One of the delights of doing something like EVTV is the daily level of surprise. I guess at this stage of my life, there really shouldn’t be any, but much like Charlie Brown and the football, they still get me everytime.
You may recall, and I know its just been in the past few months, where I described the process and results of our efforts at Boardwatch Magazine to put a meter on the Internet and the firestorm that ensued. I was genuinely surprised not so much at the vitriol, but at the seedy smarmy attempts to game the system from some really notable large corporations. We received about four calls a day for months wanting to know who my boss was, did we have a board of directors, who was chairman of the board, who owned the company, etc from people insisting I be “fired”. I did enjoy contemplating what being “fired” might mean from 80 hour work weeks but we didn’t have any of the corporate structure they were looking for.
They contacted ALL our advertisers, who did in turn contact me to express their concern. I was flat on that – we don’t discuss our editorial with advertisers. Sorry. We just don’t do it. Yes of course you can advertise elsewhere.
They contacted the owner of the BUILDING I was in insisting he kick me out of the building. They contacted our Internet service provider to demand we be disconnected. I actually did have one of those contact me to try to get me to tone it down so they wouldn’t have to take this unfortunate action. When I reminded him we had THREE 1.54Mbps connections from three different providers and would LOVE to get out of our current contract so we could get a less expensive one elsewhere, they demurred.
They wanted to contact our insurance company. We didn’t have one.
It went on and on. Fortunately, more as a happenstance of personality than any grand plan, I just wasn’t reachable. We didn’t have anything we cared about that they could take away. But I learned a lot as to the extent that they will go if they find what you say in public is uncomfortable.
I recall years later watching Imus in the Morning issue his nappy headed ho comment and the firestorm that ensued. But in truth, he was forced to apologize widely and with some ethusiasm for a comment that was more misconstrued by those seeking the limelight from it than it quite merited. And indeed CBS dropped him. He later resurfaced on another network but they did indeed make him go away.
I was fully cognizant going in to EVTV that there would be large corporations who would not want what we were going to say to be effectively said. And it has been at some expense that we set up from the beginning to be able to take the heat. There really aren’t any independent sources of news on anything that can serve as an independent voice with no axe to grind. It’s a little hard for almost anyone or any conventional structure to do so.
What I did NOT expect was it to come from the ranks of the electric car makers – in this case Tesla Motors. Of all entities on the planet, that is not where I would expect the corporate bullying I am all too familiar with. Oil companies? Sure. Conventional OEMs? No doubt. Government entities? Probably part of it. But electric car manufacturers????
Who would have thunk it.
My FIRST video on the Internet actually was on YouTube. It’s an actually not very well done time lapse video of the Bill Emerson Bridge.
This bridge is right outside my bedroom window. Bill Emerson was my mother’s first cousin and a Congressional representative for this area and the bridge his his pork contribution to Cape Girardeau. In any event, I’ve had a vision of HD video cameras scattered across the planet that will eventually allow you to convert any wall to any view on the planet you like – a vision derived from my earlier years in Secure Facilities cubicle city where there were no “windows” of any kind. 1350 views in six years. It is a might shy of viral.
But I quickly saw YouTube as precisely what it is, a video slum featuring severe restrictions on anyone who bothers to upload a video. I guess I didn’t take seriously how much of an advertising cesspool it would become as well. Today, they look for any excuse to paper over our videos with some of the most poorly designed advertising on the planet. And if you upload a video to YouTube you kind of have to march to their tune, which changes daily of course.
Young Jehu Garcia, whom I admired greatly at the time, confided that his DSLR video parts business was collapsing and he had to find an income stream if he was to avoid a return to carpentry as a trade and he had high hopes that he could become a video star on YouTube and make a fortune there. He’s read a magazine article on all the money video producers had made on YouTube. I failed I fear in my gentle attempt to explain to him that if there was any money to be made on YouTube the name on the check would be payable to Google, and thus far it had been an financial sinkhole for them as well. He in turn explained that I didn’t know what I was talking about and as he would demonstrate soon enough. As I don’t like the roll of dream debunker, I offered him $300 per month to do a segment a week on EVTV. We did not, and still don’t, pay for video contributions to EVTV. But I was hoping to encourage him a little. That lasted about 2 months of course. He gave me a royal ass chewing for being 3 days late with a payment. I pointed out that it was a holiday, which probably explained why he hadn’t sent in a segment that week either. We finally agreed I would go ahead and pay him for the coming month if he would go away. I did. But he didn’t.
