Announcement Let's Talk About Clones

Necere

SFF Guru
NCASE
Feb 22, 2015
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Well, there was this post:

@Bangle you have been warned. We have told you on no uncertain terms that if you have a concern with a product, take it up with the IP holder. We will not tolerate any further behaviour like this, especially considering your propensity to call out the staff of this forum on your perceived unfairness.
On its face, this looks a lot like censorship. If the policy is to allow free criticism of clones, why the line "if you have a concern, take it up with the IP holder?" If the issue was just about maintaining a civil discussion, shouldn't it have been more like, "you're free to express your opinion, but please keep it civil." And maybe point out, what, exactly, they said that wasn't civil. But directing people to take their issues with a product off the forum sure seems like it's censoring the discussion.
 
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loader963

Master of Cramming
Bronze Supporter
Jan 21, 2017
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The thing is this wasn’t the only post. I couldn’t find the moderated one, so I can’t comment on that, but there are more. Including several calling out staff specifically. Regardless his opinion has been stated plenty of times, which can easily be read by anyone even now. That’s not censorship to me. I’m glad he’s passionately defending a product he loves, but the method is a bit crude.
 
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Hifihedgehog

Master of Cramming
May 3, 2016
381
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I agree that designs should be protected and not blatantly copied—my heart goes out to them and I hope that guilty offenders are quickly brought to justice for their infractions. However, the problem is the time and effort forum staff as a regulating body would have to invest to ensure fair enforcement of infringment violation rules. First of all, users could not simply say this or that looks similar without specifically stating what with detailed, qualified and quantified information.

For example, a “top hat” or an optional stackable chamber is not creation of Louqe since many other more mainstream manufacturers have used the same idea in their cases. More specifically, you would have to specify ratios, dimensions, materials, object features which indicate outright copying. For example:
X case is a copy of case Y given the following features.
-A, located x to the right and y to the the top from the bottom left, is an exact copy of item.
-B has the precisely the same M:N proportions and has the exact same unique features located at P and Q
(...)


If this cannot be done, it is best to remain quiet once someone has said their piece. Besides, imagine the sheer amount of work forum staff would have to do extrapolate, document and enforce all the technical data and standards. That would easily become a day job in and of itself for them to attempt regulating each and every submission for compliance and to critically review every violation report submission. Ultimately, the burden of evidence—not unsubstantiated accusations—is on the original creators to defend their own works, not well-meaning end-users.

Making repeated generic, emotionally charged statements (such as it is a rip-off, lazy copy, etc.) is not an effective means for conversation intended for resolution. Repeated comments of this nature are idle banter at best and, at worst, they can even be interpreted as confrontational vitriol. Persisting in such behavior can even come across to others as vigilantism especially when the original content creators have not so much as raised a concern or when the creators themselves may actually see no violation at all. It does none of us any good at all when we take justice into our own hands and assume the roles of judge, jury and executioner, especially when it can become mentally unhealthy to continually belabor and obsess over a point when that point has already been sufficiently made. That is my final unfiltered opinion on the matter and that is why I totally agree with the forum staff and their established policy in going forward.
 
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Necere

SFF Guru
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Feb 22, 2015
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The thing is this wasn’t the only post. I couldn’t find the moderated one, so I can’t comment on that, but there are more. Including several calling out staff specifically. Regardless his opinion has been stated plenty of times, which can easily be read by anyone even now. That’s not censorship to me. I’m glad he’s passionately defending a product he loves, but the method is a bit crude.
Okay. Like I said, I wasn't there for the full discussion, so I don't have the same context as the mods do. Nevertheless, I feel like @confusis's response above comes across as saying criticism of clones is not okay to do on the forum. Perhaps he could've phrased it better.
 
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Nanook

King of Cable Management
May 23, 2016
797
780
The folks that keep bringing up the copycat(s), are inadvertently advertising the copycat(s). I've forgotten most knock-offs, and the mentions / links brings the copycats back to top-of-mind for me.
 

