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Plagiarizing a Takedown Notice

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the cheaper-than-paying-lawyers dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 113

ChipMonk writes "Over at hobbyist site OS News, editor-in-chief Thom Holwerda published a highly skeptical opinion of the announcement of Commodore USA's own Amiga line. Within hours, Commodore USA sent a takedown notice to OS News, demanding a retraction of the piece and accusing the site of libel and defamation. What's funny is that the takedown notice was mostly copied, with minor edits, from Chilling Effects, a site dedicated to publicizing attempts at squelching free speech. The formatting, line breaks, obtuse references to 'OCGA,' and even the highlighted search terms were left largely intact."

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Google Makes It Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33492398)

Wouldn't you want to copy the content of the top search reference for "Takedown Notices"?

boilerplate (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33492412)

Can boilerplate language be "plagiarized"?

Re:boilerplate (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 4 years ago | (#33492472)

I suppose it can. There are legal companies that sell boilerplate contracts online like for a landlord/tenant, so people can print them out and use them for a fee. I don't suppose if another company sprang up and used their templates, those companies would be too happy. If the original companies wrote the templates themselves, I can't imagine why they wouldn't have a case.

IANAL though.

It Shouldn't Be (1)

anguirus.x (1463871) | about 4 years ago | (#33492554)

This isn't something that is being invented, or a work being created. Since the boilerplate is not a copyrightable work there's no issue with plagiarism.

Re:It Shouldn't Be (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33492624)

Copyright violations and plagiarism are not the same thing. One has a narrow (or not so narrow) legal definition while the other is a common word indicating an generally unethical copying of work and presenting it as one's own. So IMO yes it can be plagiarized even if it isn't a legal issue.

Re:It Shouldn't Be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33493276)

One has a narrow (or not so narrow) legal definition while the other is a common word indicating an generally unethical copying of work and presenting it as one's own. So IMO yes it can be plagiarized even if it isn't a legal issue.

Unless you buy the whole idea that recycling your own work in another paper is plagiarism, like some people are doing with the idea of self-plagiarism. Jeez, I thought "lazy" [outside of where it was necessary] was the right word as you can't by definition plagiarize your OWN WORKS.

Re:It Shouldn't Be (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 4 years ago | (#33492724)

Since the boilerplate is not a copyrightable work

Why not? Somebody at some point created it.

Re:It Shouldn't Be (2, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | about 4 years ago | (#33492902)

> Why not? Somebody at some point created it.

Under US copyright law only "creative expression" is protected, not mere "sweat of the brow".

Re:It Shouldn't Be (3, Funny)

modecx (130548) | about 4 years ago | (#33493066)

Hrm. Lately, i've seen a lot more 'creativity' in contracts, EULAs and the such, than I've seen in many other industries.

Re:It Shouldn't Be (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 years ago | (#33493684)

The selection of words used in boilerplate are not dictated by circumstances. Many different choices of words are possible to express essentially the same idea, as with any letter.

So how is the choice of wording for a particular boilerplate letter, not a 'creative expression' ?

Re:It Shouldn't Be (1)

laurelraven (1539557) | about 4 years ago | (#33494516)

Why is this marked Troll?

Re:It Shouldn't Be (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 years ago | (#33495050)

I guess someone was looking for -1 Disagrees with Parent, or -1 Reminder of inconvenient facts, but couldn't find those?

Re:It Shouldn't Be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33493980)

bullshit. if i were to write a math book, i could easily copyright it.

Re:It Shouldn't Be (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | about 4 years ago | (#33493042)

Why isn't the boilerplate a copyrightable work? There are a million different ways to convey the intended message, and the one they chose is a matter of expression in the same way that a news article is.

Re:It Shouldn't Be (2, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 years ago | (#33493662)

What criteria makes you think it is not a copyrightable work?

The person who makes boilerplate text has created:

  • An original work, if no one else had written that particular boiler plate text before
  • They authored it
  • The boiler plate is literary in nature, being as it is comprised of words, numbers, or verbal/numerical symbols, and it is non-dramatic, being that it is not a work that is performed.
  • The boiler plate is fixed it into a tangible form (ASCII coded text stored on a computer disk)

The person who customizes boilerplate to send a letter has simply changed some blanks in the text, to personalize it, creating a new letter that is a derivative of the boilerplate text

Re:boilerplate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33492742)

More importantly, did anyone bother to determine whether the same law firm was behind both before posting an inflammatory headline?

That depends on country. (1)

Cyberax (705495) | about 4 years ago | (#33492990)

That depends on country. For example, in Russia by law texts of all legal contracts and notices are out of copyright.

