Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

WSFS Mark Protection Committee Election at A4

If you have no interest in the political workings of the Worldcon and the World Science Fiction Society, you can skip this message, I think.


The Mark Protection Committee (MPC) of the World Science Fiction Society is the only permanent body of WSFS. Its main job is to serve as the guardian and registrar of WSFS's intellectual property, including the service marks on "Worldcon," "Hugo Award," etc. It also is responsible for the WSFS web sites (not those of individual Worldcons). A few years ago, the MPC set up what is currently called the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee to concentrate on promotion of the Hugo Awards. Out of that came the Hugo Awards Web Site and the contest last year that led to the adoption of an Official Hugo Awards Logo. I'm currently Chairman of the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee, and I have been Chairman of the MPC at times during the past few years, although I am not MPC Chair this year because there were some concerns voiced about having the same person chairing the HAMC and the MPC at the same time, as I had done in 2008-9.

The membership of the MPC consists of appointees from the currently seated and previous two years' WSFS-sanctioned conventions (Worldcons and NASFiCs), and nine elected members, serving three year terms, with staggered elections so that three members are elected each year. Elections are held at the WSFS Business Meeting at each Worldcon. Nominations are entered at the Preliminary Business Meeting (usually on the second day of the convention). Elections are at the first Main Business Meeting (usually on the third day). Nominations and voting are in person only. No proxy voting or voting by mail or other remote means is allowed.

For the past several years, elections to the WSFS Mark Protection Committee have been of almost no interest to the Business Meeting, with several cases of the incumbents being re-elected without opposition or debate. This has apparently led some people to grumble that the Committee has not been properly engaged, and that it is somehow not representative of the policies of WSFS as expressed through the Business Meeting. I intend to change that this year, as one election, at least, will be a specific policy statement.

Election Manifesto

I am one of the three people (the others are Tim Illingworth and Ben Yalow; Kent Bloom's appointment from Denvention 3 also expires) whose terms on the MPC end this year and whose seats are thus up for re-election. For the record, I am a candidate for re-election to the MPC. If I am re-elected to the MPC, I plan to stand for Chairman. If re-elected, I expect to re-appoint the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee as it currently stands possibly plus other persons yet to be identified.

In short, I intend to have my re-election to the MPC serve as a referendum on the accomplishments of the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee and upon the way it has been run and how the MPC was managed during the several years I was Chairman. (I did not chair the MPC this past year, but did so for several years prior to that.) Given my own commitments to a democratically-run organization and to openness in the governance of WSFS, I do not want to be accused of operating in the shadows without oversight. I am aware that not everyone is happy with the direction that WSFS has taken with the promotion of the Hugo Awards through and through the adoption of an official logo, and that there are members of WSFS who think that the current course of action is too "activist" and that all Hugo promotion should and must be solely run by individual Worldcon committees with no central involvement whatsoever. Therefore, I want to give WSFS, though its own processes, an opportunity to publicly decide whether the members want a relatively activist leadership or to return to an era of quiet neglect of its intellectual property.

In this past year, the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee has recommended that the MPC undertake the registration of additional marks: the distinctive design of the Hugo Awards trophy as an award for science fiction and fantasy, and the Hugo Award logo unveiled last year. The MPC has taken no action on this. If I am re-elected, I intend to re-introduce the subject in the coming year and make more of an effort to get a decision rather than simply inaction.

Policy Referendum

I'm saying that if you think that the actions with which I was associated were the right ones, then vote for me, because if you do, you can expect more of the same, and if not, support other candidates who will take WSFS in the direction you consider more appropriate. I'm freely willing to admit that I might be wrong and that the only appropriate method of promoting the Hugo Awards is through the individual uncoordinated actions of specific Worldcon committees, and if the democratically-expressed will of the membership is against me on this issue, then so be it.

If you are attending Aussiecon 4, I hope you will take the opportunity to attend the WSFS Business Meetings and participate in the society's open "town meeting" democracy. The whole thing may seem a little esoteric or boring, but policy decisions established here can have major effects upon Worldcon, so I think it is important than the members actively represent themselves here.
Tags: hugo award, worldcon, wsfs
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