Necere

SFF Guru
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Feb 22, 2015
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Making repeated generic, emotionally charged statements (such as it is a rip-off, copy, etc.) is not an effective way for conversation. Repeated comments of this nature are idle banter at best and, at worst, they can even be interpreted as confrontational vitriol. Persisting in such behavior can come across to others as vigilantism especially when the original content creators have not so much as raised a concern or when the creators themselves may actually see no violation at all. It does none other of us any good at all when we try to assume the role of judge, jury and executioner, especially when it can become mentally unhealthy to continually belabor and obsess over a point when that point has already been sufficiently made
I agree with this. There comes a point when you've made your point, and certainly if you're the only one continually banging on that drum, it's going to get tiresome for everyone else. That said, the needless, unproductive repetition of the posts should be the main point the moderators should focus on, IMO - not whether their point is valid or should be discussed on the forum at all.
 

GuilleAcoustic

Chief Procrastination Officer
Moderator
LOSIAS
Jun 29, 2015
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Okay. Like I said, I wasn't there for the full discussion, so I don't have the same context as the mods do. Nevertheless, I feel like @confusis's response above comes across as saying criticism of clones is not okay to do on the forum. Perhaps he could've phrased it better.
As stated, it was not his first "this is a clone" post. I am well in favor of constructive criticism and against plagiarism, but when a user just tirelessly spams "it's a clone" this is not ok.

I too like to design, I went to art school for 2 years, been a game dev, so I am very sensitive on the IP aspect. Sadly this is something pretty hard to control. If one comes up with a good design, then it is not a matter of "will I be cloned" but rather "when will I be cloned".

This is my humble opinion, as a human not as a mod. My role here is to keep discutions constructive and civil, all of that on my free time (read sleep time mostly lol).
 

Phuncz

Lord of the Boards
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Gold Supporter
May 9, 2015
4,442
3,983
Okay. Like I said, I wasn't there for the full discussion, so I don't have the same context as the mods do. Nevertheless, I feel like @confusis's response above comes across as saying criticism of clones is not okay to do on the forum. Perhaps he could've phrased it better.
As the first post of this topic already summed up, we (staff and moderators) don't take issue with the discussion of clones. We do take issue with people trolling our forum or derailing a project topic by regularly claiming a design is a clone of another case. The problem with a project being brandished as a clone damages the project, much like how shipping delays sometimes get people to use the words "scam" and "vaporware".

Picking apart @confusis mod-edit word for word on the meaning and scrutinizing word choices is not the problem, we aren't a political world leader's communication agency but a collection of individuals putting in precious free time to maintain this community.
 

Windfall

Shrink Way Wielder
Nov 14, 2017
1,918
1,419
Couldn't a court attack SFFn for hosting these things, especially if the original maker brought the situation to court?
Couldn't the forum be viewed as supporting them?

I don't want this place shut down...
 

Necere

SFF Guru
NCASE
Feb 22, 2015
1,436
2,719
The problem with a project being brandished as a clone damages the project, much like how shipping delays sometimes get people to use the words "scam" and "vaporware".
Does it really damage the project if the charge of cloning lacks merit, though? If it's just one person ranting about it, then who is really going to take it seriously? On the other hand, if a lot of people think it's a clone, then it probably deserves whatever damage results from that label. That's assuming that you think cloning is unethical in the first place.

Picking apart @confusis mod-edit word for word on the meaning and scrutinizing word choices is not the problem, we aren't a political world leader's communication agency but a collection of individuals putting in precious free time to maintain this community.
Well, words are important, and especially so when backed by authority. Also this is John's (side?) job, so can we at least hold him to a higher standard?


On the topic of word choice, this passage in @PlayfulPhoenix's OP statement strikes me as problematic:

Let me also speak towards decorum around the discussion of clones. However you may feel about a particular project, any accusations, shitposting, thread hijacking or similar behavior in response to them is not ok, full stop.
Specifically, "accusations are not ok?" What is calling something a clone if not an accusation of unethical conduct?
 

Nanook

King of Cable Management
May 23, 2016
797
780
Couldn't a court attack SFFn for hosting these things, especially if the original maker brought the situation to court?
Couldn't the forum be viewed as supporting them?

I don't want this place shut down...
No. That is extremely far-fetched. And as a forum, this is protected by first amendment (in US).
 