The only exception is contracts which are not yet used, which can be treated as literary works. I.e. if you ask a lawyer to write a contract then it'll be protected by copyright. But once you use this contract in a deal with a customer, this contract falls out of copyright. Your counterparty can freely post it, shamelessly plagiarize it and so on.

Re:boilerplate (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 4 years ago | (#33492530)

I asked that very same question in a manifesto I published a few years ago. Ye shall be sued.

Re:boilerplate (3, Interesting)

rm999 (775449) | about 4 years ago | (#33492574)

Not really, but it is still copyright infringement and hence you can be sued for it.

IANAL, but Wikipedia, the most reliable legal source known to man, says that plagiarism is not a legal concept, is not the same thing as copyright infringement, and is "concerned with the unearned increment to the plagiarizing author's reputation that is achieved through false claims of authorship".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagiarism#Legal_aspects [wikipedia.org]

Re:boilerplate (2, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 years ago | (#33493714)

Arguably if they are sending down a takedown notice, this is not about getting 'credit ' for authorship. In fact they are not publishing anything when they send a takedown letter, or authorizing anything to be published. So it is questionable that it could be called plagiarism when they aren't even publishing a work.

The letter has a specific utilitarian purpose, and while the sender may be signing a statement to swear in affirmation to what the letter says is true... Signing a legal statement does not in any way imply or guarantee you wrote that statement.

Not only is authorship not implicitly understood when sending a letter like this, it is assumed and known that such letters or contracts are provided by the person or organization's legal team / advisors, and not really a work of authorship by the company sending it .

That is: "cease and decist" letters and "contracts" are factual agreements between two parties, not pieces of art, that the parties to the agreement get any credit for writing; they only get credit (in the case of contract) for having come to the agreement, when both parties sign.

Well I think that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33496034)

Arguably if they are sending down a takedown notice, this is not about getting 'credit ' for authorship. In fact they are not publishing anything when they send a takedown letter, or authorizing anything to be published. So it is questionable that it could be called plagiarism when they aren't even publishing a work.

The letter has a specific utilitarian purpose, and while the sender may be signing a statement to swear in affirmation to what the letter says is true... Signing a legal statement does not in any way imply or guarantee you wrote that statement.

Not only is authorship not implicitly understood when sending a letter like this, it is assumed and known that such letters or contracts are provided by the person or organization's legal team / advisors, and not really a work of authorship by the company sending it .

That is: "cease and decist" letters and "contracts" are factual agreements between two parties, not pieces of art, that the parties to the agreement get any credit for writing; they only get credit (in the case of contract) for having come to the agreement, when both parties sign.

Re:boilerplate (0)

AtomicJake (795218) | about 4 years ago | (#33496652)

... but Wikipedia, the most reliable legal source known to man, ...

Lol. This one's great!

Re:boilerplate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33492828)

Yes, I do it all the time. Saves a lot of effort, really.

Re:boilerplate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33493346)

Years ago we had a lawyer tell us that all they do when creating contracts is copy other contracts. I don't know if it's still the case today, but I don't know why it wouldn't be.

So, contract A says "we agree to pay xxx" and contract B needs to say something else? I don't think so.

strange brew that's also good for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33492422)

That would be home made Kombucha

Well, the accusation of libel and defamation (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 4 years ago | (#33492446)

and not copyright infringement.

Re:Well, the accusation of libel and defamation (2, Informative)

mounthood (993037) | about 4 years ago | (#33492600)

Well, the accusation of libel and defamation and not copyright infringement.

From the summary: "Chilling Effects, a site dedicated to publicizing attempts at squelching free speech"

Re:Well, the accusation of libel and defamation (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | about 4 years ago | (#33492792)

Well, the accusation of libel and defamation and not copyright infringement.

From the summary: "Chilling Effects, a site dedicated to publicizing attempts at squelching free speech"

Try reading the actual letter instead of the misleading summary. It's not a takedown notice.

Re:Well, the accusation of libel and defamation (1)

mounthood (993037) | about 4 years ago | (#33492894)

> It's not a takedown notice

Right. The OP implied that it wasn't ironic because they copied text, but didn't accuse a copyright violation. It's humorous because it's an attempt to chill free speech, made by copying a letter from a site working against this.

So, why not? (4, Insightful)

pedantic bore (740196) | about 4 years ago | (#33492456)

I would guess that most takedown notices look pretty much alike.

Might as well save the money that a lawyer would charge to cut and paste this document... because you're probably going to pay that money to your lawyer for something else.

