Chuck Yeager Sues Airbus For Mentioning That Chuck Yeager Broke The Sound Barrier

from the yeager-bomb dept

When it comes to intellectual property, the culture of ownership has grown so large that it threatens to consume itself. Still, while we have an overly permissive USPTO and European trademark offices that facilitate this insane notion that all language is meant to be owned, there are still, blessedly, some rules. One of those rules is that, on the topic of trademark and publicity rights, people and companies are allowed to state facts. It is not infringing on anyone’s rights to state such facts. That is all the more the case when the facts in question are historical facts.

Someone might want to fill in famed Air Force pilot Chuck Yeager on all of the above, as he’s decided to sue Airbus over marketing material that mentions his signature historical achievement.

In a complaint filed on Wednesday, the 96-year-old Yeager objected to a June 2017 promotional piece on Airbus’ website, touting its plan to make the Airbus Racer a fast and cost-effective way to fly.

The piece quoted Guillaume Faury, chief executive of Airbus Helicopters, as saying: “Seventy years ago, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier,” and Airbus was now “trying to break the cost barrier. It cannot be ‘speed at any cost.'”

Yeager accused Airbus of trademark infringement and taking away his right of publicity through “fraudulent” conduct, where it deceived the public into believing he endorsed it.

This is almost certainly nonsense. Having a marketing/PR piece on the Airbus website that simply quotes an Airbus executive stating the fact that Yeager broke the sound barrier is definitely not trademark infringement, is almost certainly not a violation of publicity rights, and doesn’t strike me as indicating any kind of endorsement by Yeager himself. It’s just stating a fact.

The complaint itself is astounding for how incredibly weak it appears to be. The lawyer is Lincoln Bandlow, who you may recall as a somewhat notorious copyright troll who recently left his big prestigious law firm after a judge sanctioned him for some of his actions in the various copyright trolling cases was involved in. Bandlow’s career seems to have taken a dip, as the former lawyer for John McCain is now apparently in a position of filing obviously questionable lawsuits because someone mentioned a fact. This is a far cry from when he positioned himself as a supporter of free speech in fighting back against a lawsuit filed against John McCain. In that case Bandlow argued that it was ridiculous to argue John McCain’s use of a Jackson Browne song was considered an endorsement under publicity rights law. Yet here, he’s laughably insisting that merely mentioning a historical fact “Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier,” is a publicity rights violation? How low has Bandlow sunk?

The case is also odd in other ways. It presents the fact that Airbus once refused Yeager’s ridiculous demand for $1 million to use his name in press releases as some sort of evidence against Airbus. But all that really suggests is that after Airbus laughed off Yeager’s ridiculous cash grab, it later found a way to mention him in a manner that was completely within its 1st Amendment rights — quoting a factual statement. The old Lincoln Bandlow, the one who claimed to support the 1st Amendment, would have applauded that.

Stating a historical fact, even if it’s in marketing material, is still stating a historical fact. Chuck Yeager may be an American hero, but that doesn’t mean anyone has to pay him for mentioning his name and his accomplishments. Indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Airbus file an anti-SLAPP complaint against Yeager, meaning that in the end Yeager may end up having to pay Airbus’ legal fees.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,
Companies: airbus

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Chuck Yeager Sues Airbus For Mentioning That Chuck Yeager Broke The Sound Barrier”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Winston Churchill endorses this commentor says:

FOREIGN CORPORATION Airbus does NOT have "1st Amendment rights".

72-point period.

No foreign corporation can have any right to even slightly use Yeager’s name, certainly not for any commercial benefit.

Sheesh. Going on of absurdities and then slipping double falsehood in!

From where but globalism stems Techdirt’s insistence that foreigners have Rights in the US? And at same time promoting "corporate personhood"! Roundly rejected by everyone except masnicks and romneys? I never see that notion asserted anywhere but here. Others at least have the sense to know saying it is counter-productive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: FOREIGN CORPORATION Airbus does NOT have "1st Amendment righ

Corporations were enshrined in the founding documents of the US. I’m a bit Jeffersonian with regards to corporations, but they are a core fact of the States.