In any event, I early recognized YouTube for what Jehu is now learning it is. Instead, I spent really months learning a much more difficult interface – Amazon’s cloudnet and AWS service. It’s technical. And in 2009 the tools were poor to deal with it. It only allowed 255 files per “bucket” in those days and was quite primitive. But I knew it would grow and change and our decision to host EVTV there was a very good one. The only thing I ever hear from Amazon is incessant requests that they be allowed to help. They have excellent, if slightly overwhelming documentation, seminars, training courses, etc which are probably needed as it is truly a complex environment.
The difference of course is that YouTube is free. You pay for everything on Amazon. We pay an hourly fee for host services to run our web and WordPress servers. Storage charges for every gigabyte of data we host. And bandwidth charges for every bit of data that passes their backbone. I think it’s pretty good value for the money and they are constantly upgrading the service wiht more featurs and more services and indeed more servers located around the world while regularly DECREASING their charges. This network is the real deal and I’m convinced they will at some point own cloud computing outright – ergo my ongoing investment in AMZN. Book sales is not where the future of this company is precisely. They execute very well with a global network.
Of course, every time one of you downloads EVTV, I’m out about 35 cents. Now you know why we don’t exactly WANT to go viral. It would break me. I DO have to point out that Amazon Prime Video and of course Netflix uses exactly the same network and tools to host their own videos. Indeed, Amazon Prime has broached the topic of adding EVTV to their Amazon Prime line which would allow us to sell copies of EVTV potentially to an entirely new audience. After reviewing the various documents, we basically declined. What if it worked? And then what if someone didn’t like what we said and wanted it removed. It is a power control point. A chink in the armor.
We recently published a news story on TEsla Motors, which is not too unusual. WE do so in almost every video. This one talked about their http://service.teslamotors.com site where they make a huge amount of service information available online, including full schematic diagrams not just of the Model S, but of every individual VARIANT of Model S they have produced, by data and feature. It has illustrated parts diagrams with part numbers and very detailed parts information. Most innovative and to me valuable, a CONNECTOR index that lists every electrical connector in the vehicle and providing the connector part numbers and pin definitions and physical locations and on and on. It’s an absolutely stunningly well done online service putting all others to shame. Maintenance procedures. Service bulletins. Can’t recommend it highly enough.
I did take them to task for their attempt to make it available ONLY to residents of the State of Massachusetts, which happens to sport one of the nations very few RIGHT TO REPAIR laws. This law REQUIRES automakers to make available the SAME information they provide to their own dealers and service centers to all independent repair shops AND INDIVIDUALS desiring to repair their own cars. It’s pretty unequivocal. It does allow them to charge for it as long as it is a “fair and reasonable” charge. Tesla interprets that as $30 per hour or $300 per month or $3000 per year. I even kind of like the rate structure. If you just want to check out a schematic – $30. If you are on every day year round – $3000. Cool.
The rub is, of course, they want it to be a secret. They don’t actually want anyone to access it. They just want to be able to point to it if called on the carpet in Massachusetts. And as result they’ve taken one of the stupidest positions I’ve seen yet on the Internet – a World Wide Web site purportedly ONLY available to residents of Massachusetts. It’s a crying shame I didn’t have time to get a quote from Tim Berners-Lee on his take on their redefinition of WORLD WIDE WEB.
In doing the story, we did of course reproduce some sample diagrams to illustrate the quality level of the information – a schematic and an Illustrated Parts Breakdown diagram and Connector cross index if I recall.
This week, I learned that YouTube had REMOVED our April 3rd Episode from the service after receiving a copyright violation claim from Tesla Motors, Inc.
