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AMD NDA Scandal

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the all-your-words-are-belong dept.

AMD 187

crazyeyes writes "Just two weeks ago, a Thai journalist walked out of the hush-hush AMD event in Singapore over a controversial NDA that required him to 'send any stories to the vendor before his newspaper can publish it.' AMD categorically denied it happened, but today, we not only have proof that it happened, we also have the sordid details of the entire affair. Here's a quote from the editorial: 'First off, the non-disclosure agreement covered everything confidential said or written over the next two years on the product, and had a duration of five years, during which anything published or used in marketing would have to receive written approval from AMD before it could be used. Worse, at the end of the five years, all copies of the information made would have to be returned to the chipmaker.'"

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187 comments

Foot, meet bullet (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529371)

AMD, make better, cooler chips and open your specs or write open source drivers.

Re:Foot, meet bullet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529601)

I hear Caldera is coming out with OpenDos

Wrists of AMD CEO,employees, etc, Meet Razor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529811)

Then slit them. That is what the fucktards at Awful Macro Device$ should fucking do as they have tried to totally fuck up the open source movement and they have been butt-fucking Micro$haft while Intel is open-source friendly. INTEL FTW!!! AWFUL MACRO DEVICE$/MICRO$HAFT SHOULD FUCKING LOSE AND ALL OF THE FUCKTARDS AT EITHER BUSINESS SHOULD END THEIR FUCKING LIVES!

Re:Wrists of AMD CEO,employees, etc, Meet Razor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20530287)

Wow, this must be a new low for you Twitter, now telling people to commit suicide. How much lower will you go Twitter? Will you go out and actually shoot those that work at Microsoft? Shoot people who use Windows? Twitter, you have become such a nutcase no wonder your whole account was modded down into oblivion. Keep creating new accounts and every one of them will eventually be modded into oblivion like your twitter account.

Who Cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529373)

What scandal? This is the first I've heard of this so-called "scandal", and it just doesn't seem like a big deal to me. One side said this, the other side said that. What's the news value here? That corporations are big, bad meanies? That's a given.

If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it... (-1, Troll)

truth_revealed (593493) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529395)

then what's he bitching about?

Think of the children!

(Why is this story interesting in the least?)

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529449)

But he didn't sign it - "a Thai journalist walked out ... over a controversial NDA"

The story is interesting because AMD is stupid enough to think it should be able to get away with this bullshit.

This is Slashdot. "[Big tech corp] acts like an asshole" is standard fare here.

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529583)

How is this even acting like an ass? AMD is under no obligation to allow journalists on the factory floor to begin with. If they have things in there that they don't want others (read: Intel) to know about, an NDA is a practical necessity. Since the only possible benefit to them for doing something like this is in marketing value, so they made the NDA do a little extra work. Who gives a shit.

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529703)

Who gives a shit.

The journalist did and frankly, so do I. Sure, AMD can refuse to show the journalist anything at all but that is still better than reading an article from a seemingly independent journalist who was effectively made a puppet of AMD through an overreaching NDA. An NDA can be okay but this one is excessive since it compromises the journalist's independence.

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530163)

The journalist just had to refuse the NDA.

This is akin to bitching about a beta testing games NDA and then still continue in the beta.

If you don't like the terms of the deal, then don't go through with it.

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (1)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530463)

As the end of TFA explains, this is a way to ensure that anything written about the chip will either be favorable or devoid of detail. It's an attempt to manipulate the reviews, which is dirty pool and bad for consumers. Even if they have the right to, it's nasty behavior.

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529623)

AMD is stupid enough to think it should be able to get away with this bullshit.

AMD might be able to get away with it in Singapore? I wonder if Singaporean journalists just get used to the censorship that their (benign and efficient, but totally authoritarian) government imposes on them. I mean, after you've been self-censoring for the government for your whole career, what's the big deal if some other power-that-be start making similar demands?

Of course, there are groups -- particularly among journalists, actually -- who want more freedom of speech. But the devil's advocate inside me has to ask: If Singapore has done so well under the current government, then why mess with success? I mean, hell, CNN has "free speech" and what does it buy Americans? Maybe we need a benevolent autocracy of technocrats too.

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (1, Troll)

Zarluk (976365) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530337)

Maybe we need a benevolent autocracy of technocrats too.

Perhaps with a chimp leading them, no?

Or, quoting an old arab saying: "beware of what you wish, because you might get it!"