The First Amendment: These are human rights, it doesn’t matter where you are from, or whether you are a corporation. But never mind that, anyone can use your name factually. Chuck is fucked with that lawsuit, full stop.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: FOREIGN CORPORATION Airbus does NOT have "1st Amendment

No he’s not. This corporation may win by dragging it out until costs are prohibitive for him, but in the end if Airbus wants to use his name in their advertising campain, they will have to pay. That is logic guiding that reasoning, but if left to a judge it may be anything but logic that guides a decision.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: FOREIGN CORPORATION Airbus does NOT have "1st Amendm

So do companies that mention how Neil Armstrong was the first man on the Moon in their ads have to pay him (or his estate) for the privilege of mentioning his name in a statement of historical fact?

I don’t think you understand how this works. Anyone can state any historical fact for any purpose without being held liable for that particular statement. So long as there’s no explicit or implied statement that he’s endorsing the company or some product or service, and the fact is true and not considered “obscene”, that statement is absolutely protected by the First Amendment, even if it is made for commercial purposes.

Dan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: FOREIGN CORPORATION Airbus does NOT have "1st Amendm

I don’t believe you are correct with stating illegal aliens have US Constitutional Rights.

Not that it matters to the subject of this post (because Airbus is legally present in the United states), but the Supreme Court disagrees with you. See, e.g., Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982) ("The illegal aliens who are plaintiffs in these cases challenging the statute may claim the benefit of the Equal Protection Clause"), as well as earlier decisions cited there holding that the Due Process clause also protects illegal aliens. This is particularly significant because it’s the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment that results in the Bill of Rights applying to the states as well as the Federal Government.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: FOREIGN CORPORATION Airbus does NOT have "1st Amendment righ

From where but globalism stems Techdirt’s insistence that foreigners have Rights in the US?

How about the Supreme Court? There are several cases that specifically state that even non-citizens in the US have rights within the US, whether they are here legally or illegally. The main difference with rights is that citizens can vote and non-citizens can’t. There are some other differences, but to say that foreigners have no rights in the US is complete nonsense.

And at same time promoting "corporate personhood"! Roundly rejected by everyone except masnicks and romneys? I never see that notion asserted anywhere but here. Others at least have the sense to know saying it is counter-productive.

Again, the Supreme Court has stated that corporations have rights similar to that of persons. Whether you think the Supreme Court’s decisions on this front were good or reasonable is immaterial. If they say that’s the law, then for all practical and legal purposes, that’s the law until either the legislature or the Supreme Court itself overrules that decision.

The fact that you have never heard anyone else say it doesn’t change the fact that it’s true. It doesn’t even prove that no one else says it. Lots of people, rich or not, say it. That’s why the term exists! It is a concept people needed a term for, and that’s what they came up with.

Anonymous Coward says:

You got to give it to Chuck.. strapping himself into some tin can and taking it for a spin past Mach1, "yeehaw!" Something about that flying by the seat of your pants not knowing if your bird is going to hold together really inspires the heck out of me! Way to go Chuck Yeager. You are an America hero, a world class pilot extraordinare and author. Thank you for your dedication.

Hugo S Cunningham (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I admire the Chuck Yeager of Tom Wolfe’s book and Yeager’s autobiography, but he has not aged well. He is alienated from his own children, and in 2015 was declared incompetent to participate in a trial:

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Who specifically is being disrespected? And in what way are they being disrespected?

The closest thing to disrespect from this company here is that they wouldn’t pay Yeager $1 million dollars to use his name, and then used his name in a statement of historical fact that, IMO, is in no way disrespectful. And I don’t even see how that is disrespectful.

Also, if you’re expecting Techdirt to be particularly disrespectful, then you’re clearly new here.

Anonymous Coward says:

This doesn’t surprise me in the least. I used to work for a company that hosted Yeager’s website (no idea if they still do). We dared point out in one of our blog posts, "Hey, check out these websites we host that are doing cool things with WordPress!" that Yeager’s website was a cool WordPress site that we hosted.

Cue the Yeagers flipping out at us for doing various things with the Yeager name and their website without their permission, in much the same way as this lawsuit. Although it never got to the point of a lawsuit in our case because my old company threw a bunch of free stuff at them to settle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

your company set a precedent for Chuck to follow.

No argument here. My old company sets a ton of bad precedent; their SOP was "deny everything unless they threaten to sue, then settle."

Maybe Chuck wants free air fare for his family as a way to make amends.