Re:So, why not? (3, Insightful)

unixan (800014) | about 4 years ago | (#33492924)

Might as well save the money that a lawyer would charge to cut and paste this document.

On the flip side:

A. This is results in very asymmetric lawyer costs. The recipient is going to have to spend lawyer time to defend against it that the sender didn't just to send it.

B. By not spending time on a decent lawyer to ensure the takedown is unique and covers the case law for their own jurisdiction, Commodore may have unwittingly given up any legitimate rights they might have had in this dispute.

C. Lawyers are truly valuable at convincing clients to not start legal disputes. By not vetting this by a lawyer, they may started a snowball of subsequent legal costs that could've been avoided entirely if/when they lose. A neat trick used by some defendants, when they're sure to recover most of their defense costs in the end, is to drag out the legal dispute just to teach the other side a lesson.

Re:So, why not? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 4 years ago | (#33493280)

The recipient is going to have to spend lawyer time to defend against it that the sender didn't just to send it.

Please note that the recipient has delivered the reply from Arkell v. Pressdram [wikipedia.org] . How much lawyer time does it take to draft two words?

Re:So, why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33493104)

Well for one thing, it's habitual with this guy. Here's a forum thread on how his site was doing a rip of Apple's Mini page.
http://www.amiga.org/forums/showthread.php?t=52985&page=6 [amiga.org]

Clearly, (4, Funny)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 4 years ago | (#33492462)

The correct situation in this, as in all cases, is for the original author to issue a takedown notice. I bet they already have one on hand...

Please (1)

Airdorn (1094879) | about 4 years ago | (#33492476)

God damn it, I hope all this is false... I really want one of those keen Commodores.

Re:Please (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 4 years ago | (#33492852)

Uhhh...dude? It is just an Asian POS system that Commodore USA rebadged. If you'll head over to OSNews, site of the original article, they have a link to the POS website. All you get by buying it from Commodore USA is a sticker and a 40-60% markup.

Re:Please (1)

Airdorn (1094879) | about 4 years ago | (#33493124)

Damn it, I forgot the obligatory ;)

Re:Please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33494172)

Sounds like a Mac...

Re:Please (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | about 4 years ago | (#33494362)

I'm leery of any computer company based in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. Florida is the capitol of sleazy companies. And I'd be worried that the PCs on bootup would ask you whether you want to take a free, easy personality test too. (Okay, Ft L. is not Clearwater but ya never know...)

Not a big deal (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 4 years ago | (#33492484)

Yes, it's slightly amusing given the context but it's certainly not actionable. It's perfectly normal to copy a boilerplate legal notice from some template you found on the Internet and change it around to suit your purposes. Is anybody seriously suggesting that every DMCA takedown notice has to be originally written from scratch?

Re:Not a big deal (1)

perlchild (582235) | about 4 years ago | (#33492534)

Normally a template written in that way wouldn't be quite so recognizable. Would you leave highlighted search terms(from the summary) in a template you sell?

This is more on the "we don't care about anyone's right to be copied but ours" area of legal that can get them slapped by a judge, hopefully.

Re:Not a big deal (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33492620)

This is more on the "we don't care about anyone's right to be copied but ours" area of legal that can get them slapped by a judge, hopefully.

Except their complaint has absolutely nothing to do with copyright. Theirs is one of libel and defamation.

The fact that nearly everyone around here instantly assumes that any legal action has to do with copyright says a lot about the level of critical thinking that goes on here.

Re:Not a big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33492866)

The fact that nearly everyone around here instantly assumes that any legal action has to do with copyright says a lot about the level of critical thinking that goes on here.

You're being way too generous in your criticism. You're assuming that most of us have read the article.

Re:Not a big deal (1)

cgenman (325138) | about 4 years ago | (#33494420)

If you were sending out a legal letter about defamation, would you do so while indulging in copyright infringement?

Similarly, not only was the take down notice embarrassingly amateurish and potentially criminal, it was an attempt to take down an article that claimed they were embarrassingly amateurish and potentially criminals. I could definitely see this takedown notice being used by the defense in a civil proceeding to show the article's merit.

Re:Not a big deal (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | about 4 years ago | (#33492536)

Is anybody seriously suggesting that every DMCA takedown notice has to be originally written from scratch?

It would be a start...

Re:Not a big deal (2, Insightful)

mounthood (993037) | about 4 years ago | (#33492556)

Its not a DMCA, and saying "It's perfectly normal" doesn't make it legal. Who owns the copyright on the text which was copied?

