"Open Source Media": In Case You're Confused,

Update, 11/18 11:42 am

If you’re just arriving, there have been some new developments since we posted this. They’re explained in the following two posts:

They posted to their own site yesterday under the title “About Our Name,” then pulled the post off again. Since that explanation — that lived so briefly — was the only response to our emailed inquiry, we went ahead and examined it. Much of it was either untrue or strangely argued. Read The Name Problem, Part II

This morning they posted new and different text under the same title, “About Our Name.” It is still strangely argued, but now they are claiming that we’ve “graciously agreed” to something. This is impossible, since we’ve had no contact with them at all, and certainly haven’t agreed to anything, graciously or not. Read The Name Problem, Part III


In May we named our show “Open Source” and we named our non-profit production company “Open Source Media.” In fact, this used to be our URL until we decide to scrap the “net” and look for an “org.” But here’s the actual legal-type description of what we are:

A joint production of Open Source Media Inc. and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Open Source is presented by WGBH Radio Boston and distributed by Public Radio International (PRI).

What this means is that we are seven people in a rented office with, incidentally, a rather bold mouse who does not yet have a name. We make a radio show four times a week that uses bloggers as local and topical experts; this show is distributed to public radio stations by Public Radio International, and to truckers and early adopters by XM satellite radio.

So this morning I got an email from a listener with the following subject header:

did someone steal your name?

Hm. A company that used to call itself Pajamas Media now calls itself Open Source Media, which is — scroll down to our legal notice — kind of exactly what we call ourselves. They’ve collected $3.5 million in venture capital, and, to celebrate their re-naming of our already-named name, they’re holding an event at the Rainbow Room.

So what to do. A couple of blogs — Atrios, Stephen den Beste, Dennis the Peasant, Begging to Differ, Homocon — have picked up on this already, unprompted, perhaps because if you Google “open source media”, we’re the third result. Presumably the new “Open Source Media” Googled their new name before they settled on it?

Don’t get us wrong; we didn’t invent the idea of working with bloggers to make media, we certainly didn’t invent the concept “open source,” and there’s plenty of room for everyone to do what we’ve been doing. But they chose the same name that we established in May and, seeing as how we work in the same industry, people might find that a little confusing. And that has us puzzled.

Update 11/16, 4:33 pm

The Talent Show and Daily Kos point out that the original idea behind “open source” — the software concept, not the radio show — was that you borrow from the work of others, then release your own work back out to be borrowed in turn. To that end, we made a priority from the very beginning of putting a Creative Commons license on our site and all of the mp3 files of our broadcasts.


31 thoughts on “"Open Source Media": In Case You're Confused,

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  2. Fixed, Stephen. And from here the universe seems to be expanding at more or less the same rate. I think we’re all gonna be ok.

  3. As a software engineer, and someone who manages a citizen journalism resource in Philadelphia, and someone who uses a creative commons license, I find their use of the phrase “open source” offensive media marketing blather.

    I second what Steven Den Beste said. In light of the new OSM’s licensing terms – doubly so.

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  5. I’ve been troubled by the moniker Open Source from the start – the name has such an important and specific meaning in the software community, it just seems wierd to take it for a radio show, no matter how networked and cool it is. And don’t get me wrong – I love the radio show and am addicted to the podcast. I risk strangulation to listen to it in bed on my iPod. But maybe now is the time to bite the bullet and pick a distinctive name that you can make your own.

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  12. Here’s what OSM has to say about the name on their site:


    IMHO, all well and good so far (although I’d like to hear Chris’ thoughts on being called a gentleman with a website) except in my complete layman’s opinion, isn’t there likelihood of confusion when you have a radio show called Open Source and a company called Open Source Media? If Open Source were a sub shop in a Massachusetts strip mall, OK, no problem, but it’s a syndicated show…

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  14. Regarding the mouse: if you would no longer like the rodent company, try the sound emitter type of mouse deterent. Set it up in the basement, if your office space has one.

    Better than traps.

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