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Toshiba Pursues Copyright Claim Against Laptop Manual Site 268

Posted by Soulskill
from the overactive-legal-team dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm sure most Slashdot readers have had occasion to suffer through a hardware manufacturer's terrible website in search of product documentation. It's often hidden away in submenus of submenus, and if your product is more than a couple years old, you probably have to wade through broken links. One guy has been helping to change that; he runs a site called Tim's Laptop Service Manuals, where he collects by hand materials from many different companies and hosts them together in one spot. Now Toshiba has become aware of his project, and helpfully forced him to remove all of their manuals under a copyright claim."
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Toshiba Pursues Copyright Claim Against Laptop Manual Site

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  • by skywire (469351) * on Saturday November 10, 2012 @09:36AM (#41942065)

    But I'm sure we'll now see a flood of posts from the clueless about how Toshiba "has to defend their patent or lose it".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 10, 2012 @09:48AM (#41942135)

    I understand copyright law, and that what this guy is doing is pretty clearly in violation of it, however:
    1) the manuals are useless unless you have already bought Toshiba products, so people downloading the manuals are mostly likely your paying customers anyway
    2) support is an important aspect of my purchasing decisions, and having easy access to technical manuals makes a big difference, especially for laptops, where getting into them to replace parts or fix things is particularly tricky
    3) if people need to resort to a 3rd-party website to get the manual, then you need to fix YOUR site
    4) why not get together with other laptop computer manufacturers and SUPPORT the guy in his efforts, rather than discouraging him?

  • by fatphil (181876) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @09:50AM (#41942149) Homepage
    Nah, nah, nah - "May your laptop drop dead" + "and please buy another one from us when it does" - totally different from "drop dead", you're *so* cynical.

    (But regarding your body text, I'm sure there will be some clueless parroting of "information wants to be free" too.)

    I'm curious - could individuals host single pages, under the Fair Use doctrine? If you have enough individuals doing that, ones who don't forbid an aggregator from reframing their content (whilst hosting none itsef), ...

    (And this could be the true use for "Anonymous", not their braindead LOIC DDoS attempts.)
  • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @09:58AM (#41942195) Homepage Journal

    Obviously if you publish or distribute some work you did not craft yourself, you should ask the owner first.
    If only for politeness sake.
    How would you feel if I published an old pdf from you without asking or informing you?

  • Re:shame (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stevew (4845) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @10:16AM (#41942303) Journal

    How is a company defending a legitimate copyright imply anything about the quality of their machines.

    We are all about enforcement of the GPL to protect our rights in the free software movement, yet when a company uses EXACTLY the same laws that give us the freedom to choose alternate software everyone gets up-in-arms about the big bad business pursuing a claim against someone who has essentially stolen their copyrighted work and is using it to make money?

  • Re:shame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by similar_name (1164087) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @10:47AM (#41942555)
    I'm not sure he was making money from it. From the looks of his site he doesn't even have ads*. In any event, I'm okay with copyright (I may think it's too long right now but the idea is valid IMO). In this case though, I think Toshiba would be wiser to let him do what it does. They could create a license for their manuals that allow this type of thing if they're really worried about defending copyright. And freedom to choose, means that people can choose not to buy Toshiba because of this. Since companies exist to make money, boycotting them when you disagree with a policy is one of the best ways to influence their behavior.

    *He does have a donate button. I don't think that means his site rises to the level of a commercial enterprise but I wouldn't defend that position if you disagree. But I would still think it in the interest of Toshiba's customers (and Toshiba) to let him do this.
  • by Stirling Newberry (848268) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @11:21AM (#41942797) Homepage Journal
    It is actions like this, as well as who is paid, that has turned many people against copyright as an abusive and indefensible theft of the commons.
  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Saturday November 10, 2012 @12:54PM (#41943579) Homepage

    First off, copying is not theft [gnu.org]. You're making an appeal to authority without considering what that authority says. As the FSF points out, "Unauthorized copying is forbidden by copyright law in many circumstances (not all!), but being forbidden doesn't make it wrong. In general, laws don't define right and wrong. Laws, at their best, attempt to implement justice. If the laws (the implementation) don't fit our ideas of right and wrong (the spec), the laws are what should change.".

    Second, the key to understanding how GPL copyright infringement lawsuits are so different from proprietor's copyright infringement lawsuits or threats of copyright infringement lawsuits is to examine the effect on the user. The GPL says you're free to do things regulated by copyright law including copying so long as you don't deny recipients the same freedoms to do the same. Proprietors, on the other hand, deny recipients those freedoms; Toshiba is flatly disallowing anyone who's not an authorized dealer from sharing copies of their manuals. Again, just because a law says copying is forbidden by default doesn't make copying wrong. Thus despite using the same underlying copyright system, the outcome for the user is radically different and the public's support for that underlying system should reflect what we need that system to say. The conditions the GPL grants licensees are far more amenable to the public than the antisocial deal proprietors offer.

  • by war4peace (1628283) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @01:20PM (#41943803)

    But... you obviously didn't.

  • by sjames (1099) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @02:26PM (#41944381) Homepage

    I'm not so sure I want to buy anything from a company that considers repairs to be a profit center. Too much conflict of interest.

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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