Re:Not a big deal (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | about 4 years ago | (#33493238)

I'll go you one better. I think every legal notice should need to be written from scratch. There can be standardized language, but any and all legal notices should come from a lawyer, not a template or for-sale pre-written package. My reasons for wanting that have absolutely nothing to do with this story in any way, shape, or form, however. I want it so that there is greater specificity in legal notices given out, and that the merits are strongly considered before being issued.

Re:Not a big deal (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 years ago | (#33493766)

Yeah... and it's perfectly normal to copy clip art images from some template you found on the internet and use them on your web site too. But some folks may still take exception [slashdot.org] to this.

For now, though, RIAA, MPAA, ASCAP, and patent trolls are the big thing, though, I guess.

But how long will it be seriously, before we have an association of legal/public document trolls?

They must find it sickening that sites like chilling effects are even allowed to exist. And US code and the text of actual laws is allowed to be published online, without the US and state representatives who wrote the law getting any royalties??

Re:Not a big deal (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 years ago | (#33493912)

Sorry, in my haste, I made an error

Should be:

And US code and the text of actual laws is allowed to be published online, without the US and state LOBBYISTS who wrote the law getting any royalties for each view??

Re:Not a big deal (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | about 4 years ago | (#33495294)

As for any other document, you don't need to write it from scratch - you can reuse parts from documents you have previously written, or you may copy documents that the author has given you permission to copy and adapt - but you are not allowed to copy&adapt other authors works that you somehow downloaded from the internet.

Copyright applies to legalese letters in exactly the same manner as to novels or music.

It makes perfect sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33492506)

They want to chill speech. There is no need to be original when they can just copy it from a site that catalogs the worst oppressors.

Freedom of the Press (1)

mounthood (993037) | about 4 years ago | (#33492538)

Freedom of the Press belongs to those who can afford it.

We had it good for a while, but the powers that be want the old structure back. You'll be able to talk trash on some small, out of the way website, but if it's large and part of the "new media" they'll want it to play by the old rules; meaning, he who has the gold, rules. You don't have to hire lawyers, just cut-and-paste a threat.

Re:Freedom of the Press (3, Insightful)

Swanktastic (109747) | about 4 years ago | (#33492858)

The "powers that be" in this particular case is some guy in Florida who buys China Ubuntu boxes, slaps a Commodore sticker on them and sells them as Commodore machines. It's not some Fortune 100 company, it's a dude who runs the business out of his furniture warehouse. He hasn't even filed a suit or hired a lawyer, so it's the internet equivalent of "Take that back." I don't think this particular incident is terribly good proof that "He who has the gold makes the rules."

I mean, right now I could paste some legal jargon into this post demanding that you admit your statement was injurious to me, and it wouldn't really indicate anything at all about our legal system.

Re:Freedom of the Press (3, Insightful)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | about 4 years ago | (#33495564)

On the other hand, your taking the action of pasting "some legal jargon into this post" might be a seen as an indicator that the U.S. legal system has become so seriously flawed that those who wish to abuse it feel no compunction against doing so, while those who take the pasted "legal jargon" seriously may be doing so because they are only too aware that the U.S. legal system has indeed been weaponized.

Yay!!! (4, Interesting)

7bit (1031746) | about 4 years ago | (#33492570)

Yay!!! Thank you for this story! Whatever your point is or the controversy is supposed to be, all that matters is that I now know that there is movement again on the Commodore/Amiga front. Who knows when I would have learned about any of this otherwise? CommodoreUSA owes you a debt of gratitude for this advertising I'm sure.

Most of what brought me into the computer age was my C64 and later my Amiga. Many today won't have been old enough to remember that computer/software/game stores like Software Etc. in the malls at one point were at least half Amiga software, written by Microsoft even. If that oil barron hadn't bought out Commodore and purposely run it into the ground to bankrupt it Commodore would have shaped the entire computer industry!

Today a computer is a computer, but back then an Amiga was so far ahead of everything else it was amazing! A fully windowed multitasking color OS that was easy to use 10 years before Windows 95. Think about that shit. Even Billy Gates was writing software for it. God, what could have been... And the games for it were amazing, and not just for when they came out.

I'll have to read up on what the new version of the company is up to but good luck to them. Years ago I thought about how Amiga would be the perfect way to reintroduce the concept of a complete computer in a keyboard etc. I'm gratified to see that someone else had the same idea and dream. I hope it succeeds in some way.

Re:Yay!!! (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 4 years ago | (#33493032)

If that oil barron(sp) hadn't bought out Commodore and purposely run it into the ground to bankrupt it Commodore would have shaped the entire computer industry!