Josh | NFC

Not From Concentrate
NFC Systems
Silver Supporter
Jun 12, 2015
1,860
4,394
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Really the mods on this forum are all amazing. I disagree with them from time to time but no question that they are great people. PlayfulPhoenix continually impresses me with his unwavering professionalism and dedication to transparency. Confusis not only is a moderator but contributes loads of amazing content to this site, and really is passionate about keeping things civil and making sure people are treated with respect. Phuncz is like the clan elder who patiently waits and dispenses wisdom at key moments. jØrd is an incredible example to me of humility as his technical knowledge and expertise are utterly astounding but never talks down to people. Aibohphobia was a beating heart of this community who has contributed more to SFF enthusiasts than anyone I know.

There are many more moderators here who blow me away with their knowledge and friendliness and I am super grateful to them for the work they put into this community. At the same time, it's not just the mods that support the forum. There are members on here who spend tons of their precious free time helping others on the forum, and contributing content. Without them this forum wouldn't exist either.

Basically the way I see it is the owners of the forum need to make a decision. More laws lead to more laws and more work. Less laws means the forum can self-regulate, but it can get ugly.

Either way, I think the culture here has changed, and I only see more outsiders coming in to take advantage of what all of us have created. I don't believe they are doing this maliciously or anything like that, but I said long ago if we can't build a culture where we build each other up and credit each other's ideas...well...

Couldn't a court attack SFFn for hosting these things, especially if the original maker brought the situation to court?
Couldn't the forum be viewed as supporting them?

I don't want this place shut down...
It stands to reason that if a website could have legal trouble over promoting or hosting pirated software or music, then certainly this would apply to other forms of protected IP. I don't think anyone here with protected work would consider hurting the community in this way. I certainly hope not...
 

loader963

Master of Cramming
Bronze Supporter
Jan 21, 2017
594
519
I don’t think this site is in the wrong, at least in US law. The thing about music/sw sharing sites is that people are actively getting and using other’s ip from that site. Here there is only conversations about products, some of which may infringe on IP rights.

And @Necere i do agree it could be worded better but I think the intent is fairly clear.
 

confusis

John Morrison. Founder and Head writer SFF.N
SFF Workshop
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Jun 19, 2015
3,331
5,649
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@Necere this is my side job, after having a full time day job and being a solo parent of two children.

The warning that is repeatedly quoted in here, stated by myself, was directed at a user who's intent was less to advise people of possible plagiarism and more towards goading site staff into reacting. Numerous posts by the user attacked our choice of actions or lack thereof. Taking it out of that context is adding meaning to it that isn't there.
 

Flyingpepper

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Jan 8, 2018
107
191
My current understanding is fundimentally that here at SFFn the stance is essentially to allow open conversation about clones provided its not shit posting, thread jacking or flame warring.
It is certainly possible that I am missing some deleted posts, but the overwhelming criticism I’ve seen pointed out the factual and overwhelming similarities between the Steck and the Ghost. I have not seen anything that I would consider shit posting, thread jacking, etc.

^ No one was censored though. There was one guy who did have a moderation and temporary ban. He has been very vocal about it in this thread. But there are plenty of voices calling out the copycat that have not been censored.

No one on the staff has said or even indicated that people should “keep quiet” ,“do nothing”, or said “we support ip theft”. They have also NOT SAID that people cant state their opinions. All the staff said was that they were not gonna judge individual cases themselves and asked for members to please be civil in threads.

Well what I saw were multiple warnings about discussing the clone issue. I even saw a mod edit that said to stop discussing “the clone bs.” Perhaps there’s missing context now but it seemed a tad much.


I agree that designs should be protected and not blatantly copied—my heart goes out to them and I hope that guilty offenders are quickly brought to justice for their infractions. However, the problem is the time and effort forum staff as a regulating body would have to invest to ensure fair enforcement of infringment violation rules. First of all, users could not simply say this or that looks similar without specifically stating what with detailed, qualified and quantified information.

For example, a “top hat” or an optional stackable chamber is not creation of Louqe since many other more mainstream manufacturers have used the same idea in their cases. More specifically, you would have to specify ratios, dimensions, materials, object features which indicate outright copying. For example:
X case is a copy of case Y given the following features.
-A, located x to the right and y to the the top from the bottom left, is an exact copy of item.
-B has the precisely the same M:N proportions and has the exact same unique features located at P and Q
(...)


If this cannot be done, it is best to remain quiet once someone has said their piece. Besides, imagine the sheer amount of work forum staff would have to do extrapolate, document and enforce all the technical data and standards. That would easily become a day job in and of itself for them to attempt regulating each and every submission for compliance and to critically review every violation report submission. Ultimately, the burden of evidence—not unsubstantiated accusations—is on the original creators to defend their own works, not well-meaning end-users.