IIRC it wasn’t Chuck himself that had the issue. It was someone else associated with him.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Websites using clients' names and links, etc.

My old company didn’t design the site, they just hosted it (their web design service sucked big time so if they had designed it, there’s no way it would have ever been on a "cool wordpress site" list).

The blog post didn’t even imply any sort of endorsement. It was simply several cases of "We host this site. It is doing nifty things with WordPress. You should check it out." of which Yeager’s site happened to be one.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Websites using clients' names and links, etc.

Thank you for the update. We both agree that Yeager’s response was ridiculous. As for the hosting angle, if he’s using the hosting service, he flippin’ well approves of it. I believe we can agree on that, too.

If you can’t let people know who your clients are in case they charge you for mentioning their names without consent, it’s not worth the hassle of taking their business, IMHO. Mind you, I daresay you can add it into TOS or something. Is this something web hosting and design companies will have to do going forward?

Anonymous Coward says:

America the land of the free, home of free speech,
stating a fact is not copyright infringment,
its made worse in that in order to break the sound barrier he used a plane paid for by the tax payer and funded by tax payer research in military jet technology ,
and now he seeks to sue some company simply for mentioning his name?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

He was the first man with the biggest cahonies to beat the sound barrier. The airbus company is using his name not just the feat in their advertising sales pitch. They have to pay to play like anyone else. Its not just using an historic event to sell tickets, they’re using the name of Chuck Yeager in a sneaky way that is likened to endorsing without permission. They are inferring into the sub-conscience of the public so as to draw an instantaneous assimulation for their company to Yeager and Mach1 flight.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It is being used here in a multinational corporate advertisement not a term paper. Chuck Yeager has established his name as a Brand. It is protected. Advertising has a huge budget for these corporate public relation endeavors and Chuck knows it. Which one of you here wouldn’t go after Airbus in this instance? Oh sure!

bhull242 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

How the historical fact is being used is completely irrelevant. Whether it’s commercial or non-profit, advertising or literature, public or private, respectfully or disparagingly, corporation or human being, citizen, legal resident, or illegal immigrant, etc., the fact is that literally anyone can state any historical fact in any context for any purpose within the U.S. without having to pay anyone a dime.

If you see an ad that talks about the historical achievements of, say, Einstein or Amelia Earhart (which is pretty common), no one thinks that either Einstein or Earhart (or their respective estates) has endorsed the ad, the company, or whatever product(s) and/or service(s) are being advertised. It’s just a rhetorical device that is extremely common in advertising and completely legal without a license, endorsement, or permission from anyone the historical fact is about.

Now, if they showed an ad that apparently showed Yeager saying something about the company or its products/services, or if it said something that clearly says that Yeager endorses them, then they may have a problem. This isn’t one of those cases.

Also, as far as trademark is concerned, this would clearly fall under nominative fair use, which again applies in both, say, a term paper as well as a corporate advertisement. And since US trademark law has a fee shifting provision for frivolous or otherwise exceptional cases, which this seems to be, I wouldn’t risk having to pay the other side’s legal fees in a case that I know I probably can’t or won’t win. Maybe I’d go for the publicity claim, but even then I’d have to pay for the lawsuit itself. Not to mention that, since that would be a state law claim, I might have to worry about the state’s anti-SLAPP law, depending on the state, which may have a fee-shifting provision.

So no, I wouldn’t go after Airbus. Too much risk and too little chance of prevailing.

Dan says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It is being used here in a multinational corporate advertisement not a term paper.

…and so what if it is? What law (with citations) gives him the right to prevent someone else from stating a historical fact which includes his name? And particularly when that historical fact involved his actions as a government employee, on government time, flying a government aircraft.

As a point of comparison, otherwise-copyrightable works created by (federal) government employees in the course of their official duties are, as a matter of law, in the public domain–they don’t get to personally profit from these works, regardless of how innovative they are. The same principle should apply to cases like this (note that I’m saying "should"; to my knowledge this isn’t the law at this time).

Chuck Yeager has established his name as a Brand. It is protected.

Nobody’s name is protected in such a way that he can prevent others from using it to state historical facts.

Which one of you here wouldn’t go after Airbus in this instance? Oh sure!