So you're saying the whole computer industry would now be companies producing machines made of glued together proprietary custom chips, which was the architecture of the Amiga. We should thank said 'oil baron' then.

Re:Yay!!! (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 4 years ago | (#33495680)

So you're saying the whole computer industry would now be companies producing machines made of glued together proprietary custom chips,

Where are you getting your non-proprietary chips from? It doesn't matter whether you buy from Intel, AMD or any other chip maker. The chips in your computer are patented, trademarked and copyrighted out the wazoo.

Re:Yay!!! (1)

Jaime2 (824950) | about 4 years ago | (#33493118)

Read the press release. All they plan on bringing back is the Commodore logo and form factor. It's pretty obvious that they are going to put commodity parts in the box and run either Windows or Linux.

BTW, Bill Gates wrote software for everything. Back when Microsoft had nothing but BASIC in their product portfolio, they'd port it to anything with a blinking light.

Re:Yay!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33493818)

Read the press release. All they plan on bringing back is the Commodore logo and form factor. It's pretty obvious that they are going to put commodity parts in the box and run either Windows or Linux.

Looks like you're the one that needs to read the press release. It says right in there that they plan on using AROS which is an open-source clone of the old Amiga 3 OS. Which frankly doesn't sound like a very good idea to me. I mean that old system was ahead of its time but not nowadays.

It's too bad they're not using that Inferno stuff or whatever it's called now that was planned for the new Amiga OS 4 (or was it 5/6?). It is/was kind of an interesting design. It basically uses a VM assembly language to distribute all code and it's compiled on the fly for the local processor (sort of like a modern JIT'd language but lower level). Either that or use a BeOS-like system (Haiku or whatever). Either of those would be better than AROS. Hell, Linux would be better than AROS.

Re:Yay!!! (1)

damnbunni (1215350) | about 4 years ago | (#33495372)

It's too bad they're not using that Inferno stuff or whatever it's called now that was planned for the new Amiga OS 4 (or was it 5/6?). It is/was kind of an interesting design. It basically uses a VM assembly language to distribute all code and it's compiled on the fly for the local processor (sort of like a modern JIT'd language but lower level). Either that or use a BeOS-like system (Haiku or whatever). Either of those would be better than AROS. Hell, Linux would be better than AROS.

Even more to the point, AmigaOS 4.1 would be better than AROS.

Except that they don't have a license for AmigaOS 4.1, and it won't run on this hardware anyway.

AROS won't even run actual Amiga programs.

Re:Yay!!! (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 4 years ago | (#33495762)

These days, if you want to distribute any sort of a non-mainstay "VM assembly" and wish for it to gain any sort of acceptance, it better be LLVM bitcode. Either that, or stick to CLR or JVM. It takes way too much work to create a half-decent optimizing backend, when starting from scratch.

Re:Yay!!! (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 4 years ago | (#33495382)

anything with a blinking light.

Indeed, even HTML had a version of BASIC.

Re:Yay!!! (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 4 years ago | (#33495694)

Back when Microsoft had nothing but BASIC in their product portfolio, they'd port it to anything with a blinking light.

Except that you needed to install Service Patch 2 for blinking light compatibility.

Re:Yay!!! (1)

JackDW (904211) | about 4 years ago | (#33496390)

Amiga has been on the point of resurrection for nearly two decades now. It has never happened. The idea of an Apple-like rebirth was being seriously discussed in the late 90s: products were even planned. As a little historical curiousity, this video, Back for the Future [google.com] , was doing the rounds amongst Amigans. It even seemed like it might happen for a while. But the "year of the Amiga desktop" has been and gone.

Like you say, Commodore is just a brand now. You can find Commodore machines in PC World. They are Windows PCs.

Re:Yay!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33496476)

Too bad they are just a bunch of frauds trying to milk the last few drops from the Amiga brand. Amiga went bankrupt in 1994, and shortly after that has been in the hands of a conman, 10 years and not a single product has been shipped (not even t-shirts people paid for)... It is even questionable if Amiga Inc even has rights to the Amiga brand at all...

For a comprehensive writeup on the subject please see http://sites.google.com/site/freeamiga/

sounds pretty libelous to me (2, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 4 years ago | (#33492590)

From the article:

Unless proven otherwise, I'm assuming for now that Commodore USA is, at best, a hoax, and at worst, a very inept con.

If you're going to claim someone's business is somewhere between a hoax and a con, you'd better have something better than supposition based off a legal settlement and your subjective opinion of the company's website.

It's called libel, and it's not free speech- and the author seems to be assuming they're guilty until proven innocent. He's got no right to complain about being treated the same way.

