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Press release - Chappaqua, New York, May 24, 2002

Paul Fernhout and Cynthia Kurtz are proud to announce the beginning of a new organization, tentatively called the Pointrel Foundation. We have decided to formally create a non-profit and donate to it our previous software product development efforts to better align with our future goals for making more free software.

To that end, Kurtz-Fernhout Software is donating the PlantStudio(R) Botanical Illustration Software, the StoryHarp(TM) AudioVenture Authoring System, and the Garden with Insight(TM) garden simulator, along with related goodwill and trademarks, to this new organization, along with some physical assets. The Pointrel Foundation is intended to be a not-for-profit organization developing free software and free content that helps people better understand nature, technology, and society. All the software or content the Pointrel Foundation produces or works on will be released under free licenses, meaning “free as in freedom” as defined by the Free Software Foundation. We will be creating a free digital library of more such content and authoring tools to help others contribute to that mission.

We would like to thank all those hundreds of registered PlantStudio and StoryHarp software users for their loyalty and honesty. Your financial and moral support over the years and your fantastic feedback on our products have helped keep us going. The Pointrel Foundation will continue these previous efforts as free software and will also support new in-house efforts. If you have technical support questions, please continue to send email on them. In the future, the Pointrel Foundation will be taking over all technical support for the PlantStudio software. We have plans to provide mailing lists and other ways that the PlantStudio community of users and developers can keep in communication. We have hopes of releasing improved versions as is possible. For example, we have a new minor version of the PlantStudio software about ready to go, but it may take a while to get it out there. We are not sure what directions development will take when the source is released under the GPL, so let's hope we are all pleasantly surprised. In general, we would like to port all of our projects from Delphi to a more cross-platform system also running on the Macintosh and GNU/Linux (like Java, Python, or Smalltalk).

You will see these changes happening over the next few months. As of this moment we have stopped charging for the PlantStudio and StoryHarp software, and you may receive free registration codes on our order page. We are also offering no-questions-asked refunds on request for anyone who has registered the software in the past month (i.e., since April 24, 2002). Otherwise, if you are a registered user and feel for some reason it was unfair to have asked you to pay for in the past what is now free, please email us and we will see what we can do.

Paul Fernhout will be the Director of the Pointrel Foundation. Cynthia Kurtz will volunteer from time to time but her main focus is shifting to her work at the IBM Cynefin Center for Organizational Complexity, work she finds socially meaningful and has more or less been doing for the last three years in addition to PlantStudio work. We plan on soon moving from Chappaqua, NY to a much less expensive town in the Adirondacks, as sort of a form of voluntary simplicity, so that we can hopefully get by on only Cynthia's salary for a while, allowing Paul to devote his full-time work to this effort.

The change from a shareware marketing model is for several reasons, not the least of which is concerns about the moral road down which overly long copyrights and overly broad software patents (and other forms of knowledge monopolies) are otherwise directing our society. We have never felt good about making some of our users feel like criminals for using the software we wrote without paying: shirkers maybe, criminals no. And why should we make people feel bad about themselves when they are paying us the highest compliment already, by using our work? Perhaps it comes down to this: indirectly, our own personal benefit for writing PlantStudio software and our other projects includes all the other wonderful free stuff on the internet, and it would cost us trillions of dollars if we had to pay for the creation of all that diversity ourselves. We don't mind using guilt to effect change :-) but this time, with products under free license, it will be guilt to go do something positive in the world to pass on the gift, rather than a one-for-one exchange with us.

We're not exactly sure what projects will take priority yet, but watch for announcements. We will shortly be transitioning the PlantStudio software and the StoryHarp software to GPL free software licensing, such as the Garden Simulator has been under since 1997.

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Updated: May 24, 2002. Questions/comments on site to
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