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Old 30th April 2010, 14:29   #1
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Default Is publishing car scoops illegal?

Upcoming car models can be considered as trade secrets and respective companies might have copyrights. This is a reason why the car companies camouflage their prototypes. As auto junkies, we look for spotting such prototypes to post pics of them, discuss about them, reveal specs about them, etc. But, can this be considered as violation of any trade secret laws? Can the car companies track down the poster and take legal action?

This comes in wake of the recent legal action taken on Jason Chen (editor of tech blog Gizmodo) who published details about next generation IPhone. To give a background for anyone who hasn't heard about the leak:

An apple employee by name Gray Powell was doing a real world test of the company's next generation Iphone 4G. Apparently he misplaced his prototype phone in a bar. The guy who found it gave it to the tech blog site gizmodo. Gizmodo published an exclusive report about it and posted detailed pics of the device. Now, Gizmodo is facing legal charges and the police have confiscated the computer equipment used by Gizmodo and they have confiscated a lot of his personal belongings.

Source: The Tale of Apple's Next iPhone - Iphone 4 - Gizmodo
Police Seize Jason Chen's Computers - Iphone 4 leak - Gizmodo

I know car companies aren't as secretive as Apple. But if they want to, can they? All the legal experts, please voice your thoughts.

@Mods - Please move this thread to a different section if required.

Last edited by grules : 30th April 2010 at 14:32.
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Old 30th April 2010, 14:34   #2
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Well, if you are going to run your car on a public road. Dont see any reason why one should call taking pics illegal.

But again, if you are opening the car when the owner is car company guys is not around and taking pics of the car then it can be termed illegal.

In short, it depends on what kind of pic is it and where the pics were shot. you can generalize them as illegal
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Old 30th April 2010, 14:50   #3
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Well the iPhone thing is different. It is technically stealing since they actually took the product.

The analogy is this: If some idiot driver leaves the test car's keys behind and doors unlocked, you don't have the right to drive the car around and publish reviews. Because in doing so, you're also stealing a car.

On the other hand, taking pics is not illegal or manufacturers would have sued every auto magazine ages ago.
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Old 30th April 2010, 15:34   #4
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Ok.. so I have this Mango farm of mine by the highway and
I dont want people to steal my mangoes fine..

But now, I dont want them to even see those mangoes or refer to them as being existent

LOL:
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Old 30th April 2010, 15:59   #5
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@grules:

Stealing a product is different from taking spy pictures. Suppose you jumped the gate and stole a prototype and published a review, you would go to jail. Suppose you sat all day outside the company R&D center sipping tea and took some pictures of a masked prototype being tested, you don't have to go to jail.

I hope I have set aside your fears... Go forth and take spy pics my friend.
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Old 30th April 2010, 16:16   #6
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I don't think taking spy pics will be a crime if you use it for an education exercise. If you want to earn profit out of it though, then it might get into murky waters.

Unless ofcourse, if you are running a news paper!
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Old 30th April 2010, 17:00   #7
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The case regarding I phone as many mentioned here is different from taking scoop pics. Its equivalent to driving away a prototype from car manufacturer when no one was around and publishing the pics and details of the same. But the pics of all scoops that was seen on TBHP are those taken from roads when road testing was going on. As long as the pic is taken on public road there is nothing anyone can say against you. But if you were posting some details leaked from any of your contact who works for the manufacturer or pics taken from inside their facility then you / contact can be in trouble.
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Old 30th April 2010, 19:09   #8
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OT. i have been following the iphone 4G episode ever since it broke out. No one stole it. Infact the person who found the product called up apple to report it, but due to the secrecy in apple, none of the employees even admitted to its existence. If I am not mistaken the product was returned to its owner.

Back to the topic, I dont see any valid point to argue that a pic that I take is illegal.
Eg, when you take a street photo, the rights rests with you, not with the people in the pic.