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (3, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530053)

First, I don't see anything in the article that shows they have anything new that would allow them to confirm anything. All they've done is repeated the same story that AMD is using a rabid NDA. But let us go ahead and assume that such a thing exists. AMD decided to let this guy (and others) attend the conference, and even went so far as to pay for the trip. When they decide to take a tour of a manufacturing facility they want an NDA that includes:

"any confidential information from this visit would need written approval from corporate communications before it could be used".


While the article goes on to imply that that statement is the equivalent of agreeing to let AMD rape the reporter's baby, I just don't see it. They are bringing these guys into a private building where trade secrets are in use and don't want it all published in some article or blog.

I fail to see the egregiousness here. What's more I don't see how anyone with even half a brain would see anything wrong here. Please explain what exactly AMD is trying to "get away" with?

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530435)

They are bringing these guys into a private building where trade secrets are in use and don't want it all published in some article or blog.


It's AMD's responsibility to keep trade secrets secret. If they don't want a trade secret or confidential material to be reported, don't show it to a bunch of reporters.

Asking reporters to sign NDAs that require ANY "approval" of what is to be published is completely contrary to the entire basis under which the free press operates.

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530157)

If any company has to go through lengths like this is bad. Usually a sign they don't want anyone to know they are gonna tank.

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529643)

your right in your assumption of interest on the story that it not.

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529645)

Yeah, I agree with you. Sure, the NDA requiring someone to have his story double checked is stupid and the reporter was right to refuse to sign it. Sure, AMD is truly dumb for trying to deny it. They should have just come forward. What I don't understand is why the censorship tag? AFAIK, companies are free to keep secrets and share them with anyone agreeing to their term. Calling this a censorship cheapen the word much like the words peace, terrorists, racism and so on have been cheapened.

The big deal in this IMHO is the fact that AMD denied it, not the NDA itself. And as far as the denial goes, this hardly worth mentioning as a news.

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (5, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529651)

The journalist in question did not sign the aforementioned NDA. He was expressing his disappointment in the other journalists who did sign the agreement, either out of ignorance or apathy. He's also broadcasting the fact that the so called "independent media" of blogs and citizen journalists may not be as independent as it seems, thanks to agreements like this.

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530177)

Independent media has always been an oxymoron. End of the day someone pays for the cheese.

Re:If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it. (3, Informative)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530355)

If the journalist was stupid enough to sign it.


I know lots of folks don't read the stories, but you could at least try to make it NINE WORDS into the summary before responding! The FIRST SENTENCE of the post was not exactly an SAT-level reading comprehension test.

AMD is the new MS? (1, Interesting)

evil_aar0n (1001515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529407)

I didn't think AMD had reached a level where they could pull MS or Intel-type crap like this. Or are they getting too big for their britches?

Re:AMD is the new MS? (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529679)

I think AMD is getting desparate. Intel's Core and Core 2 line of chips have both been better performers than the equivalent AMD parts, and AMD doesn't want to be relegated to its old position of having to compete on price. I think this was AMD's attempt to generate some positive "buzz" around the company to create interest for current and potential shareholders. Something of a "Guys, we really are doing work and not screwing around with your money," sort of thing.

Re:AMD is the new MS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529831)

AMD isn't a government. Once you buy their product and money changes hands, they don't owe you shit. They can spend it all on cocaine and hookers if they want to.

Re:AMD is the new MS? (1)

Daedone (981031) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530375)

*shareholders*, not customers. if you were an AMD shareholder, i would think you would damn well care if your 25K in stock just went up an executive's nose

Acting more like Apple (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20530031)

This is the kind of crap apple pulls and their fanboys defend.

Re:AMD is the new MS? (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530407)

Dunno about M$, but Intel does it all the time.

And if you want to develop for their platforms - you have to sign them. And you see content of NDA only after you sign it... Not like you have a choice. (*) Business as usual.

(*) That's actually, many manufacturers had run to AMD as soon as it had decent chips (Opterons) in productions. Few like Intel's methods of handling partners.

another example (0)

SuperDre (982372) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529429)

Yet another example of people thinking they are right and not the other.. the journalist didn't [i]walk out[/i] because he didn't even go on the trip, because you had to sign the NDA [b]BEFORE[/b] you go to the event.. It's AMD's own right to have such a strickt NDA, if you do not agree with it then you just don't go there, it's that simple..Now the journalist makes a big fuss about the NDA as if it's really something special, which ofcourse is nothing more than yelling for attention, which he clearly got since there's mentioning here on slashdot.. As far as I can tell, if he really did walk out while he was there, then it's still his own doing not AMD's because he knew about the NDA BEFORE he went there. So he's definitly no 'hero' as some articles writes are making out of him.. What's wrong with moral these days, people not wanting to 'obey' other people's whishes..