In the past, YouTube simply removed anything anyone claimed was a copyright violation. Today, they have in very self serving fashion devised a cunning scheme where they plaster YOUR video with THEIR advertisements, and then forward the tiny sliver shared with YouTubioans to the claimant. This leads to some comically bizarre abuses in the neverending global competition to dig every last farthing out of the deepest reaches of the grass.
But in this case it just led them to remove the video. I WAS surprised to learn you had a form of appeal. You can file a counter claim and have your video restored. You have to agree to of course pay your own damn legal bills and defend an action in Federal Court but I found it curiously worded as that would be required to be filed in YOUR jurisdiction.
In any event we took advantage of it.
The center of the process is that YouTube is attempting to transfer THEIR legal liability for copyright infringement on their service from themselves to you – which as the creator of the work is where it should have been all along of course. And so if Tesla really wants it removed from the service, they have to sue EVTV. Tesla actually has an abysmal record with lawsuits and specifically against newsmedia, so it will be interesting to see. I dont’ think they’ve ever won a case or even had a settled event.
Ms. Charity Allen should of course be a trained lawyer to be allowed to take these actions on behalf of Tesla Motors. I somehow gather she’s not. But in any event, any first year law student or indeed basic business law 101 B-school undergrad would know better in this instance. This is an almost childishly simple textbook example of “Fair Use”
Fair Use is not a theory. It’s an integral part of copyright law granting very specific EXEMPTIONS to copyright law allowing use of public works that are copyrighted. What comprises fair use can indeed become a quagmire and are generally decided on a case by case basis. In this case, it won’t take long. Here’s is a fairly brief, and I think reasonably accurate description of a sometimes complex topic
There are several classic Fair Use tenets that are specifically spelled out in Section 107 of the Copyright law. In this case we qualify under almost all of them.
1. News Reporting. If you are reporting a news event you are really quite free to include copyrighted materials about the event. This is actually the broadest area and obviously our reporting of the existence of the web site rather requires some examples of what is ON it to indeed be news. The point of the news story was more Tesla’s reaction to the Right to Repair law in Massachusetts. But the image of their web site and indeed samples of the data to be found on it would comprise an extremely conservative reading of Fair Use.
2. Criticism. We probably qualify here as well. We were both commenting positively on the high quality of the materials presented on the web site, AND criticising Telsa for putting it up IN public but seeking to limit access to residents of Massachusetts and never mentioning it anywhere else at all that we can find.
3. Teaching/Instruction. Believe it or not you’re given fairly wide lattitude in using copyrighted materials in teaching and instruction. I’m basically free to use any or all of Teslas diagrams and procedures in teaching maintenance of a car or techniques to build a car. I guess I’ve always found this surprising and surprisingly liberal. But that’s the way it is written.
4. Remixes/New Works. If you took 10 music videos on Youtube and combined pieces of all of them into a new music video, believe it or not that is a new work and fair use. More commonly, you do like your own Top 10 Music Videos list and include portions of each. I see this all the time, on YouTube coincidentally, on the Top 10 Britain’s Got Talent tryouts. I actually like them. You can skip all the loser acts and just see the good ones.
In adjudicating fair use, it mostly comes to whether or not your use causes economic harm to the original artist. And it can’t be incidental harm. It has to be replacement. In other words, if you do a review of a book or video game and include excerpts from it, that you tell everybody it is a TERRIBLE book or game and that causes harm – it is still fair use. If you reproduce so much of the original work that people go to see your free version instead of their for pay version, that is an economic harm. You have “replaced” their opportunity to market their work.
In this case, the whole concept is absurd. We put up a part of each of three diagrams behind me in video, of diagrams that are really only useful if they are on paper or some form of PDF where you can actually use them. But the key element is, they were 3 of THOUSANDS of such diagrams and maintenance procedures. It would be absurd to consider them a replacement source of the information.
The bottom line, the heart and nature of EVTV is a triumvirate of News, Editorial, and Instruction. It is so evident, that Tesla’s claim to YouTube is by itself a knowingly fraudulent and slanderous claim.
The intent of course is not to adjudicate Copyright Infringement. Ms. Allen certainly knew beforehand that the claim was ridiculously specious. It would be astounding for them to actually bring an action as undoubtedly they would face not only loss, but probably censure from the court. The intent was to feed on the terror evinced in most people on the Internet at the prospect of the legal expense of being sued.
