But what exactly took place between Paterra, Derwent, and PIUG to cause such bitterness, and what relevance--if any--does it have for the wider information industry?
Engel himself refuses to discuss the matter with Information Today, PIUG will say no more than that it was a regrettable misunderstanding, and--not surprisingly--Derwent also prefers not to comment.
It was not so much his allegations, as the way that the PIUG board responded to them.
To the chagrin of PIUG, the message was mistakenly copied to the mailing list, thereby flagging--rather than downplaying--Engel's complaint and sparking a flurry of replies pointing out that the board's attitude directly contradicted everything that PIUG stood for.
The reaction of the PIUG board, then, only served to reinforce Engel's allegation, creating a "no smoke without fire" impression.
An employee of one--speaking on condition of anonymity--recounts his anger at the proprietorial reaction of the PIUG board when his company tried to organize a fringe workshop at the recent PIUG conference in Berkeley, California.
Certainly if PIUG had held to its initial intention of barring vendors from its meetings, such controversy would have been avoided.
So how and why did PIUG mutate from advocacy group to sponsored conference organizer?
Over time, explains Kaback, a feeling developed that, in addition to advocacy, PIUG should play an educational role for members.
At the same time, PIUG was discovering that organizing meetings is an expensive business.
For PIUG, then, sponsorship soon became an essential ingredient for survival.
Nonetheless, insists Kaback, PIUG cuts no special deals with sponsors.