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Copyright (and Libel) Discussion

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Larry Chanin, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. Larry Chanin

    Larry Chanin Model S Perf Sig 1055

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    Perhaps you might wish to delete the above remark.

    What does your legal analysis conclude regarding it being libelous? :wink:

    Larry
     
  2. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    Well, as I say, I know for a fact that they're violating copyright law. As for deleting posts, I don't have firsthand evidence, but if what the other fellow said is true, that is super-lame.

    I didn't expect the *company* to be any better than any other car *company*, I just expected the *car* to be better than any other *car* (which as far as I am concerned is true).

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    I'm in the US, and here true statements can't constitute libel. I gave the evidence -- did you read it? Tesla's annual report states outright that they haven't researched the motor vehicle dealership licensing laws in all 50 states, but that they are selling cars in all 50 states. Among other similar statements.

    Edit: Note that, as far as I know, there is no legal requirement for a company to do legal research before starting operations, and I don't think there should be such a requirement, either (talk about the disincentives to start a business!). I'm just saying that it's clear Tesla doesn't do its research.
     
  3. ElSupreme

    ElSupreme Model S 03182

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    They are? Can you elaborate? I am honestly interested, as I have a very particular interest in trademark and patents.

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    Yes but technically I believe they are 'selling' most of the cars out of California. I as a Georgia resident can purchase a car in South Carolina. Tesla is doing the same.

    And as for libel you have to knowingly write damaging untruths. And I would assume Neroden believes his statements are factual, so he seems safe from here.
     
  4. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    Well, those are not copyright, are they? :) So I suppose this won't interest you much.

    We know from research -- watching bootup and service work on cars -- that Tesla is using the Linux kernel and Busybox in the firmware for both Roadster and Model S. Selling a car containing these constitutes distribution of Linux and Busybox. These pieces of software are both licensed *exclusively* under the Gnu General Public License. We know from people receiving Roadsters and Model S that they have not received "complete corresponding source code" for those two programs corresponding to the exact versions used in the firmware, which is required by the license as a condition of distribution. (Distributing the source code for these is ridiculously easy to do, which is why it's embarassing that they're not doing it.) Accordingly, each car sale consists of an unlicensed copy and distribution of (at least) two copyrighted works. The violation is wilful, given that they've been notified of this more than once. I believe both programs' copyrights have been registered (I should check, I'm not 100% sure about that), which if true makes the statutory penalties absurdly large.

    I don't intend to report them to the copyright holders unless I get my own model S without complete corresponding source code and am therefore able to testify firsthand as to the license violation. I'm hoping they'll have this fixed before then (as I say it's easy, even trivial to comply with the license).

    They have a store in Texas, and mentioned explicitly that they're unsure whether they can get away with that without a dealership license, which they can't get in Texas.
    But that's not the only thing; Tesla warn that they haven't researched reservation payment laws in all 50 states, either, and that states other than Washington might require them to be segregated, but that they haven't checked.
     
  5. Larry Chanin

    Larry Chanin Model S Perf Sig 1055

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    #5 Larry Chanin, Sep 13, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
    An excerpt from Law.com's definition of libel:

    I should add that my initial remark was tongue-in-cheek. Note the smilely face. I doubt a statement that is clearly an opinion, even if false, is grounds for libel.

    Larry
     
  6. Arnold Panz

    Arnold Panz Model Sig 304, VIN 542

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    #6 Arnold Panz, Sep 13, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    "Copyright" -- You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means.

     
  7. Arnold Panz

    Arnold Panz Model Sig 304, VIN 542

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    This was a very well covered topic when Tesla brought its case against Top Gear in the UK (technically it was for slander because it wasn't written, but same idea). It doesn't matter what your intent was if the statement is untrue. There is a higher standard for public figures, and presumably Tesla (and/or its officers and directors) would count as such, and that's where sometimes a statement has to be "knowingly" false, although if one is "reckless" in making a statement, you are considered to have "known" it was false if a reasonable person should or could have known it was false -- this is called "constructive" knowledge or intent under the law.

    On a side note, I haven't followed this thread much (who can follow 400+ posts in three days?), but how did we get here? Seems a bit far afield from a $600 annual maintenance charge.
     
  8. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    I have been forced to learn copyright law, whether I wanted to or not.

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    UK libel law is different from US libel law, look it up.

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    Let me be very clear. They *will* violate warranty law *if* they behave in a particular way. So far, all they have done is make statements vaguely threatening to violate warranty law. They have not violated warranty law *yet*.

    They have violated copyright law. The copyright holders are likely to be generous if they fix the breach.
    Hmm. I should recheck the history of Tesla's escrow in Washington; perhaps they segregated payments from day one there, in which case they have not violated *Washington's* escrow law.

    Regarding other states, Tesla has absolutely explicitly stated that they have not *researched* escrow law, and *do not know* whether they are violating escrow law. Does anyone here read annual reports?
     
  9. Arnold Panz

    Arnold Panz Model Sig 304, VIN 542

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    In the thread on the Top Gear lawsuit I did a fairly detailed analysis of the case under US law, and compared it to UK law, which is more favorable to the person allegedly defamed.

