HLT Koha Committee report on discussions with PTFS

Over the last 2 weeks the Horowhenua Library Trust Koha Subcommittee (The Committee) has been communicating with John Yokley from PTFS. We believe it is past time that we inform the Koha community on where things stand at the moment.

NZ Koha Trademark

It had come to our attention that in February 2010 Metavore, INC. DBA LibLime filed an application to register the Koha trademark in New Zealand. When the Committee became aware of this action by Joshua Ferraro, on the 15th April, we wrote to John Yokley drawing to his attention to the application and inviting PTFS to withdraw it.

Inaccurate Trademark statements

The Committee were also concerned about recent changes made to the trademark and copyright statements which have appeared on the LibLime site in recent weeks:

“Koha and the Koha logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of LibLime in the United States and other countries.

This statement is wrong and we requested that the earlier version be reinstated:

“Koha and the Koha logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of LibLime and BibLibre in the United States, France and other countries”.


John Yokley approached a number of individuals to discuss Koha business but these discussions did not eventuate for 2 reasons. Firstly, a non-disclosure agreement was required to be signed and secondly the Committee believes that PTFS needed to work with the Committee as the elected representatives of the community on the issue of the Koha trademarks and website. We assured John of our discretion, reserving the right to publish a précis of discussions that touch on Koha project policy, and welcomed the opportunity to enter into discussions.

On Monday 26th April John wrote to 4 Committee members requesting an official response to Kelly Sherman’s request for collaborative help in supporting the Koha.org web site. The community response to Kelly’s request had been consistent: the community home is now koha-community.org, come join us and please redirect all traffic from koha.org to the new site. This was interpreted by John as being negative.

Our individual responses to the discussion list supported the community opinion. None of the individuals who comprise the Committee have any authority to make agreements or commitments on behalf of the community. When PTFS were ready to work with the Committee we would respond in a timely manner, after considering the issues with the best interests of the Koha global community interests at heart.

Working with HLT Koha Committee

The Committee has written twice to John Yokley issuing invitations to work with the Koha Committee to resolve outstanding issues. This invitation was accepted earlier this week, and The Committee have been invited to participate in a conference call.

The Koha community’s preferred method of working is in an open and transparent manner. However, as an acknowledgment of LibLime/PTFS sensitivity around the community asset issues the Committee believed we were authorised to work privately with PTFS to settle these issues.

We were not comfortable with a conference call and explained this to John:

“The Koha community has established ways of communicating: email and IRC. Email allows participation of all parties regardless of timezones and allows a thoughtful, considered response. IRC allows for collaboration and real time discussion. Once again though everyone has a voice and has a chance to absorb, digest, translate and contribute to the conversation – even if the thread has moved on.

There is concern that the proposed conference call will be ineffective. To begin, not everyone can attend at the proposed time. Moreover, there is scope for varying interpretations of what has been agreed. Frankly we prefer our well established processes, described above, as they have proven effective over many years.”

John has proposed 3 agenda items:

1. The Integration of acquired assets with community versions of the Koha software
2. PTFS involvement in the Koha Project Organization
3. Koha.org/Koha-Community.org Web Site

The Committee proposed the following agenda:

1. Pointing koha.org to koha-community.org,
2. Transferring the koha.org domain to HLT,
3. Withdrawal of application for the New Zealand Koha trademark,
4. Correction of the false trademark statements on LibLime website,
5. USA Koha trademarks,
6. PTFS involvement in Koha project,
7. Reintegration of LEK back into Koha.

The Koha Committee believe that items [1] through [4] could all be solved by PTFS very quickly. They are very important to the Koha Community and probably non-negotiable.

The Committee believes that items [6] and [7] are outside the scope of what the Koha Committee have been authorised to do. Our only role is to advise the Trustees, whose only role is to hold property on behalf of the community.

[6] It is entirely up to PTFS to decide whether they want to be involved in the Koha community or not. We would all like PTFS to be a part of the community.

[7] The reintegration of LEK back into the Koha project would be great – but again it is entirely a PTFS business decision. A reading of the lists confirms that the Koha Community would love to have PTFS back in the Koha project. After all, most of the LibLime clients acquired by PTFS thought they were buying into Koha as an open source community project, not LEK which is a closed proprietary one.