Well, Airbus could change the ad copy to "Seventy years ago, some asshole who sued us for mentioning his name broke the sound barrier." Problem solved. See also Apple’s run-in with Carl Sagan, aka butt-head astronomer.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Doesn’t matter if it’s “a very low blow” (What does that even mean in this context?); U.S. law doesn’t require anyone making a statement of historical fact—even in an advertisement—to confer with or pay the person who made that historical fact. Much like how publicly known historical facts cannot be copyrighted, trademarked, defamatory, a trade secret, an invasion of privacy, etc., they cannot violate the publicity right. It’s one of the most fundamental aspects of freedom of speech, and it doesn’t matter whether the use was commercial or not.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

All words are made up. And while there is a word to define “the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one’s own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good” — conscience — the concept of a “sub-conscience” doesn’t exist. (If it does somehow exist, I’m not finding anything about it.) What you wanted was a word that correctly denotes “the mental activities just below the threshold of consciousness” — which is subconscious.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

Anyone can go into wiki and edit stuff. Who is to say what you read there hasn’t been edited fifteen time? At least with my massive 500,000 english word dictionary, it was correct at production time. And I will bet that it has conscience and sub-conscience in it. Remember this when I come back in a year with confirmation.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12

You can look up the definitions of words in basically every major English dictionary through their dedicated websites. If you can’t find “sub-conscience” on, the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the Cambridge dictionary, or the Oxford-powered Lexico dictionary, you’re not going to find it in any print dictionary.

And, per usual, I’ll remind you that pretending to be stupid and actually being stupid are indistinguishable.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

It takes a year for you to find your dictionary?

At any rate, subconscious is both a noun and an adjective. And since conscious is not at all the same as or similar to conscience, there is no reason to believe that sub-conscience—even if it is a word, and I can find no evidence suggesting it is, and you provide to reason to believe it is—it would not be synonymous with subconscious. In fact, it would actually be more closely related to the word conscience. And I can’t find any concept that would relate to the combination of the root word “conscience” with the prefix “sub-”.

And then there’s this gem:

Anyone can go into wiki and edit stuff. Who is to say what you read there hasn’t been edited fifteen time?

Ummm, you were the only one who mentioned wikis here, and there are a lot of online dictionaries that don’t operate like wikis do. But since you asked, when it comes to Wiktionary, that really only questions redirects, definitions, pronunciations, or origins. It’s a completely different matter when a word doesn’t show up at all. And even if there may be some issues with the precise definitions given, they are at least reasonably close to what my physical copy of a dictionary says, as well as what the first several online dictionaries I could find say. I highly doubt that they’re all wrong.

The main issue with using Wikipedia as a source is when using it in an official paper or something or when you rely on it too much too religiously (which is true for any source). It’s actually pretty reliable for most things, especially the kind of things that are relatively simple or are commonly viewed. Dismissing wikis as a source out of hand in a comments section is just dumb and lazy, especially if you can’t give a better alternative. Your memory of what a dictionary we don’t know and you can’t find once said is not convincing, especially since you can’t give any details.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

I am absolutely startled that you have never heard of the word, "conscience?" Maybe you are pronouncing it in your mind wrong and that is throwing you off. Maybe sub-conscience is no longer used in formal english, but if you have conscience, you have sub-conscience. My largest dictionary is an Oxford and its at least 60 years old but still amazing. Words like,’lawsy’, not ‘lousy’, but antiquated now was spoken by my Great Grandmother and Grandmother. ‘Duck’ described a sweet woman and many more not spoken anymore. This new generation sadly has had to endure the political correctness that has flooded our country by these politicians. Always pushing our country into their agenda corporitizing America, twisting law enforcement into militarization. Our country’s very credit rating impossibly taking a dive. Words are easy to erase. The fact that they rewrite history often doesn’t even surprise me anymore. They are having a freeforall with our country, changing the value of everything in the face of obscene debt with our enemies.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:14 Re:

Um, “conscience” is a word, but “sub-conscience” is not. I don’t know where you got the idea that I said that “conscience” is not a word; I thought I made it crystal clear that it is. I did say that the fact that “conscience”, “conscious”, and “subconscious” are words does not mean that “sub-conscience” is a word. Two words can share a root but not be able to be modified by the same prefixes or suffixes.

