Group for Linux. They will allow people or organizations to be members for free, but voting members must pay a membership fee to the LSA. The Charter members of the LSA reserve the right to veto any decisions made with less than a 66.7% vote. All submissions to the LSA become the intellectual property of the LSA. Distributions complying to the LSA's standard are to be branded "Standard Linux." All rights on any intellectual property of the LSA or the name "Standard Linux" are restricted and held by the LSA.

After this announcement there was a storm of posts to Slashdot concerning the LSA including unfounded accusations that it was a Microsoft affiliate, and more importantly the discovery that the Charter members were to be "Innovative Logic", and "NC Laboratories" which could not be changed. Innovative Logic is owned by a Michael McLagan, owner of and The web page for the organization was created using Microsoft FrontPage, and thus not in Linux. A derogatory post in response to the message was met with an email response by Michael McLagan containing various personal insults and profanity, shortly after this email response was posted to the web it was removed because of the threat of a law suit from Mr. McLagan, several mirrors still exist though.

After several threats of law suits, Mr. McLagan posted a response on Wednesday, August 19. This response was very derogatory to the readers of Slashdot in general. I'll try to highlight the main points.

The companies involved have been around Linux since "the early days".
I can neither confirm nor deny this fact.
FrontPage is just a tool, and so what if they used it
This is supposed to be a Linux standard and it does not look good for Linux to have a Linux advocacy page built with a Microsoft product. Microsoft would never run their servers on Netscape Enterprise, or Apache. Those are just web servers, but Microsoft wishes to promote Microsoft.
The Veto is only effective against votes of less than 66.7% and is a means of maintaining some form of control over the direction and productiveness of discussion.
This gives the charter members, who cannot be replaced or removed, more power than 65% of the paying members, and all of the non-paying members. There is no guarantee that the decisions of the Charter members will be better for Linux than that of 50% of the voting members.
Things like telephone, rent, etc are not free and the fee is to cover these things. Most standards organizations are fee based, and this is not a new concept to LSA.
Those things weren't free for developers either. I have a very difficult time seeing how developers managed to create an entire operating system with out a fee, but it isn't possible to create a standard. I would also like to point out that charging exorbatent amounts to software isn't new either, and in fact most software companies do just that, but that doesn't mean that Linux should.
It is important that LSA have exclusive copyright to all material so that others can't come along and copy it and claim it is related to the original
It would be sufficient to require that people who copy it not claim it is related to your project, but still allow them to copy it. This ensures that people don't claim to meet the standard by changing the requirements, but also allows people to modify the requirements and create a new standard if they choose to. This is the way Linux software has always been and I don't see why the standards shouldn't be the same way.
Other, prominent, people were consulted before the creation of this, but there was no point in consulting you little people
It is known that no major distribution was consulted, nor was Linux International. I have not heard any person that was consulted named, so it is difficult to say who these "prominent people" are. At any rate the people who I would have thought were the most important to this project were not consulted.
There is no valid trademark on Linux®, because cease and desist requests are never served
There have, according to Linux International, been several such request presented, requesting that people put a banner on their products acknowledging Linus' ownership of the trademark.

Next on Friday, August 21 Linux International issued a request that Mr. McLagan post a legend on all of his pages and products acknowledging that Linux® is a copyright held by Linus Torvalds and is used by permission, just as Mr. McLagan said they never did. Following this Mr. McLagan sent a message to Rob Kennedy who runs the web site claiming that it is an unprecedented action and warning Mr. Kennedy that he might be next. And asking if he is prepared to "surrender [his] rights to free software" as if being forced to acknowledge the rightful owner of a trademark somehow violates his rights. This trademark issue was only raised because of Mr. McLagan's statement that he would charge a fee to brand a distribution as "Standard Linux."

Following this Mr. McLagan posted a statement to Slashdot stating that Linux International "is most unhappy that the LSA stuck a shingle out inviting industry to sit down and talk standards" and bad mouthing Linux International for "chasing [the LSA] with lawyers." The request from Linux International arose, according to Linux International, from the fact that the LSA wished to charge for the use of the phrase "Standard Linux" and claim sole ownership of that phrase as a trademark.

These are the facts, and they are undisputed.