John Yokley is not prepared to discuss issues with the Committee via email or IRC. He reads our flagging of the non-negotiable items as The Committee indicating that we don’t really want PTFS as a corporate partner and that we are looking for an excuse to terminate our discussion and any possibility of coming to an agreement. John also believes that the committee is more interested in playing politics than working together globally to build a better open source ILS for libraries.

The Committee disagrees with that last assertion. We have been acting to fulfill our remit to secure Koha project assets as directed by the community.

The Committee Position.

The Koha Committee reasserts its belief in the core values that have sustained and will continue to sustain Koha:

  • Koha is a good that collectively belongs to its users and developers
  • Open communication on matters of interest to Koha users and developers
  • For-profit and non-for-profit organizations all have a role to play in strengthening Koha, but on the basis of open partnership
  • Koha community assets should be held in trust for the benefit of the whole community, and are not the sole property of any commercial entity

The specific remit of the Committee includes the following aim: “to advise the Trustees regarding the acquisition and safeguarding of property of the Koha project.” The Committee considers the koha.org domain to be historically and properly the property of the Koha community, and will still aim to secure the domain for the Horowhenua Library Trust for eventual transfer to a non-profit foundation or other collaborative organisation for Koha. However, the Committee also sees that the koha-community.org family of websites is a good new home for the global Koha project. While it is our preference that PTFS transfer the domain and the US trademark interest in Koha to the Trust, we do not view ourselves as being dependent on any action by PTFS.

The Committee is, and will always, stand ready to engage in communication with PTFS. However, we also firmly believe that a true partnership with any corporate citizen of the Koha community must be made on the basis of respect for the history and norms of the Koha project.

The Committee would like to call a community handover meeting on 4 May 2010 at 19:00 UTC+0 on the #koha IRC channel to discuss our report. As usual, all members of the Koha community, including management representatives from PTFS, are invited.

Tagged with: ,
15 comments on “HLT Koha Committee report on discussions with PTFS
  1. mjr says:

    @David – That’s the third time I’ve read someone describe the call as cancelled. From the comments on the mailing list up to this morning, it doesn’t look like the call was ever properly arranged (no time agreed, for example), so can’t have been cancelled!

    @Ben – the HLT Koha Committee are the appointed representatives and I don’t see why you’re more expert on what the corporate world respects than the corporation owners and ex-vice-presidents on the HLT Koha Committee. If PTFS wants to talk to the representatives in a realistic way, without NDAs or expecting intercontinental 6am phone calls, I expect the door remains open.

  2. Joann Ransom says:

    I have to accept responsibility for the bad time selected. John offered one – I offered another – he counter offerered and I foolishly said “pick 1” because I was desperately busy trying to get actual work done because we are going live in just a few weeks. The bungled timeslot was squarely my fault, not John’s, nor any other Committee members. The meeting was cancelled by the committee.

  3. @Walter I think that the one thing that hasn’t happened through all of this is a pull of attention from developing Koha. In fact I have found that these discussions have brought more people back to the table and patches are being written and pushed in amazing numbers recently!! I love seeing such collaboration in what has been a troubling time for all involved. Open Source++ Koha Community++

  4. Ben says:

    Best of luck sorting this one out, folks. Seriously, I’m really hoping for the best.

    @Joann “…the hard nose business world […] a CEO who can tell us all the way its gonna be around here now […] too much to expect that a big American Corporation could adjust…” “The meeting was cancelled by the committee.”

    If you want this to work, you might want to change the way you publicly characterize and deal with your negotiating partner.

  5. Joe Tho says:

    I too am hoping for the best, and I would like to take a moment to clarify Ben’s May 3, 2010 post:

    Joann’s comment is more properly quoted as… “The Koha Community simply doesn’t have a CEO who can tell us all the way its gonna be around here now ” and was evidently referring to the Koha community decision-making process. To imply that she meant anything otherwise seems incendiary and counterproductive.

    And perhaps all parties could re-evaluate their decisions regarding that ill-fated conference call…?

    I disagree with Joann’s assertion that forking LEK may be a good idea- the developments of that project were to be made available to the community, and lots of us are curious why that is not taking place. It would be a marvelous thing- the next Koha version could benefit from these new features and apply the talents of hundreds of developers to combine this into a single package. I simply do not see any “down-side” to that.

    If that pending release of LEK code is NOT scheduled to occur, there has been some significant miscommunication in that regard and that should probably be addressed.

    Let’s solve this!