Most importantly, even if it is a word, it doesn’t mean what you originally said it meant (the noun form of “subconscious”), since subconscious can be used as a noun without modification and there is no similar connection between “conscious” and “conscience”. (Also, it would not be hyphenated.)

At any rate, I’ve gone through dozens of dictionaries—printed and online—trying to find “subconscience” or “sub-conscience”, only to fail. Since I can’t think of a plausible definition for “sub-conscience” that makes sense, I’d’ve been more surprised if I had. I have found “conscious”, “conscience”, and “subconscious”, and I found evidence that “subconscious” can be used as a noun. I even looked outside of dictionaries, but I still can’t find evidence that it was used outside of obvious spelling errors. And I don’t have the burden of proof. You’re making the positive claim, so you need to provide verifiable evidence that you’re right if you want to persuade anyone.

You’re complaining a lot about political correctness supposedly erasing words, but you offer no explanation as to what could possibly be politically incorrect about “sub-conscience”, which makes that topic completely irrelevant here. And neither political correctness nor anything else being discussed here have anything to do with corporatizing America, police militarization, the country’s (supposed) falling credit rating (whatever that means), or the country’s obscene debt. In fact, I’m pretty sure the people most obsessed with imposing PC culture are also opposed to police militarization and corporate America. But that doesn’t even matter because they’re unrelated to each other.

Yes, the English language changes over time, as do most languages. Some words are added, some gain new meanings, some have their meanings change, some lose old meanings, and some fall out of use altogether. There is nothing wrong with this, but more importantly, you haven’t given us sufficient evidence that “sub-conscience” is or has ever been a word that has ever been used. I mentioned that I cannot conceive of a concept for which “sub-conscience” would be defined, so I am skeptical that the term ever existed.

You have cited a 60+-year-old Oxford dictionary that you haven’t used in a long time and would take years for you to find for the proposition that the word exists. There are many reasons this is less than convincing.

First, there are many dictionaries available, online and offline, that you could use, yet you refuse. Online ones are readily available—not all of which operate like Wikipedia, which is still more reliable than you give it credit for—and if those aren’t enough, I’m sure there’s a library with a dictionary you could use. Printed dictionaries rarely remove words entirely; they’ll generally add qualifiers like “archaic” or “dated” to show that a word or meaning isn’t part of the modern vernacular, things like “slang” for improper/informal terms and (occasionally) spellings, or things like “vulgar” if it’s offensive or, sometimes, politically incorrect. Plus, dictionaries are generally descriptivist, so political correctness is rarely a significant factor in deciding which words to include or whether to add qualifiers. Words are generally only removed if the reason for their inclusion was erroneous (c.f. “dord”). I can find quite a few terms that are no longer part of the modern vernacular or that are not part of formal English in all sorts of online and printed dictionaries.

Second, a 60+-year-old dictionary is definitely out-of-date, and unless you still use “duck” to mean a “sweet woman”, that doesn’t explain why you’d use such an old dictionary to determine words for use in modern conversations or their modern definitions. Useful for historical reference or as a curiousity? Sure. Useful in an argument about what is or isn’t a word while commenting on the internet? Not so much.

Third, with such an old, printed dictionary, it’s hard for anyone to verify whether this is true or not. Most people don’t have 60+-year-old Oxford dictionaries lying around or even in their local libraries. Heck, by your own admission, you currently lack ready access to that dictionary. For all we know, you could be making it all up. At the very least, you could give us an actual definition for us to reverse-search online, or an example of a dictionary people are more likely to be able to access, but you refuse. You apparently won’t even try to use online resources out of snobbishness or distrust, but if they did have “sub-conscience”, that would be fairly convincing evidence in your favor. That you can’t or won’t gives us reason to doubt.