    I happen to be a lawyer who has handled many defamation cases, so I'm pretty familiar with the law here and in the UK, but thanks for the advice. You may want to take it easy for awhile -- you seem really wound up in an unhealthy way.
     
  10. Arnold Panz

    Arnold Panz Model Sig 304, VIN 542

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    You keep saying "copyright law" for some software that Tesla is (allegedly) using, but you're not really explaining yourself. I have handled several copyright cases and actually have no idea what you are talking about. I'm not 100% sure that whatever your specific experience was is exactly analagous to whatever it is you think Tesla may have done.

    Can you explain how Tesla's use of this software constitutes a copyright violation? A licensensing violation I can see, but copyright?
     
  11. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    #11 neroden, Sep 13, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
    Yeah, I am a bit wound up. We've seen a lot of that around here, mind you. :)

    If you're wondering why the thread has gone far afield, it's because people are finding Tesla's attitude to be not what they expected. I had lower expectations, but even I am not happy about their cavalier attitude towards copyright law. Edit: This, and reading the annual reports, has led me to the logical conclusion that Tesla is simply not being careful about legal compliance.

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    Ah. Well, apart from fair use considerations, it is not legal to copy and distribute (edit: copyrighted) software absent a license (edit: from the copyright holder). The way the GPL is written is *very straightfoward*; it specifies that the license is conditional on distribution of source. So Tesla is *distributing (edit: distributing copies they have made) without a license*. That is a (civil) infringement of copyright. Pretty straightforward, isn't it? (It takes more to constitute a criminal copyright infringement, but see (edit: title 17) section 506(a)(1)(a) US Code.)

    Edit: how do I know that Tesla doesn't have a separate license agreement with the Linux copyright holders? There are, like, 500 of them. (Edit: and they don't coordinate licensing except by agreeing to use the GPL.)
     
  12. ElSupreme

    ElSupreme Model S 03182

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    Well yes I think copyright is a huge mess and is broken. So I have some interest, as it is similar to trademark and patent, but generally don't care. But touché.

    Well with GNU Public License you just have to offer to provide the source code, I think in writing. It could be in stack of purchase papers for all we know. Not saying it is, not saying it isn't. It seems like every OEM embedded Linux applications have this problem. I could easily see Tesla missing it, or catching it.
     
  13. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    Mods: Can we move the "copyright" conversations to a new thread in the off-topic section? This thread is for the discussion of Tesla's service plans.

    Thanks,
    --The Arrogant Idiot
     
  14. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    Good idea.

    -- The other Arrogant Guy :)
     
  15. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    Correct - a copy does not have to be distributed, but it has to be made available. Linksys was subject to a lawsuit as a result of this a number of years ago. There are other nuances as well which would release Tesla from having to re-publish it, such as if they simply use an off-the-shelf distribution, like an unmodified Ubuntu minimal system... in which case they simply publish that information so that consumers could go to get it from Ubuntu.
     
  16. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    That's why I'm waiting to get my own car.

    Isn't that just the case? It's SLOPPY. Seriously sloppy.

    I think they missed it. I asked Tesla about it, was told they "thought it wouldn't be a problem" (no details), asked later (after getting a different person), got a non-responsive answer that they "didn't have the App Developer Kit" ready, then asked again pointedly explaining that I was talking about license compliance. I really do expect them to fix it soon.
     
  17. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    Tesla says they're using Linux in the entertainment console: Linux Today - Tesla CTO talks Model S, batteries and in-car Linux . I suppose they could claim not to be doing so, but really.

    I don't know for sure, and if I get my car and I find such a written offer (I always read through *everything*), that'll be lovely, thank you!

    But having asked people who got Roadsters and Model S's, they claim they haven't gotten an offer. There are enough techies doing so, you'd think someone would have noticed. Yes, I am making an assumption, but seriously, don't *some* people read through legal documents?

    Because *I notified them*.

    No, they couldn't.

    Copyright law doesn't work that way, for better or worse. There would likely be no *retroactive* damages, but it's a new infringement for each act of distribution.
     
  18. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    Not a lawyer, but I do have some passing experience with brand and IP protection - how defensible is the copyright if other violations have not been pursued?
     
  19. ElSupreme

    ElSupreme Model S 03182

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    100% defensible. You don't have to actively protect copyright. And can sue 1 person and not the 2nd for the exact same violation.

    Like I said before copyright is broken and a huge mess.
     
  20. Arnold Panz

    Arnold Panz Model Sig 304, VIN 542

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    That's true, but then the damages can be quite limited because the violation would only apply to proactive participants seeking redress (money). This is sort of what I meant by "laches", which basically means that if you don't pursue your claim when you know you have one, you basically give it up.

    @Bonnie, these are "copyleft" claim violations, which are different than traditional copyright violations, and I don't know that there's a large body of case law addressing these types of claims. Where you were trying to "protect" something by using copyright/licensing, the purpose of this license is to ensure that the software gets distributed to everyone in a usable form. Obviously, there are no traditional "damages" to calculate like one would have in a normal copyright case. The law frankly hasn't kept up with the technology or concepts, which is why it probably wouldn't be overly difficult for Tesla to address this on the cheap (assuming they even have this problem in the first place).
     

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