(To start let me make clear that while I write for GeekDad, I did not ask their permission or seek their approval in any way for writing what follows. It is just my opinion and does not represent anyone else at GeekDad in any way.)
So if you haven’t seen it yet, GeekDad’s Editor and Chief, Ken Denmead wrote up a blog post this morning explaining in brief why the blog left its home at Wired.com two years ago and struck out on its own. Ken wrote the article to celebrate the resolution of our dispute with Conde Nast over the ownership of the GeekDad name. Now all that’s left is to pay the extortion… er, I mean fees… Conde Nast wants GeekDad to pay in order to retain ownership of a name that Conde Nast had no rights to in the first place. Let’s put it this way, the fees, while ridiculous, were less expensive than the legal fees to prove GeekDad owned its own brand. Sigh…
There’s not much to add except this: Ken did not go into detail about the dispute which led us to leave in the first place. For my readers, I think its worth an explanation why I couldn’t stay at Wired.com.
To start, none of the writers at GeekDad had a contract with either Wired or Conde Nast. We were subcontractors for Ken Denmead who had a contract with Wired for content. Ken was asked to sign a contract that stated that Conde Nast had first rights of refusal to any media or products that resulted from anything directly posted on GeekDad or anything related to things posted on GeekDad.
This caused a problem for many of us as creators for a couple of reasons. First, none of us were contracted directly with Conde Nast, but if our intellectual property (IP) appeared on GeekDad, Conde Nast now had a claim to it. More problematically, Conde Nast didn’t just claim IP rights to what was written on the site but more importantly to anything related to things written on GeekDad. That’s the part that really got to me and was a clear deal breaker.
What if I wanted to write a book on geeky travel? There had been plenty of articles on GeekDad about such things, although I hadn’t written any. It wasn’t hard to imagine that Conde Nast would demand first rights of refusal for such work. If the book became successful, they could suddenly claim I owed them money.
I would have ended up asking Conde Nast’s permission before I published or created anything remotely related to GeekDad, or down the road if it took off and made money, they might find a way to tie it back into GeekDad and demand a share of my work.
There is no way I would have published my ten part serial story Gravlander on GeekDad. Conde Nast could have then claimed the whole of the Pax Imperium as part of its IP. If that universe had ever taken off, they might have come knocking.
I wasn’t alone in my concerns. Many staff let Ken know that the contract was a non-starter. It was a really ridiculous contract to dangle in front of a bunch or writers who were making at most a symbolic wage for each article. Ken to his credit didn’t like the contract either and decided along with his editorial team to leave and strike out on his own. Now two years later GeekDad finally owns its name, although there is a hefty bill for that. We would love to have your help to pay it off. There’s a Go Fund Me campaign and a Patreon account.
No matter what, I’m just glad I still get to be a GeekDad.