FLAAR legal observations.

FLAAR. is a non-profit organization established under the laws of Rhode Island and registered with IRS for over three decades. FLAAR. is organized as and functions as a research and educational institution.

The entire network of web site reviews is a result of a substantial grant awarded to Dr Nicholas Hellmuth by Japan's Ministry of Education to prepare a master plan for scanning and handling the resultant digital images of Japan's National Museum of Ethnology. Hellmuth was honored as Visiting Professor in Japan during this six month study. Subsequently a grant of $100,000 was awarded to Professor Hellmuth and FLAAR by an American foundation so that FLAAR could prepare a feasibility study for "going digital" in all its projects.

So in effect everything we do in the reviews is part of a long-range program to prepare blueprints for how museums, colleges, universities, and other institutions can know what digital imaging hardware and software is the most appropriate. As we acquired enough background we have expanded this public service to include artists, photographers, and now any individual or company who needs help in digital imaging.

As typical of other publications, incoming mail (e-mail) is utilized to form a wider picture of the state of digital imaging technology, especially what end-users need in terms of equipment, accessories, and help, whether help via future training or more immediate help by means of providing general introductory information. In some instances the information contained in an incoming e-mail may be pertinent enough that we would include it within one of our reviews. In no case, however, is the name of the sender published by FLAAR. on our web sites. The text of e-mails will be edited appropriately to fit in the space, style, and subject matter at hand. Thus any incoming e-mail is sent to us subject to the realization that information in toto or abstracted will be utilized.

FLAAR. naturally keeps copies of incoming e-mails. As we expand and cover other aspects of large format printing more thoroughly, such as media, inks, and laminating equipment, in order to get this new information back to you we will go back to all the earlier e-mails and send you information on media, inks, laminating equipment, and especially on new printers that have appeared on the market since you first wrote us.

When an incoming e-mail expresses interest in a particular product where it is logical that the manufacturer or distributor of that product would be also qualified to answer aspects of the questions posed in the e-mail FLAAR. will forward the pertinent e-mail to the pertinent company so that they may attend better to the needs and questions of the e-mailer. This is especially practical (as mentioned above) as we move into laminating equipment, media, and inks, since we don't really have the staff to handle this on our own. Therefore you will eventually receive notices from various companies about their products. This is because 95% of the incoming e-mails are from first-time users who are just buying their first large format printer. They have not yet faced the need for media, inks, or a laminator; it may be several months after their initial contact with FLAAR that this phase of their large format printing is reached.

Since FLAAR is non-profit it is not always possible to have every page contain the most recent information. Product specs change too often and FLAAR is not a trade magazine. However if you note a page that is missing current information, please let us know. We will do our best to update that page.

Most of the disagreements with our conclusions turn out to be from the president and marketing managers of the products which don't fare so well. It is perfectly understandable, from their perspective, to assume that their competitors have simply bought us off. First, it's not our fault that your competitors, rather than you, are sponsors. That's probably why they are serious competitors; they are quick and know the industry. But discerning readers realize there is a difference between a pseudo-review, an infomercial, and an actual discerning description of a product. Sponsors learn very quickly that FLAAR does not accept corporate PR, corporate PR hype; indeed you don't often see us regurgitating corporate PR photos either. We have found, and pointed out, every feature of every HP printer that does not function (there are not many, but we sure found them all). We do not accept HP's speed claims any more than we accept those of Epson (which are universally considered as beyond the pale). So before you jump to the conclusion that money buys a good review, do basic homework first. All products have their good features (even Epson) and all products have their bad features (even HP). Actually both companies provide equipment and media so we have no vested interest in one over the other (this fact is usually not known).

Actually it's not because we are non-profit that our reviews are independent. The purpose of FLAAR. itself is photographically oriented research and public education in the fields of art history, architectural history, archaeology, anthropology, ethnohistory of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, Central America, and South America, with a focus on pre-Columbian civilizations of Mesoamerica (Mexico through Costa Rica). Because the exotic plants and animals in this tropical region were a key part of the diet and culture of the indigenous peoples of these areas, we also include studies of the tropical flora and fauna of the core region. Our goal under this mandate is to work towards increasing the quantity and quality of a professional level of photography in field work and in museums. It is logical that we are thereby keenly interested in helping people learn about the advantages of high-end digital imaging, both input (scanners and digital cameras) and output (inkjet and laser printers).

The entire network of 12 sites in three languages is actually our own in-house internal reports to ourselves on what hardware and software we have found best suited for our own needs. Since we have grants to learn about all this equipment for our own use, we figured we might as well share this information with the public. So FLAAR is obviously not a trade magazine (we don't accept corporate PR); we were not founded nor originally funded by any commercial company; we just happen to be interested in photography and printing. Product managers, marketing managers, and corporate officers are so accustomed to trade magazines and commercial companies they probably don't realize that an entity such as FLAAR could exist. We are nurtured by challenge and have been successful since readers seek precisely the kind of informal comments and world-wide research that we accomplish.

All images taken by Nicholas Hellmuth, Andrea David, or sent to FLAAR by others is copyright by the respective photographer (or FLAAR in the case of photos by Nicholas Hellmuth). No portion of the text or illustrations of a FLAAR. web site may be reproduced in any manner without prior consent of FLAAR. in writing.

In addition to our web sites and occasional public lectures and articles, FLAAR. is active in digital imaging market research so we can better communicate to the hardware and software companies what the end user needs in terms of new and better features. All too often the needs of first-time users are not attended to by major corporations (who naturally tend to concentrate on the prepress and commercial markets). Since our background is academia and as public education implies a policy of helping newcomers learn about the subject at hand, we work hard at helping newcomers learn about digital imaging (as can be attested to by the countless "thank you" e-mails that we receive weekly from people whom we have helped make a decision on what direction to take as they enter the world of scanners, digital photography, and digital printing).

A current goal in FLAAR. research is to gather together the gist of the incoming e-mails and with this information to prepare booklets, hand-outs, and other information so that additional people can be helped. Since the companies who make the hardware and software rather obviously know more about their products than even ourselves, we are sharing the questions and needs expressed in the requests-for-further-information with the companies so that through feedback from the companies we can all learn more about the products ourselves and hence are better prepared to answer the next round of incoming questions. Thus the questions, observations, facts, and text of incoming e-mails may be utilized as background material or as quotations for informational publications of FLAAR. so that we may provide more complete information to all who come to FLAAR. for help in learning about digital imaging needs. All rights in letters, articles, and reviews sent to any FLAAR. editor or e-mail address will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication and copyright purposes and are subject to FLAAR.'s unrestricted right to edit.

A primary reason for sharing your comments and observations is that our goal is to find the "ideal large format printer" that will satisfy each of your needs. Naturally in the real world all the needed features are not present in just one single make or model. But when we send the companies the list of your needs, this encourages the companies to add additional features so that the next update will be more helpful in your business.

e-mail should go to [email protected]. If you happen to have a question on legal matters, Andrea David, Co-Director, is a lawyer and will be interested in your observations. In real life she is a corporate attorney for a major multi-national company headquartered in Bonn, Germany.


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