Making repeated generic, emotionally charged statements (such as it is a rip-off, lazy copy, etc.) is not an effective means for conversation intended for resolution. Repeated comments of this nature are idle banter at best and, at worst, they can even be interpreted as confrontational vitriol. Persisting in such behavior can even come across to others as vigilantism especially when the original content creators have not so much as raised a concern or when the creators themselves may actually see no violation at all. It does none of us any good at all when we take justice into our own hands and assume the roles of judge, jury and executioner, especially when it can become mentally unhealthy to continually belabor and obsess over a point when that point has already been sufficiently made. That is my final unfiltered opinion on the matter and that is why I totally agree with the forum staff and their established policy in going forward.
Clearly the stackable part of the case is not part of the conversation here. No one claims Louqe is the only company that can have expansion chambers. Saying that is the main issue is a huge stretch.

I would welcome your reply to my argument here that details exactly why it is a direct derivative. So far I haven’t seen any specific reasons that would convince me otherwise.
 
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Windfall

Shrink Way Wielder
Nov 14, 2017
1,918
1,419
No. That is extremely far-fetched. And as a forum, this is protected by first amendment (in US).
Really the mods on this forum are all amazing. I disagree with them from time to time but no question that they are great people. PlayfulPhoenix continually impresses me with his unwavering professionalism and dedication to transparency. Confusis not only is a moderator but contributes loads of amazing content to this site, and really is passionate about keeping things civil and making sure people are treated with respect. Phuncz is like the clan elder who patiently waits and dispenses wisdom at key moments. jØrd is an incredible example to me of humility as his technical knowledge and expertise are utterly astounding but never talks down to people. Aibohphobia was a beating heart of this community who has contributed more to SFF enthusiasts than anyone I know.

There are many more moderators here who blow me away with their knowledge and friendliness and I am super grateful to them for the work they put into this community. At the same time, it's not just the mods that support the forum. There are members on here who spend tons of their precious free time helping others on the forum, and contributing content. Without them this forum wouldn't exist either.

Basically the way I see it is the owners of the forum need to make a decision. More laws lead to more laws and more work. Less laws means the forum can self-regulate, but it can get ugly.

Either way, I think the culture here has changed, and I only see more outsiders coming in to take advantage of what all of us have created. I don't believe they are doing this maliciously or anything like that, but I said long ago if we can't build a culture where we build each other up and credit each other's ideas...well...



It stands to reason that if a website could have legal trouble over promoting or hosting pirated software or music, then certainly this would apply to other forms of protected IP. I don't think anyone here with protected work would consider hurting the community in this way. I certainly hope not...
Sorta Reassuring..
 

Bangle

Cable-Tie Ninja
Apr 12, 2018
147
112
It is certainly possible that I am missing some deleted posts, but the overwhelming criticism I’ve seen pointed out the factual and overwhelming similarities between the Steck and the Ghost. I have not seen anything that I would consider shit posting, thread jacking, etc.




Well what I saw were multiple warnings about discussing the clone issue. I even saw a mod edit that said to stop discussing “the clone bs.” Perhaps there’s missing context now but it seemed a tad much.




Clearly the stackable part of the case is not part of the conversation here. No one claims Louqe is the only company that can have expansion chambers. Saying that is the main issue is a huge stretch.

I would welcome your reply to my argument here that details exactly why it is a direct derivative. So far I haven’t seen any specific reasons that would convince me otherwise.
Not sure if the image link of a screen capture below will work.


Can't really remember what I said (in my deleted post) about the [Insert case name] in the Louqe thread, ultimately if it was offensive then i apologize. But essentially the time line was:

1. We heard the shipping on the case was delayed, many comments were made, including if there where alternatives.

2. Member post link to [insert case name].

3. Another member comments - probably on how much they thought [insert case name] was a rip-off etc.

4. I wade in with my thoughts on the issue of cloning.

5. Other member has post deleted. I have my post deleted.

6. I post about having my message deleted.

7. I get reprimanded in the thread directly.

All of the above took place on the Louqe forum page, and I (including the other member as far as i'm aware) didn't go looking in [insert case name] forum to troll about it being a ....etc. To be fair I probably shouldn't have said...'Will I get another 48hr ban?' This was meant to be a tongue and cheek comment, and i apologize if this was goading. Nothing was being hijacked, it was just two forum members comment on a post (Point 2).