Finally, you’re relying on your memory of what this old dictionary supposedly said. But memory is a fickle thing. Are you familiar with the Mandela effect? Lots of people were sure he died while in prison when his death was actually within the past couple of decades (I forget the exact year) after he left his elected office as President of South Africa and long after he left prison. It applies to other things too. I and many others have strong memories of a children’s book series being called “The Berenstein Bears” (with an e like “Einstein“), but it’s actually called “The Berenstain Bears” (with an a like “stain”). Despite the fact that I now know how it’s actually spelled and having seen countless pieces of irrefutable evidence that my memory was simply wrong, I can still clearly remember that the books were called “The Berenstein Bears” with an e. Human memory simply isn’t that reliable. It’s entirely plausible that you have a distinct memory of reading that 60+-year-old Oxford dictionary and finding “sub-conscience” or “subconscience” in there. However, your memory could very well be playing tricks on you. Maybe you saw “subconscious” and are simply remembering it wrong. I don’t know. But I’m not about to rely on what you say you remember once reading in a more-than-half-a-century-old dictionary that you say you can’t find and that I can’t readily look up myself, especially when I have good reason to doubt it and you won’t even give a definition for it.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:15 Just give it up already

I know this is rich coming from a guy who is often pedantic and stubborn and who just wrote several long comments in this thread alone, but you really should learn to know when to quit.

This all started when Stephen T. Stone decided that, since a lot of other people had already done a good job tearing the substance of your argument apart, he’d simply nitpick a few spelling/usage issues with your original comment and leave it at that.

You had many options. You could’ve ignored him. You could’ve complained that he was nitpicking and that it doesn’t matter. You could’ve apologized for the error and/or thanked him for pointing it out. It wasn’t a big deal, Stephen wasn’t making it out to be a big deal, and any of those options would’ve been reasonable and understandable.

Instead, you chose to argue with Stephen, myself, and others that “sub-conscience” is, in fact, a word, even after it became clear that no one else had ever seen or heard the term outside of an error and never from a dictionary or other authoritative source. When asked, you never gave a definition (although originally you suggested that it was the noun form of “subconscious”, which is wrong and inconsistent with your later assertion that “if you have conscience, you have sub-conscience” (which isn’t a great example of good grammar, either; add some articles like “a” or “the”)), and your only source has been a 60+-year-old Oxford dictionary (which took days for you to specify any of that) that you last read a long time ago and could take a year or more for you to find again. No one has backed you up on any of this thus far, and you have only shown stubbornness, snobbishness towards online dictionaries, and further evidence that spelling and grammar aren’t your strong suit (see aforementioned quote and “anonimous”).

You also decided to shit on wikis, political correctness, and a number of completely unrelated concepts (the other two were only loosely tangentially related as being related to online resources and language, respectively). I still have no idea why. I mean, I get why you have a problem with these things, and I even agree with you on some of them at least to some extent, but they have nothing to do with anything anyone said in this thread, in the article, or in this comment section.

And what did you get for pushing this pointless issue? Further ridicule from more sources and no support. Even if you’re right, is it still worth pushing this topic anymore? Unless you can give us a specific source we can find ourselves or a definition we can work from, I see no further merit to this discussion. It was pretty dumb to begin with, but any point you may have had has been lost or beaten to death.

Unless and until you give me something more to work with, something with substance that you haven’t clearly said already, I don’t think I’ll respond to any further comments in this particular thread. Unless and until you can either find that dictionary, find some other source(s) that we can look up ourselves, or concede the point or that you cannot prove your point, I suggest you do the same.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

I’m sorry, but I just don’t go around calling people dumbasses. Its a word that only comes up once a year at Techdirt. If its a word that some dumb ass combined two completely seperate words to form a single word that describes the same thing, it was probably someone who was in a hurry to call someone a dumb ass.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

FTR, I was making a bit of a joke. I rarely use the terms “ass” or “dumbass” myself, but I couldn’t pass up the obvious pun.

That said, there is a small difference. With “dumb ass”, I was calling you an ass (i.e. an “asshole” or “jerk”) who is also dumb. “Dumbass” is more just saying that you’re dumb and maybe also an ass, but the latter is at most implied. In other words, “dumb ass” is synonymous with “stupid jerk”, while “dumbass” is synonymous with “idiot”.

A lot of compound words start with people taking two separate terms and combining them into one term that, at least initially, means the same thing as the two words separately, even if the uses later diverge. See “any more” vs. “anymore”, among others. That’s how language evolves.

Annonymouse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Due to the nature and definition of conscience I would equate the sub modifiers relationship to the root word as similar to par and subpar.
So below the level of conscience.
As far as I know, and my Googlefu is weak at digging out usefultidbits, there is only a zero value and nothing in the negatives. Mind there is the realm of imaginary numbers, though the perview of political budgets, I stay well away from those since college.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

There is no one to pay for anything, and no structure at all by which to ask or send payment.

