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The Missing Manuals

U.S. Only? We Want to Change That

by Derrick Story

An issue that has surfaced since we announced the Mac OS X Innovators contest is item #13 in the eligibility rules where it says that the competition is open to "legal U.S. residents living in the continental 48 United States other than Florida."

I've received some mail inferring that we're thumbing our nose at the international community by not accepting entries from outside American borders. This arises at a time when sentiment toward the U.S. is already at a low point within the world community.

Since I'm not a political commentator, I'm not qualified to discuss current international tensions. But I do want to address this contest restriction and give you an update.

What Some People Are Saying

I wouldn't say that my mailbox is flooded with protests, but I have received some interesting notes. One reader comments:

"You have entitled your awards the "Mac OS X Innovators" contest. Are you claiming that innovation stops at the US border? Many of the most profound innovations have originated outside of the US."

Another writes:

"Well that's kind of lame as it will definitely give a very limited and skewed selection of the products out there..."

But then I've received notes from others who have been down this road before:

"I ran a contest that was sponsored by IBM and had the same restrictions and took a lot of heat for it. Letters typically told us how small our world must be if it only included the US -- what our attorneys said is that in order to run a contest in different countries we had to investigate the laws of each country and the cost was just prohibitive. In our contest we weren't even giving away that much but the laws that govern it were unusual. Consider that you can't even open the contest in every state in the US because of local laws. I would doubt O'Reilly has the resources to check for each country in the EU and then the Asian countries scream and then the Middle East..."

Points Well-Taken

This issue aside, we've worked hard to create an event with a low barrier to entry. But the "U.S. Resident" clause is not sitting well with some folks, including myself. I contacted our legal counsel and inquired what our options are. Fortunately, he was willing to dig a little deeper and see what he can do. I've also talked with our vice president who oversees this event.

My experience with lawyers is that they like to rely on language that they know is safe. Thanks to your letters -- and some of them were even polite -- I'm pushing back on this restriction.

I want you to know that O'Reilly is committed to running the best Mac OS X Innovators contest possible. As soon as I have something new to report, I'll post it on this site.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.

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