I once paid a mailing house bill twice. We paid the owner for his work. He sold the company, but had the bill still outstanding on his books. The new owner filed a small claims suit to collect the $3000. The problem was we kind of dropped the ball on it and I suddenly found we had a court date at exactly the same time we had a $3million trade show in San Francisco. I was kind of expected to be there of course – both places. So we paid it again WITH a cancelled check and paid receipt for the work IN HAND.
That kind of got under my saddle. I made an appointment during the week following the show with Davis Graham Stubbs, Denvers largest, oldest, and most prestigious law firm. We came immediately to terms on a sufficiently eggregious monthly retainer fee and I adopted a new policy in concert with them – defend anything to the death, settle nothing, and sue anybody that looks at us cross-ways or mutters anything under their breath.
Within days we were collecting on advertising accounts that were six months overdue. And when I sold Boardwatch they actively prevented a $5 million dollar near mistake in a 740 page sale document. Today, it is just part of business. Get over it. You have to pay to play.
To BE an independent and truthful voice in a world of corporate beheamoth dinosaurs, you can’t just bluster like Imus. You really have to BE bullet proof. If they take away your house, build a new one. If they sieze your birthday, look at as an opportunity to claim to be any age you like and celebrate when you want. But in all events, avoid falling under CONTROL of someone else who may lack the personal courage to stand by their convictions. Amazon’s Instant Video and YouTube are classic examples. We cannot depend on them – ever and at all.
I do kind of depend on YouTube, but not for anything important to me. As best I can tell, we have about 18,000 what I would call “regular” viewers who view our show at least twice a month. YouTube might be 1000. We upload for a specific reason. IOS devices do not support Flash. And as a convenience to some of our viewers who watch on an iPad or iPhone, it is easier for them to get it on YouTube. YouTube DOES do an excellent job of video format conversion. I think Amazon cloudnet probably does as well, but I haven’t learned to use it yet.
So that is what I am finding interesting this week. For you, probably not so much. What we do have is Damien Maguire plugging a BMW DIY conversion into an AVC50 CHAdeMO charge point and elegantly sipping electrons at 123 amperes. I’ve prevailed on other hack team members key on this project to provide a little look under the hood as to how and why. Collin Kidder describes how to write and test software at a distance of 4000 miles. I kind of assisted with showing how to debug using print statements in very old school fashion. And Paulo Almeida discusses why we started with an ATMega328P chip and how we loaded the poor thing to stall with additional features. He also discusses the next generation prototype using a new ARM CORE0 chip bumping the memory from 32kb to 256kb, as well as speed and compatibility. This is the chip Arduino uses in their new ZERO board.
He also discusses some of the passive component design choices for the OTHER end of CHAdeMO that he is working on. A DC-DC buck/boost switch that is bidirectional at up to 500v and 300 amps. Apparently, by switching at 100kHz they think they can get the necessory inductor value down to about 35 uH. We love it if they can make it so.
This comprises our point of attack on Fast Charging. Somewhat more ambitious than you might have thought or even Damien might have thought. We intend to seize CHAdeMO as the standard for DIY EV’s and improve upon it – the game is to eventually displace both SAE Combo and Tesla’s Supercharger as the “standard” way to fast charge. Combo is Dead on Announcement. And Tesla is now facing increasing demand for CHAdeMO adapters for their cars. It will take five years to play out, but the outcome is already clear to me. It will be a 300 amp version of CHAdeMO.
I am told that Tesla has now opened a fast charge station in St. Charles Missouri. That’s about 140 miles from here and certainly reachable by Model S. It does not yet appear on their maps and indeed Missouri isn’t listed at all.
Finally I do a basic device to make bottom balancing easier and less expensive – mostly to further educate our West Coast interns – Industry Legend in his own mind, Michael Bream and the shortest movie mogul on the planet, Jehu Garcia. They do a regular comic parody of EVTV itself (fair use), but unfortunately got confused on another topic – plagiarism regarding bottom balancing. We call them out on it.