Re:another example (5, Informative)

djmurdoch (306849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529481)

He refused to sign, AMD relented, and then on Day 2 of the visit he was asked again to sign, and refused. That's what TFA says.

Conclusion?

AMD sucks, the reporter is a hero, and you can't read (or spell).

Re:another example (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529717)

You forgot to make fun of him for trying to use bbcode on Slashdot.

Re:another example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20530019)

[b]LOL![/b]

Re:another example (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529797)

I suspect that it was probably a different NDA. It is fairly common to be asked to sign a standard NDA before touring a manufacturing facility.

Re:another example (2, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529807)

AMD sucks, the reporter is a hero, and you can't read (or spell).

Right. The guy accepted a vacation package paid for by AMD, showed up at a fluff PR event in Singapore, then went home without any story at all. What a hero. He better buy a second phone right away, or else the New York Times hiring office might not be able to get through the busy signal.

Re:another example (1)

xigxag (167441) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529963)

So on day 2 they threatened him and his family if he didn't sign the NDA? And they shackled him to a rusty pipe and hooked electrodes up to his eyeballs, but he escaped by chewing off his own head? After swimming through molten sewage to freedom, he took time to defuse the nuclear bomb AMD had secreted under Raffles Place, to report a jaywalker to the authorities, and to rescue a puppy dog from a burning building? Wait, none of that happened...they asked him to sign an NDA, which is their right, and he declined and departed, which is his right. Where does the heroism come into play?

I don't even see why "AMD sucks." They could've just released no information at all, but decided it would be advantageous to release info under extremely restrictive terms. Obviously this guy didn't like the terms, but big deal. Am I a hero for not buying a Lamborghini because I don't like the terms? Cool.

Re:another example (-1, Troll)

hackus (159037) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529509)

"It's AMD's own right to have such a strickt NDA, if you do not agree with it then you just don't go there, it's that simple."

I am sorry. But in a free society corporate fascism is not permissable.

You are also forgetting the NDA is excluding basic human rights organized by the constitution, one of which is the freedom of the press.

Since when does a corporate entity have the right to abridge/amend the constitution?

These companies are out of control claiming they have any and all rights that exceed anything so long as you sign on the dotted line.

This is NOT legal, and they cannot enforce this in a court of law.
(Correction, they cannot enforce it in a court that hasn't been bought off.)

-Hack

Re:another example (5, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529573)

WTF, your rights by the Constitution are restrictions on government, not on private entities. You can sign all your rights away except your life or liberty (slavery for instance).

It is very very common for secrets to be shared with an NDA. And no just because you are a journalist doesn't give you the "right" to share these secrets when you signed an NDA. This journalist decided not to sign, AMD decided not to share its secrets. End of story.

Re:another example (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529615)

So by your logic, all NDAs are invalid since they restrict a person's right to free speech? Get real here.

Re:another example (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529721)

There's a difference between NDAs on employees (and possibly some other people who have a special relationship with the company, e.g. contractors and some types of beta testers) and those outside those groups. NDAs on the latter serve no valid purpose - permitting companies to control people whose job it is to be independent media (that is, not PR films hired by the company) is not in the interest of society and in fact quite harmful to it. The deception ("that's just paperwork") and lies (that denied the event) make it worse. That's why people are upset.

Re:another example (1)

GPL Apostate (1138631) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529781)

Well, there's sort of a difference. The difference is that the employees are 'inside the group.' Just as a signer of this NDA is 'inside the group.' Same difference. This guy is just howling because he intends to remain an independent journalist. What AMD is doing is not wrong, but he's in the right to point out loudly that they're doing it, to help identify any other journalists who sign the NDA.

The only parties acting 'unethically' are any other journalists who sign the NDA. And AMD is a shade grayer for asking them to sign it. But they're still just a business like they were yesterday, and NDAs are part of business.

Back to school for you! (5, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529655)

You are also forgetting the NDA is excluding basic human rights organized by the constitution, one of which is the freedom of the press.

Did you sleep all the way through your civics classes? "Freedom of the press" refers to prohibitions by the U.S. Federal government concerning what journalists can publish. Private entities are "free" to restrict how their own confidential information is dispersed.

You really need to get out more often.

Re:Back to school for you! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20530263)

Haven't you heard? In free societies you can say whatever you want.