Last edited by mxx : 30th April 2010 at 19:10.
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Old 30th April 2010, 19:32   #9
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The legal position should read something like this:

Any object that is sighted in a public place attracts no penal provisions, if photographed and reviewed. Only if the prototype is either camouflaged or even not camouflaged and kept/parked or is moving within the confines of some private immovable property (includes private and government property/ premises, the airports included-never attempt photography at airports as our laws are still not very clear) does it attract the Criminal Law provisions viz. IPC trespass, unauthorised photography and other relevant sections of the IPC. Also laws like infringement of copyright may be applicable together with civil laws of the land too under various Acts and sections (as applicable).
Hence, if anyone pictures any automobile prototype (do not click the interiors unauthorised by opening the doors, bonnet, boot lid etc. which may again attract penal provisions) from the outside which is stationed/parked or is moving in any public place is 100% legal and within the permissible laws in our country.
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Old 30th April 2010, 21:19   #10
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BTW, the person in the bar might have "stolen" it or found a lost device or whatever (according to me finding a lost device is not "stealing", I won't get into the returning bit). AFAIK Gizmodo PAID the guy to get hold of the device. They didn't TAKE it or STEAL it themselves.
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Old 30th April 2010, 21:31   #11
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Well the guy who took the iPhone sold it to Gizmodo. That makes it stealing and selling. If you find a lost item, shouldn't you either ignore it or return it to the owner/police?
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Old 30th April 2010, 21:34   #12
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There are laws in other countries. I am not sure about India. I saw this documentary on some channel, where people used to wait for hours on a road stretch for a click. Not to mention the snaps used to sell for good $$
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Old 1st May 2010, 19:23   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prince_pervez View Post
There are laws in other countries. I am not sure about India. I saw this documentary on some channel, where people used to wait for hours on a road stretch for a click. Not to mention the snaps used to sell for good $$
As long as pictures are clicked while the prototypes/cars are on the public roads/areas, there are no violations. And discussions as to the possible specs are also ok as long as they are speculations. If someone tried to bribe the driver/technical team and got a peek at the real stuff, that could be a violation.
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Old 1st May 2010, 19:54   #14
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You can be sure that companies like Apple and Microsoft and a few other large corporations are going to use and twist the law to their greatest advantage, and whether they actually get a successful prosecution, or win a civil-law case, is almost of secondary importance. The law is a great tool of the wealthy bully, and a great threat to the not so wealthy.

The actual outcome of the case against Gizmodo will be interesting to see. It is easy to understand that they might be guilty of receiving stolen property (as it would be called in UK) as the phone was the obvious property of Apple. Hopeful, they have very full documentation of the finder's attempt to return it, not just his word for it. If it had been me, I would have tried two or three times, with recorded phone calls. They still had a news item, even if they had had to return it.

So far as this thread is concerned, the point is that the legal issues (so far as I know) centre around finding, receiving and possession, rather than publication.

Gizmodo is Apple-obsessed. Their obsession must be worth a huge amount of advertising to Apple. On the other hand, Apple has a mafia-like nobody-gets-away-with-it attitude. We'll see!

In the meantime, I have discovered how to make Gizmodo an interesting site, using the NOT tags in the URL, and I no longer see any of their coverage of iphones, ipads, i-anything-apps, none of which interest me.

Quote:
As long as pictures are clicked while the prototypes/cars are on the public roads/areas, there are no violations.
Or even visible from them! As far as I know, you are not committing any trespass by just taking photos of private property, at least not in UK, despite the fact the police there are obsessed with photographers!

Unless you work for the company, or have some other contractual relationship with them --- take and publish your pics!

I am not a lawyer. <---standard internet disclaimer!

Several of our members are. It would be nice if one of them posts their opinion on this.
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Old 1st May 2010, 22:16   #15
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Well, just before the ZMR was revealed, a guy took photos of it, while it was parked in a hangar. It had come for an AD shoot. This guy then published these pics all over the internet with pride. HH took note and sent him a legal notice, as it was infringement of privacy. (This guy bypassed security and went into the hangar)
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