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The 'end' of Rob Galbraith forums

Dear Lightstalkers,
The famous Rob Galbraith forums have been bought last week by a couple of wedding photographers(!) who have decided to change the financial model and in doing so, removing from free access all the archives, contributed by thousands of photographers (including myself) for the benefit of all to see. This is outrageous to say the least.

Here is a cut and paste copy of my post to this new management:

“Hello to all,
I am shocked by Drew and Melissa ‘brutal’ and ‘dictatorial’ changes in the policies of this much respected forums.

I want to thank Rob and Mike very warmly for their passion and dedication in making these forums so open and useful to thousands of photographers, professional, amateurs or otherwise beginners during all these years.

While I understand and respect the need for a different financial model, I can’t understand or as a matter of fact begin to tolerate the arrogance and pretention with which this new management is appropriating to itself, not the forums and the work they will have to accomplish to make them better, which is fine and legitimate, but the actual PAST CONTENT of the RG forums and REMOVING that past content from the reach of the very people who created it. This content was created in all openess by thousands of dedicated people who wanted to help and share with the entire community, for free. This historical content doesn’t belong to the ‘owners’ (present or future) of this forum, it belongs to the community in its entirety. Rob and Mike always put the community first, now Drew and Melissa want to act otherwise, this is fine with me, but please don’t ‘steal’ the archive of this community. I believe you have no legal right to do so. In posting in a ‘free’ forum, we have contributed to openly help and devellopp the photography techniques of this time, I resent and refuse absolutely that under the pretense of a new financial model, this new management confiscate this wealth of knowledge and effort for their sole commercial profit.

I refuse categorically to have any of my past posts part of this commercial venture (not only my name, but the actual content as well) , and I strongly believe my position is shared by many members of this community.
I repeat, I refuse that this new management makes a single word of my past posts (except this post…you have my blessing!) part of their ‘pay per view’ vision of the photographic community.

I have nothing personally against Drew and Melissa, I wish them good luck in their venture, however I urge them not to cut the branch on which they are seating by adopting this new ‘model’. I have nothing against paying a nominal fee to post in such a rich series of forums, but the posts themselves (past, present and future) SHOULD be free for everyone to access. Also I believe $25 per year is a hefty fee when multiplicated by the several thousands of members, and it should be clear that it won’t grow every year in the future, unlike what some of Drew’s posts seem to imply.

I feel sad and sorry for the probable loss of what was an invaluable source of knowledge and experience, as well as the inevitable dispersion of so many generous and talented contributors.

Bruno Stevens,
Brussels, Belgium

by [a former member] at 2006-04-23 06:11:51 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) home in Brussels , Belgium | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Bruno, when you signed up for the forums, do you remember whether you (and others) agreed to any specific terms that might be viewed as a license to someone to use the content? If you did not, you may be in the position legally to block any subsequent uses of your postings (and , yes, mosts postings to discussion forums – including Lightstalkers — do indeed have sufficient creative content to be copyrightable). Remember the general US legal rule for ownership of the copyright in creative works: unless the creator specifically agrees otherwise in writing (or they are working as an employee), the copyright in the work automatically belongs to him/her. He who owns the copyright has the right to both license and withdraw the license of it.

by [former member] | 23 Apr 2006 06:04 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
I don’t remember exactly about the sign-up rules, I signed up in the very beginning (2000/2001), but I feel that restricting the access of the past posts to present or future paying members, is an unacceptable ‘kidnapping’ of my (and all the other’s of course) efforts to help the community as a whole. I refuse to give the right to these people to SELL to their profit, what was written as a free contribution to an open forum.

by [former member] | 23 Apr 2006 07:04 | home in Brussels, Belgium | | Report spam→
Un…bloody….believable!!…..Real shame and sign of the times – We are even getting f***** over and squeezed on website forums now……..

by Steve Coleman | 23 Apr 2006 08:04 | Drinking with Marcus & Seamus, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Sounds like copyright infringement, unless there was a signed agreement, their greedy exploitation might actually backfire.

by Andreas Kornfeld | 23 Apr 2006 09:04 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
Guess what?
The ‘new RG forums management’ removed my post and the following thread…

by [former member] | 23 Apr 2006 09:04 | home in Brussels, Belgium | | Report spam→
Keep posting it back!…though guess not cos you would have to PAY !!!!….I’ll send them a virus….!

by Steve Coleman | 23 Apr 2006 09:04 | Drinking with Marcus & Seamus, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

It seems that they’ve moved your thread to here:


I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to why…

by David Azia | 23 Apr 2006 10:04 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Actually I reposted it myself…on the ‘main’ thread…so they couldn’t remove the whole thread…but yes, it stinks.

by [former member] | 23 Apr 2006 11:04 | home in Brussels, Belgium | | Report spam→

On a couple of other forums a handfull of former ‘high profile’ technical posters,who had been banned at one time or another for breaching forum protocol, have also reacted negatively
to the new policy and have stated that they will fight to have,either their former posting made available for free or to have their content deleted from the database.
I don’t know enough to be able to speculate if the new policy is a copyright violation but,in any case,it is a moral breach and if this story gains a little more momentum then the new
owners will be forced to shift into damage control in a big way. It may already too late to turn their new venture into a success as the majority of opinon seems to be opposed to their tact.
I don’t,personally,see $25 as a significant amount to be able to contribute towards maintaining a dedicated community such as the former RG forums or Lightstalkers for that matter but to restrict
access is another story.