Further, Chuck is one of thousands of test pilots. He happened to get the assignment. Any other could have done it as well. Beyond that, he didn’t design or build the damn thing that actually did the sound-barrier breaking. So, Chuck has been profiting off of US taxpayer dollars from what he was lucky enough to be allowed to do. He should be hanged or something, right?

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The fact that Yeager was the first pilot was largely luck. He was hardly the only member of the Air Force able and willing to fly the plane, which was designed and built by a number of people, none of whom were Yeager or doing so because Yeager told them to.

And they would’ve been stupid to fly multiple supersonic vehicles simultaneously, so someone had to go first. That “someone” just so happened to be Yeager.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

First, that’s part of ethics, not law. We’re not discussing ethics here. The closest equivalent to plagiarism in law would be copyright infringement, but historical facts can’t be covered by copyright. Even if the company was plagiarizing in this instance, there’s nothing illegal or with legal repercussions about that.

Also, that had nothing to do with what I said (which was noting that Yeager’s achievement was partly luck and that everyone else wasn’t merely theorizing what would happen the whole time), unless you’re talking about what I said, which I know because Yeager is that famous (like how I know that Neil Armstrong was the first man on the Moon, I couldn’t tell you where I first heard that because I can’t remember actually learning it), several others said it, and/or it’s common sense. I didn’t quote or paraphrase any particular source. Plus, this is a comment section; I don’t think formal citation rules apply outside of copyleft stuff or Creative Commons or something. I certainly didn’t rewrite something anyone else said verbatim.

Finally, stating a well-known historical fact in a commercial for your company (or in a comment) is not plagiarism. Plagiarism is specifically copying something recorded in a specific medium (usually something typed or written), more or less verbatim, and passing it off as your own work for the same purpose without attribution. That’s not what this is. If it came from an autobiography, then it’s not for the same purpose (reporting information vs. advertising).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Hypothesizing, maybe, much in the same way there are always some people to hypothesize that atomic bombs would burn the whole atmosphere or the LHC would make black holes that swallow the planet. Regardless, so what? Whether he is an adrenaline junkie or whatever his motivations, there are millions of people who do risky shit all the time.

And no, my school did not "teach me that education", whatever the fuck that means, regarding whichever part of what i wrote.

Fuck, Yeager isn’t even the only guy at that time to be testing inventions. Lots of guys fucking well died.

And none of this has any bearing on whether someone can mention Chuck. Although i am increasingly of the opinion that no one ever mention him again.

Anonymous Coward says:

America the land of the free, home of free speech,
stating a fact is not copyright infringment,
its made worse in that in order to break the sound barrier he used a plane paid for by the tax payer and funded by tax payer research in military jet technology ,
and now he seeks to sue some company simply for mentioning his name ?
There are many debates on tech forums about apple vs android,
who was the best tech ceo,etc
i don,t see apple or steve job,s family suing reddit or asking for a payment every time someone mentions steve jobs,

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Military funding is not tax payer funds."

Interesting statement there, care to back that up with supporting evidence?
I realize that wars are not part of the budget and therefore anyone who wants to balance the budget is being silly, but the military budget is met via use of tax revenue.
From where do you think the funding comes from? Space aliens?

"Remember the government prints its own money before they tax it 1000 times over."

Umm – ok, I’ll try to remember that.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Still no evidence, huh? How exactly are you crowing about winning when what you said did not even remotely address anything the other AC said or asked.

The only thing you did say wasn’t supported by any evidence either, and it doesn’t prove that, in the here and now, military spending comes from anywhere other than tax revenue (outside of some war-related spending, which does not include the Pentagon). Based on the budgets passed by Congress, at the very least some of the military’s funds comes from tax revenue.

Do you have any actual, verifiable evidence for any of your claims here?

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

What claim did I make that you want evidence for? I’m pretty sure I just asked you for evidence for your claim. I suppose I did mention the congressional budgets, but considering the fact that they always include some military spending, I have no reason to believe otherwise. Just look the most recent spending bill up.

If you have no evidence, then we have no reason to believe a claim that seems absurd on its face. And based on your other response, you seem to be admitting that you have no evidence, so why should I believe you.

