[time-nuts] negative mention of products (was: DIY VNA design)

Attila Kinali attila at kinali.ch
Mon Aug 22 18:15:19 EDT 2016


I am going here a little bit off-topic. Please bear with me for a second,
because I think it is likely that people on technical mailinglists/forums
might run into this problem at some point in their life.

On Mon, 22 Aug 2016 16:16:16 +0100
"Dr. David Kirkby (Kirkby Microwave Ltd)" <drkirkby at kirkbymicrowave.co.uk> wrote:

> That resulted in the manufacturer of the RigExpert contacting Tom, as they
> were unhappy about my comments. (Strangely they never contacted me!) I
> received a phone call from Jan, the UK distributor about it. Basically they
> did not want to get into a war with other companies like RigExpert. I can
> see that discussions about VNAs in general could lead to discussions
> comparing products.

Yes, lots of companies do get very unhappy when they see negative
mentiones of their product. Quite a few of them also do not get that
a mailinglist/forum/... is not responsible for what their users write.
Some even threaten to sue, in case a negative remark is not removed

There are two ways to handle this: Give in and remove the offending
post or ignore the threats. Legaly, there is not much a company can
do about such post, as long as they are factual (can you sue a magazine
for giving a bad review?). Such messages are covered by free speech and
unless they are made up or defamation, they are perfectly legal. But
proving that in curt might or might not put a burden on the owner of
the mailinglist/forum. Having dealt with threats of similar nature
(patent and copyright claims) a couple of times in the past, my opinion
is that these threats are best either ignored or reported to officials as
duress. But whether you can afford to do that highly depends on where you
live and what your ISP's opinon is on these kind of claims. I have been
lucky to live in a country without DMCA and to have choosen an ISP that
will not move a bit without an official curt order. Others might not be
as lucky. 

Those cases where we got legal nastygrams (usually per email, which is
not legaly binding) were all resolved by either ignoring them or talking to
them. All but one actually got that their local laws do not apply in other
countries (yes, we got DMCA'ed more than once) and if they wanted something,
they would have to go through the local legal system, which would cost them
more in money and reputation then they were willing to pay. Not once were we
ever actually sued (though i know that VLC got into a legal dispute with
Dolby but it never actually went to curt).

So, whether you want to keep negative comments on a forum/mailinglist or
not depends on where you live, where the server is located and whether
you can afford to get sued (even if the risk is increadibly low).

			Attila Kinali

It is upon moral qualities that a society is ultimately founded. All 
the prosperity and technological sophistication in the world is of no 
use without that foundation.
                 -- Miss Matheson, The Diamond Age, Neil Stephenson

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