by [former member] | 23 Apr 2006 12:04 | Montreal, Canada | | Report spam→
I didn’t question the new owner’s decision to impose a $25-$35 access fee to the ‘new’ forums, that is their priviledge; but I cannot accept the ‘kidnapping’ of the past content of these forums…these people are changing the rules retroactively, either the past content remains free for everyone to see or it is deleted in its entirety (which would be a pity). Anything else is a breech of copyright.

by [former member] | 23 Apr 2006 12:04 | home in Brussels, Belgium | | Report spam→
I am with Bruno on this one. As for LIghtstalkers, I can tell you, there will never be a $25 dollar fee here and there will never be any sale or other financial shenanigans that will deprive you all of your content. This is free, open, anarchic and non-profit.

by Jon Anderson | 23 Apr 2006 13:04 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
Personally I wouldnt mind finatially supporting Lightstalkers, $25.000 or $35.00 is really nothing considering all the factors but thats not really the problem there I think. The copyright issue is the big thing that needs to be delt with. You would think a couple of photographers would have a better understanding of the situation.

As for lightstalkers I hope that it always remains open and anarchic. Im less concerned that it remain non-profit as even though I count myself an Anarchist I realize the world I live in is not. Shinji and all who contribute to making this forum available should not be left out of pocket for doing so.

by [former member] | 23 Apr 2006 14:04 (ed. Apr 23 2006) | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
There is no question of being left out of pocket, and there are various plans afoot to cover expenses. No worries.

by Jon Anderson | 23 Apr 2006 14:04 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
I stopped participating in the RG forums a long time ago. I just couldn’t stand to sift through all of the BS being argued about. A bunch of armchair scientists talking about how the 5d chip is .00000001% sharper than the other Canon thing and how they took 300 images of paper clips to prove it and you can see all 300 paper clip images on pbase…

It was so refreshing to find lightstalkers, which pretty much ended any involvement I had with RG forums.

It just got a bit tedious. I hope they all don’t come flooding over here to endlessly debate which Nikon 85mm is sharper down to the imperceptible algorithms reaching out into space and time…

Bruno, I do agree that restricting the past content is whacked.

by [former member] | 23 Apr 2006 16:04 (ed. Apr 23 2006) | Cuenca!, Ecuador | | Report spam→
I am not an IP lawyer by any stretch, but I don’t believe that posting in a public forum constitutes releasing your words into the public domain.

This column by Brad Templeton refers to Usenet postings, but maybe there is a parallel?

by Wayne E. Yang | 24 Apr 2006 13:04 (ed. Apr 24 2006) | | Report spam→
As of 30 minutes ago, the new owners of the RG forums posted this:

“Part of the migration plan includes a free read-only archive of past posts that will cover up to the transition announcement. We’ve come up with a solution for this that will enable public viewing of the historical content here without hurting the financial viability of the forums going forward. Thank you all for your input.”

It seems a small group of hardcore ‘emmerdeurs’ (me included) have won a copyright battle…

by [former member] | 24 Apr 2006 13:04 | home in Brussels, Belgium | | Report spam→

by [former member] | 24 Apr 2006 13:04 | montreal, Canada | | Report spam→
Jaw hits the floor…So remarkable as to elicit disbelief…

by Venus Flytrap | 24 Apr 2006 14:04 | Calgary, Canada | | Report spam→
Wayne, good find.

Templeton is correct. I AM an IP lawyer, deal with this stuff every day, and he is right. The only real question is whether you somehow granted an irrevocable license before (unlikely but possible).

On the other hand, when people buy a business operation they usually have lawyers look at the legality of the assets they are buying, to make sure they are in fact “owned” by the seller and the seller can transfer them properly to the new user. There is a some chance that this was done here. If so, you will surely have to fight it out using real lawyers.

If you aren’t ready to genuinely enforce your rights, then you are powerless. If the principle is important enough to you, then stand up for it. Don’t just say it’s another instance in which photographers get screwed.

On the other hand, you honestly have to ask yourself whether it is worth the stomach acid and whether the time could be better spent marketing yourself.

by [former member] | 24 Apr 2006 14:04 (ed. Apr 24 2006) | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Vive les emmerdeurs!

by David Azia | 24 Apr 2006 14:04 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
jon, could that make Lightstalkers the first ever use of beer-fueled webservers ?

by [former member] | 24 Apr 2006 14:04 | lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
Beer happens to be a very underrated fuel!!! Perhaps we will have some nice belgian fuel at the Perpignan party.

by Jon Anderson | 24 Apr 2006 15:04 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
Bruno, you did it! Great. I’m happy that all the good stuff will stay there in the archive and will be readable for everyone. Good job.


by Heinrich Voelkel | 24 Apr 2006 16:04 | Barcelona, Spain | | Report spam→
Thanks guys, but I wasn’t alone in this ‘fight’…far from that…let’s say I used some old poker tactic to good effects…;-)

by [former member] | 24 Apr 2006 16:04 | home in Brussels, Belgium | | Report spam→
Bravo Bruno! Les emmerdeurs toujour gagnent!

by [former member] | 24 Apr 2006 16:04 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Bruno, you did it! Great. I’m happy that all the good stuff will stay there in the archive and will be readable for everyone. Good job.


by Heinrich Voelkel | 24 Apr 2006 16:04 | Barcelona, Spain | | Report spam→

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Steve Coleman, BookDesigner|Photographer Steve Coleman
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Andreas Kornfeld, Photographer Andreas Kornfeld
[undisclosed location].
David Azia, Pic. editor/Photographer David Azia
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Jon Anderson, Photographer & Writer Jon Anderson
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Wayne E. Yang, Writer/Photographer Wayne E. Yang
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Venus Flytrap, Venus Flytrap
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Heinrich Voelkel, Heinrich Voelkel
Berlin , Germany ( TXL )


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