Re:Back to school for you! (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530311)

You're making a civics error at least as bad as the grandparent. "Freedom of the press" is not a U.S.-only principle, nor is it necessarily about governments and not corporations. If you had said that "the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution" was only a restriction on the U.S. Federal government (specifically laws passed by Congress), then you would be correct. But frankly that's splitting hairs beside the larger issue of whether a truly free press is necessary to keep a functioning democracy.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights indicates: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers".

No government-vs-corporation distinction, no U.S.-only limitation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_the_press [wikipedia.org]

Re:another example (2, Insightful)

sabinm (447146) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529803)

I'm going to reply to you and to the ones below you who don't think this is a freedom of speech issue because the federal government isn't doing it.

Just like a person can be sued for wrongful imprisonment, another person can be sued for slander, individuals can sue private entities who infringe on their rights. They may (or may not) be able to make a federal case out of it, but that doesn't mean there aren't protections against these things. Governments (ideally) do two things: protect me from you, and protect me from themselves.

Now, lets get on with this journalist's problem. His problem wasn't with the NDA in itself. The problem that any work that he produced that mentioned the Barcelona product line had to be approved by AMD itself, and at the end of five years, all of his own work that was related to Barcelona had to be returned to AMD. If you don't see how that's objectionable, you deserve to be deceived. That little part gives AMD the right to edit and refuse any report on the Barcelona line. Barcelona chips are just two Athlon XPs duct-taped together? Guess what. If you signed that NDA, AMD has the right to control that information. Barcelona chips are hot enough to roast a full pig? Sorry, you signed the NDA and we have the right to review your work for inaccuracies. So this is an issue of freedom of the press. Not freedom from the tyranny of the government, but freedom from the tyranny of those who would bind us by legal contracts, ignoring social contract that they diminish by continuing to think that their corporate identities supersede the rights guaranteed to all humans by virtue of being born.

AMD needs to let the journalists print what they print and let their chips stand on their own merits. Anything less than that and you have to consider that what AMD spews out aren't facts about their product, but carefully crafted advertisements.

Re:another example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529979)

No, you are mistaken. Firstly, the agreement is between AMD and a person, not a journalist (that is, he is still covered by the NDA even he stops being a journalist), and thus there is no question regarding freedom of press. Secondly, all that the agreement says is that from the time X signs this agreement, X is to treat anything about Barcelona as confidential (yes, even what is otherwise in the public domain -- an NDA places restrictions to one, not everybody, and that is why what the NDA asks for is legit).

Re:another example (2, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530153)

You are also forgetting the NDA is excluding basic human rights organized by the constitution, one of which is the freedom of the press.
NO.

The bill of rights is limits on what the government can do unilaterally through force of law. Those are your constitutional rights, and you may suspend them as you see fit, especially if it gets you some benefit. (For example, if you've ever gotten a DMV ticket, you probably waived your right to a trial by jury to get it over with faster.)

An NDA is a perfectly acceptable contract -- you agree not to tell, and I agree to tell you something I wouldn't otherwise. You could even argue that the NDA is part of your first amendment right of freedom to associate.

This is NOT legal, and they cannot enforce this in a court of law.
Yes, they can. Go to your local community college and take a basic business law class. You're woefully underinformed as to what the law will and won't do, who the Constitution applies to, and apparently even the basic understanding of what the Bill of Rights says.

("Congress shall make no law..." can be stretched to apply to the various legislatures of the states fairly well. Hoewver, we do NOT want any legal precdent at all eqauting "business" with "congress" in any way. I don't want Microsoft to have even the slightest chance of being able to declare war.)

Re:another example (3, Funny)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529569)

You definitely get a plus for reaching -1 insightful

Re:another example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529603)

Someone had modded him Insightful, then I modded him Overrated. I was surprised the Insightful stuck when he dropped to -1.

Re:another example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20530167)

That's how Overrated and Underrated work. (also allows for things like +5 Troll)

A whole new low (1, Interesting)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529443)

This is a whole new low for AMD, an overt lie and being caught at it. I am really disappointed. I would have expected better from a company that previously worked so well with open source and the media.

Re:A whole new low (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530193)

This is a whole new low for AMD, an overt lie and being caught at it. I am really disappointed. I would have expected better from a company that previously worked so well with open source and the media.

But... did it really work well or this is controlled PR? Looks like you didn't even entertain the possibility. Job well done, AMD!

It's just overzealous NDA agreement. You sign it, you agreed to it, you didn't sign it, you can write AMD sucks and AMD won't say anything.

Intel is far more insidious controlling and manipulating the market so it doesn't ever dare go AMD, by signing anticompetitive agreements, undercutting prices with strategic pc vendors and so on.