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (4, Informative)

KibibyteBrain (1455987) | about 4 years ago | (#33492672)

He didn't saying that Commodore USA is a hoax or con merely that he is "assuming" they are, which I presume is a way of trying to say he will treat them with such skepticism in his actions. While probably not the clearest wording those still mean different things. Something like the difference between writing"Joe is a murderer." and "Until proven otherwise, I am going to assume Joe committed the murder."

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (1)

Opyros (1153335) | about 4 years ago | (#33493504)

But does that make enough difference? IANAL, but my understanding is that the use of weasel words such as "allegedly" is no defense in defamation cases; this sounds all too similar.

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33493768)

But does that make enough difference? IANAL, but my understanding is that the use of weasel words such as "allegedly" is no defense in defamation cases; this sounds all too similar.

Allegedly, Opyros likes to rape little children.

Mr. Dennit: Ricky, your little obscene gesture is going to cost you 100 points. Do you know how much that costs us in sponsorship dollars?
Ricky: With all due respect, Mr. Dennit, I had no idea you'd gotten experimental surgery to have your balls removed.
Mr. Dennit: What did you just say to me?
Ricky: What? I said it with all due respect!
Mr. Dennit: Just because you say that doesn't mean you get to say whatever you want to say to me!

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 4 years ago | (#33493876)

Weasel words work if correct. If you are the one and only one person that thinks Jeb Bush is really a Martian, and you announce "Jeb is allegedly a Martian" with no other sources, then you, in fact, called him a Martian. If you say, "I believe that Jeb appears to be of Martian heritage." Then you likely weaseled your way into giving a non-professional opinion on the matter, which is mostly protected (baring things like actual malice). If someone else told you he was definitely a Martian, then "Jeb is allegedly a Martian" should not be actionable. The truth is that someone else did allege that. You spoke no untruth, even if what the other person told you was, in fact, untrue.

Further, I'd take a comment of "assuming Jeb is a Martian, then he'd have a serious pro-binary star system bias, and we shouldn't elect him." If the pro-binary bias is incorrect and damaging, then it could be actionable. The introductory statement isn't a statement of fact, but an assumption. It can be excluded and look at the factual portion of the claim. To break it out and reverse it, say pro-binary bias is a bad thing and damaging enough to be actionable. "Martians have a pro-binary bias." If untrue, Martians everywhere could sue you. Though, to do so, they would have to stipulate that they are Martians. If you then follow that up with "I think Jeb is a Martian." Then you are still safe. You've implied his untrue pro-binary bias, but not stated it as a fact. If you then say "Therefore, Jeb has a pro-binary bias" then you are stating a false defamatory statement. "If we assume Jeb is a serial rapist, then he must like milk" should not be actionable. There was no statement of fact that is defamatory. So the complaint that I somehow implied Jeb to be a serial rapist is untrue, and the person complaining could be the one that is committing libel.

Ever answer the phone at election time? I get "polls" where the questions are of the nature of, "Would it change your opinion about Jeb to know that he rapes small girls and then sells the videotapes to the North Koreans?" After all, they don't actually say he does, they are just asking your opinion about whether you would change your opinion if something like that particular untrue statement were to be true.

Oh, and for the exercise, assume that being Martian is plausible. As to be defamatory, it must be damaging and believable (and, at least in the US to be actionable, false).

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33492712)

"... your subjective opinion ..."

"Opinion" is the key. For the time being, Americans are allowed to voice their opinion.

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (1)

mdmkolbe (944892) | about 4 years ago | (#33492752)

The words "I'm assuming" change the sentence from a potentially libelous statement about Commodore USA to a factual statement about the author's opinions and thus make the statement not libel (at least in the USA).

He never claimed they were a hoax. He claimed he is assuming they are a hoax. Under US law, "I believe they are a hoax" is not libel even when "They are a hoax" is.

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (1)

azior (1302509) | about 4 years ago | (#33492810)

You quote the article but apparently still haven't read it. I sure hope you won't sue me for saying your comment is stupid.

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (1)

mounthood (993037) | about 4 years ago | (#33492920)

If you're going to claim someone's business is somewhere between a hoax and a con, you'd better have something better than supposition based off a legal settlement and your subjective opinion of the company's website.

I am a Nigerian Prince who needs your help.... Now I know what your thinking, but you'd better not say it because that would be libelous.

See how that works? Do you think people shouldn't be able to call a scam, a scam?

