Generation's Keyboards Confiscated



Ask any editor at Generation magazine what it's like putting together a weekly magazine and they'll likely tell you it's a long, strenuous effort, a process one described as "anarchy in motion."

Harder still is putting an issue together on computers missing keyboards and mice.

Larry Piegza, information systems manager for Sub-Board I, Inc., which publishes Generation, discovered a copy of Quark XPress publishing software licensed to UB's Art Department illegally installed on the magazine's computers Monday afternoon. Piegza then attempted to confiscate the computers as a "wake-up call" to the Generation staff, hoping to "facilitate a meeting with the editors as soon as possible."

Following the theft of some of its computers nearly two years ago, the machines were bolted to the magazine's desks; since Sub-Board could not find the keys to the locks, Piegza took the computers' keyboards and mice to his office two floors above in the Student Union and piled them in a corner.

William Hooley, SBI executive director, said Monday's incident was the result of a series of mishaps beginning the week before school began. At the time, the art department notified Hooley that a former Generation staffer had told them the magazine uses software licensed to the department.

"We're pretty conscientious about licensing and the law. ... We try our best to be legal because we have to be," said Adele Henderson, chair of the art department. She added that software maker Quark Inc. could have heavily fined the department or revoked its site license if it determined the software had been improperly copied.

After Hooley spoke with Generation Editor in Chief Christopher Davis concerning the license issue, the magazine's business manager, Anne Marie Bourget, submitted a purchase order to SBI for two copies of Quark XPress. Two weeks later, the order was returned to Bourget because of an error in the licensing agreement.

Bourget said she revised and resubmitted the order, and until two weeks ago had heard nothing from SBI regarding the licensing problem or the Quark order. It was then that Davis received a call from Hooley, asking whether Quark had been removed from their computers. Davis said it had.

"We've been pretty much in the wrong here," said Davis, who removed the software temporarily. "We didn't take it off completely, thinking we could solve the problem before it became a bigger one. We didn't realize how much trouble we'd have getting Quark."

Hooley recently advised Piegza to ensure Quark was removed from the Generation computers. The confiscation of equipment was accompanied by signs left on editors' doors reading:

"Sorry, Generation computers are unavailable. They will be up as soon as we can ensure software copyright compliancy. Please contact the Generation manager with any questions. [Information Systems Staff]."

"We had spoken to [Davis] a while ago, and clearly he wasn't very forthcoming with us," said Hooley. "When that happens, the only way I can ask them to come up here and speak with us is to force their hand."

According to Hooley, SBI would have been primarily responsible should Generation been found liable for copyright violations.

"I know students sometimes take sharing of software very liberally, but when it comes to a publication, we have to make sure we're in compliance," said Hooley.

Bourget, who also works in SBI's information systems office, was able to confirm that Quark had received SBI's purchase order, after the company had "lost our paperwork somehow."

Generation is now awaiting the software's arrival in three to four weeks. In the meantime, the magazine will have to adapt to another publishing program, according to Bourget.

Davis believes the incident could have been avoided through better communication between the magazine and its parent company.

"I don't think at first they thought about what a problem it was," said Davis. "All they're concerned about is that Quark is off all of their computers."

"While Sub Board made a hasty decision in removing our computer equipment, it was our fault for not taking Quark off when they told us to."