They'll play those games whether we see it or not, there's far more we don't know that they do this way, I guess what matters is at least they are still both on the market of selling x86/64 chips. If one of them goes down, the current situation will seem like a child's play to you.

Clarification: I prefer Intel processors and motherboards.

Re:A whole new low (1)

JasonEngel (757582) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530269)

This is why, after 5 years as an AMD user, I have switched back to Intel chips for my two most recent computers.

Re:A whole new low (2, Insightful)

RenderSeven (938535) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530467)

This is why, after 5 years as an AMD user, I have switched back to Intel chips for my two most recent computers.
You changed processors because you didnt like their NDA? You're an idiot. And profoundly psychic since you apparently switched before this happened.

News? (3, Insightful)

band-aid-brand (1068196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529453)

All I got from the article was that someone is impatient about getting some benchmarks and that a Thai Journalist MIGHT have walked out because of a NDA which may or may not exist... exciting...

Re:News? (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530077)

No kidding. Ten paragraphs to state they that can report that a report was made about an NDA. No new information like a copy of the NDA. Nothing at all. Just to say that somebody said something.

AMD more evil than once we thought? (0, Flamebait)

etinin (1144011) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529455)

It seems that the recent open-source commitment of AMD doesn't show that it's a not-so-much-evil company (no capitalist company can be good IMO) Guess AMD is getting the hang of this business... By the way, has Intel ever done something as stupid as this?

Re:AMD more evil than once we thought? (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529507)

No of course not, intel has never done anything as stupid as getting caught.

This company should be wiped out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529457)

Utter scumbags. It's rather satisfying that Intel is creaming them.

You talk like Intel wouldn't do the same (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529989)

Everyone wants the press writes only flattering stuff about them.
NDA is normal, walking away before signing an NDA is also normal.
Wtf is so scandalous here?

Re:You talk like Intel wouldn't do the same (1)

etinin (1144011) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530115)

Intel WOULD do the same, but did they ever let such public scandal happen with them?

Seems to be a non-issue... (4, Informative)

Reemi (142518) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529477)

unfortunately, there is not verbatim copy of the NDA, only a section that seems to paraphrase.

It is not unusual to have a NDA covering a longer period so one does not have to sign it each and every occasion. Then, even according to the text such a NDA is only applicable for confidential information. That means, everything posted in the Bankok Post would not be confidential anymore ;-)

How much control can AMD have over the articles to be published? Not much probably as long as no confidential information is there. But we'd need to see the original text.

Btw, why not link to the article of the journalist involved:
http://www.bangkokpost.com/Database/05Sep2007_data 006.php [bangkokpost.com]

bad policy (2, Insightful)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529479)

Sometimes bad policy like this is made by ignorant management and not with the intention to screen bad press. Not saying that that is the case here, but the person(s) involved in writing the NDA could very well have been working under the requirement to safeguard information about new amd products until the products are released. Sometimes the paranoid "they're controlling the press" mentality is solely the product of tin foil hats. :)

Wrong Scandal (5, Insightful)

sjvn (11568) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529503)

As a journalist, we're always being asked to sign BS NDAs. Most of us refuse to sign ones far milder than this idiotic one. After all, in the end we always find our what the big secret is anyway. If you're not good at being snoopy, what are you doing as a reporter anyway?

The Real scandal is described here:

All of those invited to the event were given an NDA to sign before going on that 5-star, all-expense-paid trip to Singapore. Hidden in that piece of legal boilerplate were some sneaky clauses. Yeah, don't we just love those clauses. This is what Don found in that NDA:

Excuse me? If I went on any "5-star, all-expense paid trip to Singapore" at a vendor's expense I'm going to be--and I would deserve to be--fired in less time than it took me to write this note.

Steven

Re:Wrong Scandal (5, Informative)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529713)

When I was a tech journalist, by standard procedure was to read the NDAs and cross out the most egregious clauses, sign it and return. If I was feeling particularly charitable, I would point out the parts that I had deleted. Their an agreement. You are within your rights to amend before signing.

Re:Wrong Scandal (4, Funny)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530237)

You can see why I am no-longer a journalist. I can't even get the distinction between 'their' and 'they're' correct. Excuse me why I go and beat myself about the head with a large Chambers 20th Century dictionary.

Re:Wrong Scandal (4, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529725)

Excuse me? If I went on any "5-star, all-expense paid trip to Singapore" at a vendor's expense I'm going to be--and I would deserve to be--fired in less time than it took me to write this note.