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (1)

cgenman (325138) | about 4 years ago | (#33494526)

On less straightforward fronts, The Phantom console [wikipedia.org] was an outright scam and The Gizmondo [wikipedia.org] was a way of laundering money. Both of these smelled incredibly fishy to tech journalists. And a properly informing press would tell their clients that neither of these developers seemed on the up-and-up. For the first year or two the press gave The Phantom a mostly free pass, allowing investors to be suckered into pouring money into an organization that didn't seem to be producing anything other than doctored screenshots. Eventually the press started drawing conclusions and doing actual reporting. And, lo and behold, there wasn't any "there" there.

Gizmondo's failed initial launch and failed re-launch were so short lived, that nobody reported about the console's strange development and unlikelyhood of surviving in the marketplace until after a rather spectacular flare up.

Either way, call a spade a spade. The worldwide Amiga people claim that Commodore USA has no such rights. Commodore USA doesn't appear to have actually shipped any of the products it offers and sells. Oh, and their "legal department" has now been confirmed to be one non-lawyer copying and pasting takedown notices incorrectly. It probably is a con.

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | about 4 years ago | (#33493090)

Statements of opinion are not libel; to qualify as such, they must be malicious, knowingly false statements of "fact."

"SuperBanana is a child molester" can be libel. "I think SuperBanana is a child molester because I saw him talking to some kids on a playground" is not. (Unless of course you never did any such thing -- then it's an entirely different ballgame.)

So far as I'm concerned, "Unless proven otherwise, I'm assuming for now" is sufficiently opinion to qualify for protection, particularly when he gives his reasoning for such an opinion. It's hard to suggest that he knows what he's saying is false and that he is saying it out of malice if he gives (moderately) reasonable explanations for why he believes it. He may ultimately be right or wrong, but that is far from the determining factor in whether or not something is libel, at least in the United States.

But honestly, the funny part to me is how blatantly he copied the letter. Do you see the the state that the recipient and the law firm are from in the original? Care to guess what the "G" in O.C.G.A is? (Hint: Official Code of ___ Annotated.) Care to guess where neither entity is based? Yes, that's right: Georgia. Hilarious. Personally I hope Barry Altman gets his ass sued for copyright infringement just because he's a little twat appropriating other peoples' work and legal expertise and doing so in such a hilariously amateurish manner, but I suppose that's just me.

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (1)

moortak (1273582) | about 4 years ago | (#33493892)

In the case of child molester you would probably not be okay. It might very well fall under libel per se.

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33494662)

he's a little twat appropriating other peoples' work

This is libel. Ohh, wait, no it isn't. Well, at least the part about "appropriating" is not.

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33493140)

OSNews _ONLY_ gets attention when they troll. It's the only reason they're still around, they're the Glenn Beck of the online tech community.

Unfortunately now that's come back and bit them in the ass, good. They've been running their mouths for too long without consequence, I hope they get sued into bankruptcy.

Re:sounds pretty libelous to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33494524)

OSNews = Oh, snooze.

'OCGA' (4, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 4 years ago | (#33492718)

Official Code of Georgia Annotated, in case you were wondering.

Re:'OCGA' (1)

Timex (11710) | about 4 years ago | (#33493134)

What does that have to do with anything? Is Commodore USA based in Georgia? Why would the "official code of Georgia" apply? (I'm not criticizing you, just wondering stuff without going to read TFA or do any background checking on Commodore USA....)

Re:'OCGA' (1)

socsoc (1116769) | about 4 years ago | (#33493368)

Well then RTFA, it doesn't. The presence of OCGA gives support to the idea that this guy just copy and pasted it.

Re:'OCGA' (1)

Timex (11710) | about 4 years ago | (#33494760)

Well then RTFA, it doesn't.

I was on a mobile device at the time and download times are a mess on it, that's why I didn't. Had I been on a PC, I would have chased the link. ;)

The presence of OCGA gives support to the idea that this guy just copy and pasted it.

It also lends credence to the hypothesis that the person/people that sent the message from Commodore USA are complete and utter dolts. If they aren't going to read (and re-read) documents they are sending out that might carry any legal weight, then they certainly shouldn't be trusted with anything that is going to be court-bound. One simple oversight could make or break a case before the judge.

Re:'OCGA' (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 4 years ago | (#33493632)

What does that have to do with anything? Is Commodore USA based in Georgia? Why would the "official code of Georgia" apply? (I'm not criticizing you, just wondering stuff without going to read TFA or do any background checking on Commodore USA....)

The letter the Commodore CEO copied had been sent to a company based in Atlanta - so leaving the "OCGA references in there 1) was just stupid; and 2) basically showed the CEO had no idea what the letter actually meant.