I understand the pressure admin have and appreciate the hard work put into keeping things running smoothly; and the good work being done by all. But the response was a bit harsh, in my opinion.

Anyway, no hard feelings.

I did take the admin's advice and Louqe have emailed me back regarding IP.
 
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whatanoob

Caliper Novice
Jun 18, 2018
31
40
And the first post is literally the admin’s response, so it appears they and many others see the wisdom in that approach.
Alright you got me there. I had just come back from work and sort of skimmed through the thread, not realising that the official mod stance was in the first post, I just sort of assumed it was the usual reminder post to keep things civil and such. Still, not a response to this case as I was hoping for, but now I know for sure there's not gonna be one, and the reasons for not doing so.

The reason I specified that example is that on sfflab there is money being sent to thru that site for direct purchase from a “builder”. In my opinion, while many consumers and “builders” meet here it’s not a storefront like eBay, amazon, sfflab, etc. There is no money sent to sff. A marketplace is different from a conversational/news forum. You did not buy a case on small form factor. You may have met up with someone who could sell you one here though, as I have a few times.
Here's the thing though, isn't that just overly relying on technicalities? By that logic, eBay is not a marketplace either, because all it does is connect you to someone who can sell you a product that you want, and the transactions are handled by PayPal.

I get it, the CC&D sub-forum is not supposed to be a marketplace, it's just supposed to be a place to discuss projects. However, when I started looking for a small form factor case, I came to the small form factor forum, browsed a bunch of projects, and ended up ordering one of them. Sure, the purchase itself was done in another website, but is that really relevant?
If someone asks me "where did you buy that case?", I'll reply "In the Small Form Factor Forum.".
My point being: I used it as a marketplace, and a lot of other people did too, buyers and sellers. I mean, we have a prime example that's very relevant right now - the Steck creator seems to have used this forum almost exclusively as a marketplace. So if people use it as a marketplace, then it is, at least partly, a marketplace, regardless of whether or not the admins ever wanted it to be.

If the administration really wanted to keep the forum from being used as a marketplace, they would need to have some rules in place, such as the project creator not being allowed to link ways to buy their finished product. But they don't, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just that, as the saying goes, "with great power comes great responsibility". Unless you're extremely pessimistic about the future of SFFPCs, we can assume that there will be a more people just like me coming here to shop for their first SFF case.

So the thing that keeps being reiterated about this being simply a place to discuss all things SFF ends up coming off as a bit of a cop out. Hell, I would certainly not be able to moderate this forum as a hobby, let alone regulate a marketplace. So I understand why you guys keep reiterating that, but to me it just seems like you're lying to yourselves, because (and again, I understand why) no one is willing to assume the greater responsibility that would come from admitting that this forum is not only a place for discussion, but also a marketplace.

The fact is:
  • Someone created a project thread here with a design pretty much identical to a popular project nearing its production stage.
  • Feedback was offered with ways to differentiate it.
  • The creator ignored that feedback and continued on with the prototyping.
  • The case's first batch is about to be sold.
To be clear, I don't know him at all. I certainly do not know his intentions. For all I know, he could be an absolutely amazing individual.
However, let's say I am an ill-intentioned individual, who sees the great demand for the LOUQE Ghost S1 as an opportunity to profit off of their inability to produce enough units for everyone, as well as do it on time. I would have gone to the place where it was developed, where I'm sure I would find a lot of people who also wanted one, but missed the train, as well as some LOUQE customers frustrated with the delays. And I would have done the exact same that the Steck creator did. And I would have got away with it.

If I were an original creator, I would like to trust this community to have my back in these matters, but, knowing that such a thing could happen to me, I wouldn't be able to.

Now if you guys don't see this as a big problem, then I don't know what else to say (keep in mind I'm not really talking about a solution, I would just like the problem to be acknowledged), I guess we just don't see eye to eye. I'll just go back to lurking here like I've been doing most of the time, and hopefully this situation will be handled correctly by all these people in charge, who most certainly know better than me, and maybe I'm just overdramatizing the situation.