Hear, hear. I've worked for a couple of different publications in the trade press and we were generally only allowed to accept gifts from vendors totaling in the realm of about $20. Attending an industry meet-n-greet held at a fancy restaurant was often enough to set fingers wagging.

Re:Wrong Scandal (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529777)

The accepted norms tend to be different in different countries. U.S tech journals often have a strict no-freebies policy. In the UK, and other countries where budgets are tighter, freebies often are accepted. The UK journalists I know who do accept freebies would be adamant that they only accept ones that have true editorial interest and would also argue that it doesn't influence their writing. For the average staff writer that's probably correct - they don't know, or care who is paying for the flight.

Re:Wrong Scandal (2, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529867)

In the UK, and other countries where budgets are tighter, freebies often are accepted. The UK journalists I know who do accept freebies would be adamant that they only accept ones that have true editorial interest and would also argue that it doesn't influence their writing. For the average staff writer that's probably correct - they don't know, or care who is paying for the flight.

In the latter case then that seems fair enough, provided the editor who accepted the package isn't going to put pressure on the writer to spin the story a certain way. I'd argue that the U.S. system is superior, though. I think you would be surprised what a lot of reporters in the U.S. actually earn, based on your comment about budgets, but they're encouraged to pay for their own hamburgers anyway.

Then again, if you're really broke, but your profession is such that people are always dangling freebies in your face, that encourages corruption. If your company has a policy that you can accept gifts "as long as it doesn't influence your work," then in a sense I suppose that can help let off some of the pressure of temptation. I can see it both ways.

Re:Wrong Scandal (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530221)

I've worked in the U.K system, and I agree that a no-freebies system must always be better. However in my experience, the freebies don't influence editorial line, however they clearly may bias the likelihood of coverage. In a system where the magazine pays all the bills, they are going to pick and choose carefully between potential trips. Offering a free trip to meet interesting, influential execs is obviously going to increase the chances of some kind of coverage. It's a brave hack who writes up nothing after being away from the office for a week, even if the information was thin.

On the other hand, there can often be a fierceness about journos who have accepted a free trip. UK tech journos often view their U.S counterparts as softies and the U.K. guys revel in their cynicism (we all want to be Jeremy Paxman). I suspect this fierceness can be stoked by the knowledge that a freebie was accepted

Re:Wrong Scandal (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529785)

You've been asked to sign a contract that gives your subject editorial veto rights? Can you name three other companies who have tried that?

Doesn't bode well (0, Offtopic)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529515)

This does not bode well for our chances to get either Open Source drivers or complete specs for ATI chipsets. Sigh.

already happened to adequacy.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529517)

will AMD stop at nothing to prevent the free press? its worse than the soviet union.

So what (2, Insightful)

Oddster (628633) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529529)

Let's get this straight: AMD is a company working for profit. They are at least afforded the right to decide what kind of information about unreleased products will be made available to the market. If information (or, heaven forbid, disinformation by the media!) is released that was not part of AMD's market strategy, product strategy, or competitive strategy, it could severely damage their business.

For example, if AMD was targeting 32 TB/s of memory bandwith at 2ms latencies for their year 2 target, that would be quite a sensitive strategy. Make Intel, or any number of small semiconductor companies, aware of this, and there is a strong possibility that instead of joining AMD, they'll fight, and damage AMD's market position.

If a company wants a reporter to sign an NDA, the reporter can sign it, or the reporter can refuse to - it's not like AMD goombas twisted their arm to sign it. Bravo on not being a corporate pawn, but that's where it stops.

Re:So what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529709)

They certainly have the right to force attendees to sign an over the top NDA.

And he has the right to moan about it.

Re:So what (3, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529765)

You, sir, are dumber than a retard's nutsack. The issue isn't the NDA, it's that AMD are claiming de facto editorial rights over the publications. They're not stifling all information; you will see articles, but the only ones you'll be allowed to see are positive ones. Do you get that? Once you agree to this NDA, if it turns out that the product sucks, then you're not allowed to print that it sucks, and you're not even allowed to print that you're not allowed to print that it sucks. If you don't want an empty front page, then you have to print "OMFG AMD is teh roxorzz!!!111!". Is that clear enough for you yet?

Re:So what (1)

GISGEOLOGYGEEK (708023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529945)

Who's the dirty nutsack?

If no one agreed to the NDA, then AMD would get no press (except for press about the NDA like today, and any press is good press, it made you think about AMD), and would have to loosen their NDA a bit.

The problem is that chances are someone agreed to the NDA, shooting their publication in the foot and empowering AMD.