FWIW I agree with your fundamental point - these Slashdot submissions should actually spell out what the non-obvious acronyms stand for because 1) the reader shouldn't have to follow several links just to find out about some tangential info, and 2) then the submitters would learn something (I suspect the submitter here had no real idea about this story other than the generic Slashdot "takedown notice = bad" meme).

Re:'OCGA' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33493596)

... As in the Republic of Georga ... not the State of Georgia.

Big difference.

Who owns the amiga rights now? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 4 years ago | (#33493176)

Who owns the amiga rights now?

The announcement say people are makeing a case over that as well?

Is that the next step you can use a Takedown Notice for stuff that you don't even have to rights to but just have a clam to the rights?

Re:Who owns the amiga rights now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33493764)

Rights to the trademark, Amiga Inc., USA

Rights to the OS Hyperion in Holland

Things aren't much different @ 20th Century-Fox... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33493638)

When Josh was preparing for "Firefly" movie, "Serenity", for the future 'Browncoats', I quietly posted every episode the series had shown (secured in such a manor that they could not be 'lifted' from the server), prior to the release of the DVD set. The day the DVD set came out, I pulled every episode off the site.

Also posted, in the same area, were every episode of the first season of "Jericho" (For New Zealand friends whom couldn't watch them on www.cbs.com, which were pulled as soon as their DVD was released), as well as the pilot episode of "Max Headroom" and the unaired pilot of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

The only 'Takedown Notice' I ever received was for the "Buffy" episode.

Go figure...

can't copyright a legal document (1)

ormico (1226940) | about 4 years ago | (#33493710)

it is my understanding that you cannot copyright a legal document (in the USA).

Stolen Picture Too? (4, Informative)

StarWreck (695075) | about 4 years ago | (#33493750)

The top CGI picture of an Amiga with a CD-ROM, at http://www.commodoreusa.net/products.html [commodoreusa.net] , I recognize from an Amiga forum from at least 3 years ago. It was made by a forum user, not any employee of Amiga or related company.

Re:Stolen Picture Too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33494024)

It doesn't stop there. Here's a thread on how the site rips ad copy from Apple.
http://www.amiga.org/forums/showthread.php?t=52985&page=6 [amiga.org]

Re:Stolen Picture Too? (3, Informative)

prowler1 (458133) | about 4 years ago | (#33494086)

Are you referring to the Amiga Fantasy pictures, located at http://aminet.net/pix/trace/AMIGA-fantasy1.jpg http://aminet.net/pix/trace/AMIGA-fantasy2.jpg and http://aminet.net/pix/trace/AMIGA-fantasyB.jpg which were uploaded back in 1999 to http://aminet.net ?

Re:Stolen Picture Too? (2, Insightful)

StarWreck (695075) | about 4 years ago | (#33494192)

dang, 1999? I suddenly feel so old.

Re:Stolen Picture Too? (3, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | about 4 years ago | (#33494606)

That's extremely damning. For those following along at home, this [commodoreusa.net] is the image up on Commodore USA's website, and this [aminet.net] is the original image from ten years ago. The difference? The image up on Commodore USA's website has a bad photoshop hack job of removing the word "fantasy" from the top right of the keyboard, and the word fantasy from the mouse cord (and the cord itself). It still attributes the image to Marko Hirv.

I don't think there can be more irrefutable proof that this is a scam.

Re:Stolen Picture Too? (1)

oobayly (1056050) | about 4 years ago | (#33495348)

I'm especially liking the fact that they forgot to photoshop out the mouse cable going into the back of the system, it's rendered with a CRT (a pretty small one at that) and the disk in the tray is a CDR. They really are going for the retro look & feel.

Re:Stolen Picture Too? (2, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 4 years ago | (#33495442)

Marko Hirv probably has sufficient evidence to sue Commodore USA for copyright infringement on this image.

I don't quite know US laws, but under Dutch laws (which, AFAIK, are pretty much similar to most of the western world), Marko Hirv could probably also sue Commodore USA for altering his artistic vision.

Actually, mr. Hirv would probably be wise to accept a financial settlement, but a lawsuit would be funnier for the rest of us.

Commodore USA already seen on Slashdot... (5, Informative)

SheeEttin (899897) | about 4 years ago | (#33495200)

When I clicked the link to TFA, I thought I recognized some of those pictures...
Sure enough, from back in March: Commodore 64 Primed For a Comeback In June [slashdot.org] .

Basically, this is a Chinese knockoff company selling PCs built into the keyboard and/or monitor (from modern hardware) with a Commodore logo slapped on.

Geography Lesson (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 4 years ago | (#33495492)

Commodore must think that they're in England.
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