Editorial February 1, 2000 Issue

Report to Readers:
When Our Copyrights are Violated

Practical Sailor is unique in the marine industry. It is the only publication devoted to unbiased evaluation and testing of boats and boating gear. To best serve our readers, we do not accept advertising, which would necessarily compromise our findings. Thatís the problem with the ďtestsĒ conducted by other ad-driven magazines. They canít give you the real bottom line for fear of upsetting an advertiser.

Manufacturers believe that advertising a strong, positive rating by Practical Sailor helps increase sales of its product. Many such companies seek permission from Practical Sailorís publisher, Belvoir Publications, to reprint articles in which their products have been favorably rated. When permission is granted, Belvoir controls the entire reprint process to ensure that no changes are made to the article, tables or photographs.

The reason for this was recently made all too clear when we learned that certain copyrighted information contained in an issue of Practical Sailor was not only copied for commercial purposes without our permission, but also adulterated to change our findings. Attempts to reach an amicable settlement with the parties involved in what in our opinion is a highly serious breach of our rights, and our compact with our readers, have so far proved unsuccessful.

This infringement occurred when a New Jersey-based Honda Marine dealer changed the headline of our May 1, 1994 evaluation of 9.9-hp. outboard engines to show that the 9.9-hp. Honda motor, not a similarly sized Mercury motor, was the favored product in our comparison test.

Our efforts to resolve the issue with the dealer and the American Honda Motor Co., Inc. have been unsuccessful to date and Practical Sailor will seek redress through all available legal channels.

For a subscriber-supported periodical whose independence and integrity is its lifeblood there is no more serious and flagrant violation than the deliberate distortion of facts.

Our readers can be assured that Practical Sailor and its parent company, Belvoir Publications, Inc., will work tirelessly to repair the damage this has caused, and will fight to restore its reputation and the trust and confidence it has enjoyed with serious sailors for more than a quarter of a century.

This is the first of several reports we anticipate on this subject, as we intend to cover all aspects of our upcoming efforts to resolve the matter. So far, Honda has failed to issue even a simple apology.

Lastly, we want readers to know that we are constantly on the lookout for unauthorized reprints, whether they are mailed to potential customers or handed out at boat shows. In the case of Honda, we can thank an astute reader for first identifying the altered headline.

Timothy H. Cole
Executive Vice President/Editorial Director
Belvoir Publications, Inc.

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