Really this is no different then the arguement over pirating music. If you don't like the agreement, don't use the music in any way, not even pirating it, the music then looses the value you have given it by being willing to steal it, then the industry has to loosen up or far fewer people are listening to their product.

Kind of funny how many people are supporting AMD on the NDA issue, when so many of them would post on pirating topics with the opposite point of view.

Re:So what (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530241)

It's pretty easy to get around this kind of thing. You sign then NDA and go. If the product sucks then you get someone who didn't sign the NDA to write an article explaining that you're not going to be publishing anything because the product sucked and the NDA says you're not allowed to tell them what sucked about it. Send both to AMD, and ask which they'd rather you publish.

The most telling review ever (1)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530197)

If the article had the headline: "Our official AMD Review"

and then had four blank pages.

Re:So what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20529801)

Well, this is slashdot and I'm an AC (i.e. so of course I haven't RTFA), but the summary says that AMD "categorically denied" the existence of the NDA (or at least the existence of that clause) and now it turns out they were lying.

I know this is hardly the first time a corporation has been caught lying, but that doesn't mean we should expect and accept such behavior.

Re:So what (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530013)

For example, if AMD was targeting 32 TB/s of memory bandwith at 2ms latencies for their year 2 target, that would be quite a sensitive strategy.

If it's a sensitive goal, and they don't want Intel to know about it, then WTF are they telling journalists about it for?

(Really I should put "journalists" in quotes because, IMO, if an article about product X has been approved by X's company, IMO it ceases to be journalism and becomes a press release, but whatever.)

Re:So what (1)

WombatDeath (681651) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530283)

"For example, if AMD was targeting 32 TB/s of memory bandwith at 2ms latencies for their year 2 target, that would be quite a sensitive strategy. Make Intel, or any number of small semiconductor companies, aware of this, and there is a strong possibility that instead of joining AMD, they'll fight, and damage AMD's market position."

Any sensitive, potentially damaging information isn't going to be released to a bunch of journalists, NDA or not.

Re:So what (2, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530293)

Lets get this straight: AMD is a corporation, and thus has no ethics, good or bad. Only the single minded goal of making as much money for share holders as possible. They present a reporter with an NDA. The reporter is a human who does have ethics, good or bad. The reporter judges the NDA to be evil, and makes a big deal about the company doing evil. This obviously is an attempt to make the ethicless company lose money if it continues on the same path. Since the company's sole goal is to make money, it will adjust it's business practices to that end. This means that this is not "where it stops." It is important to for people to get outraged when company do evil, because customers getting outraged over evil behavior is the mechanism that makes doing good instead of evil, the path of most profit for companies. Corporations being evil is the result of customers not being outraged in our "Corporates are required to maximize profits society".

No technical knowledge? Don't work in tech company (4, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529605)

From the article, which some comment posters above did not bother to read:

"Finally, AMD agreed to let Don and the other journalists attend the event [in Singapore] without signing that particular NDA... On Day 2 though, they were presented with another NDA to sign before a factory visit. [my emphasis] This one stipulated that "any confidential information from this visit would need written approval from corporate communications before it could be used."

It seems quite common that executives of technical companies have no understanding of their company's products, and because of that they sometimes have sink-the-company ideas. It won't matter to the executive if his company does poorly, he will just get a job somewhere else. When the company lays off employees they will suffer, however.

People with no technical knowledge, and little or no interest in learning about their company's products, should be encouraged to get a job somewhere else, or retire. They are dinosaurs from a pre-tech world.

If you are technically knowledgeable, why let someone stupid ruin your efforts? If you get together with other technically knowledgeable people and use some social skill, you can eliminate ignorant executives from your company.

Re:No technical knowledge? Don't work in tech comp (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529767)

It seems quite common that executives of technical companies have no understanding of their company's products, and because of that they sometimes have sink-the-company ideas.

I'm sorry, but if I was an executive of a large vendor in the highly competitive tech sector and I allowed reporters to tour my manufacturing plant without signing an NDA... THAT would be a sink-the-company idea.

You don't give out tours of the factory to give journos the scoop on everything you're working on for the next ten years. You do it to create goodwill, spin some big yarns full of impressive figures, give the writers something to yak about at the subsequent briefing/luncheon, etc.

If you go on a factory tour expecting to find tanks full of cloned aliens in the basement, you're not just a bad reporter, you're an idiot.

Re:No technical knowledge? Don't work in tech comp (1)

GPL Apostate (1138631) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529873)

It seems quite common that executives of technical companies have no understanding of their company's products, and because of that they sometimes have sink-the-company ideas.


Are you implying that AMD has executives who don't understand that what AMD produces is a bunch of fluff for Fanboyz to toot about? And that because of this they don't recognize that they blow it bigtime with said Fanboyz when they don't run a squeaky-clean operation?
Because I don't get your comment otherwise. I strongly suspect that AMD management has other priorities.

You think journalists should be allowed to walk through AMDs new plant without signing an NDA? Why do they even need to make the plant visit to report on the AMD product? That's specifically what the 'second day' NDA agreement seems to address: the plant visit.

This is a PR issue for AMD and that's what they should be handling better. Nothing more.

People with no technical knowledge, and little or no interest in learning about their company's products, should be encouraged to get a job somewhere else, or retire. They are dinosaurs from a pre-tech world.


Most businesses aren't run by Engineers. I have worked in Engineer-run and founded companies, and it's a GREAT place to work in product development. But those aren't necessarily the best companies overall, because nerds don't necessarily do business well.

There are worse NDAs in 3D software (1)

skeptobot (1125355) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529607)

This company http://www.fryrender.com/ [fryrender.com] sold a beta version of their rendering software for months while requiring anyone who BOUGHT the beta to sign strict NDA terms (no posting screenshots of the software, no talking about the software et cetera). So you couldn't get any information on a software that's already available to buy. NDAs are mentioned quite frequently on 3D software forums. It seems that all beta testers have to sign them.

That's the NDA process for you (4, Informative)

Helmholtz Coil (581131) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529665)

Having gone through the NDA process a few times, it's been my experience that it's really a negotiation and rarely a "take it or leave it" affair-they wouldn't be talking NDA if they didn't want to talk to you in the first place, so there's usually some flexibility.

What seems to happen is one or both sides offer an initial NDA that's insane (I think just to see what they can get away with, really); then the idea is to try and negotiate towards a sane(r) middle ground. So without knowing any details, the newspaper could have countered with a suggested NDA of their own, and walked away from the table if AMD wouldn't bend. No story for the paper in this case, but AMD also doesn't get the publicity it needs. If it happens enough with other media organizations, AMD ends up having to be a little more flexible if they want any coverage at all.

Apologies to kdawson But... (1)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529699)

Ok, AMD paid for a trip for a bunch of journalists to go to their manufacturing facility and listen to some lame marketing talk and have a look around. Is this the problem? Or is the problem that AMD wanted to stipulate "any confidential information from this visit would need written approval from corporate communications before it could be used"? I quote that from Tech ARP since that seems to be the request that caused them to stamp their little feet.

AMD wants to protect their confidential manufacturing secrets. This is outrageous how?

AMD to Reporters: Join our marketing team! (1)

CraigV (126819) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529821)

The question that needs examination is what is the purpose of AMD doing this. Isn't it just a method to expand their marketing arm to include so-called independent reporters. It seems to me that any reporter that signs such an NDA is not worth listening to. I might as well read the AMD press releases.

Reading between the lines (2, Interesting)

5pp000 (873881) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529845)

I think the reason this story is interesting is the hint it gives that AMD is having real trouble getting working Barcelona parts in any volume. Looks to me like they set this thing up because they either hoped to have good news, and then didn't, or because they just want to try to distract people from the Barcelona delays. Either way, seems like baaaaaad news.

All I can say is, I hope they pull out of this.

Re:Reading between the lines (0, Flamebait)

GISGEOLOGYGEEK (708023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530107)

This is modded interesting?

Come on, this guy isn't aware of the great benchmarks that have been coming out, and all the new press material AMD has released to support the imminent launch.

Ignorance is interesting. must have been an american modder.

kdawson (3, Interesting)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 6 years ago | (#20529967)

Seriously, who is this guy? All he ever does is post stories that link to sketchy blog postings that tend to bash MS and other big corporations. I'll be amazed when I see a story by him that contains some actual substance.

So, they protect their confidential information? (4, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20530419)

AMD is protecting their confidential information... if a journalist has AMD Confidential and Proprietary information, then anything they write about AMD's new, mostly-secret products needs review by AMD to make sure that the vendor didn't spill anything confidential about upcoming products. .... this is a 'scandal'? It's necessary and proper legal protection for their information. This is about as 'scandalous' as the US government clearing folks, letting them access cleared data, and then expecting them to pass any information they release about secret projects through a censor to get checked for the particular secret portions of those projects (TEMPEST shielding ... we use it... but you can't tell them how to make it, cut that part out and you're good to send).

This is either sensationalist or stupid. Looks like it comes from the "information wants to be free" hacker crowd.
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