FTR, I’m not saying there’s no corruption in our government. I’m just saying that this specific allegation of corruption is incredible, especially on the scale you’re claiming. I also find it suspicious that you gave fairly precise numbers for how much spending goes to the Church of England and how much goes to the Vatican, despite not being able to give a source for those numbers.

You had to get the idea from somewhere. What is your reasoning behind your claim?

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I’m not asking for any particular kind of evidence, though it should be independently verifiable. But even if I remove that as a requirement, you haven’t given any evidence for your claim at all, nor any justification for where your claims even came from.

If you didn’t see them with their checkbooks or whatever (which wouldn’t convince me anyway since I need more than the sayso of an anonymous stranger on the internet to believe something this crazy), then you must’ve heard or read this idea from somewhere if you genuinely believe it to be true. As a start, you could tell us what source you got your info from, and maybe we can work from there. It may not be sufficient proof of your claims, but even that would be more than what you’ve given us and wouldn’t add additional unsupported claims to your argument.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If that’s the case, funding would be moot. But i don’t see the military-industrial complex as an actual single entity mining, growing, and building all it’s own shit. Despite ridiculously over-funding bad ideas and activities, they are part of a larger economy where money is generated by people working and creating value, regardless as to the extra-economic estimations one may have about that value. Any real "pulling money from thin air" is done by the Holy Trading Markets and their Speculators. Which is why everything has to go into the shitter occasionally.

P.S., if the gov is printing so much cash willy-nilly. maybe they should fucking pay off their debts, especially to holders in places like China. Might be of strategic value. Just a thought.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I never said I did not know about dictionaries on the internet, but such a movement exists to remove everything that isn’t politically correct that has me scratching my head along with exzema about wanting to trust what I read researching, but never would I stake a total stranger’s life on it.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

FTR, it’s this:

[W]hat you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Huh? First of all, I can find plenty of non-PC terms on plenty of online dictionaries.

Second, nothing being discussed here has anything to do with PC culture or could be considered even remotely politically incorrect.

Third, nothing being discussed here is a matter of life or death, so we don’t need our sources to be that reliable. There are lots of things that are completely reliable that I still wouldn’t rely on in a life-or-death matter, but here the stakes aren’t that high.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Well if that's how he wants it...

If so much as mentioning the man is enough for him to demand payment it seems a suitable response would be to simply refuse to do so.


In this case they could simple change the ad to something along the lines of ‘"Seventy years ago the sound barrier was broken," and Airbus was now "trying to break the cost barrier. It cannot be ‘speed at any cost.’"

No mention of who did it, no name given, simply ‘X event happened’ and nothing more. If he demands to be paid any time his name is mentioned then not doing so would seem to nicely nip the problem in the bud, and if that means his accomplishment fades from history because no-one attaches his name to it that’s just too bad and entirely his fault.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well if that's how he wants it...

Chuck Yeager is still a household name! He is an icon and it seems like a new generation of people who have done nothing to stake their claim in the annals of the history books begrudge him for protecting his name, his Brand and his many claims to fame now simply because he is suing Airbus for using his name and historic accomplishment in their upcoming corporate commercial flights advertising. Wow.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

TBH, I’ve never understood how even having a celebrity endorse your product works, and I’m quite skeptical regarding how effective some forms of advertising are.

But even that’s a far cry from whether simply mentioning a household name has a substantial impact on your success. Particularly where, as here, the use is only tangentially related to the specifics of the ad, which is about pricing for flights.

It also doesn’t change the fact that it’s completely irrelevant to whether Yeager has a non-frivolous case here. Neil Armstrong is also a household name, but even if merely mentioning his name was able to substantially increase sales and/or awareness of your brand (which is itself questionable), he still wouldn’t be entitled to anything if all that was said about him was that he was the first to walk on the Moon.

That’s not how trademark or right of publicity works. Stating a historical fact cannot infringe on trademark or right of publicity, even if doing so provides commercial benefits for the speaker. As such, whether or not Yeager is a household name is completely irrelevant to this discussion.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Assuming I don’t already use that product, I’d actually be less inclined to purchase something endorsed by a celebrity (or anyone else for that matter) if I know they’re paid for it because then I don’t trust the endorsement as genuine. An unpaid celebrity (non-expert) endorsement influences my decision as much as an unpaid average-customer endorsement does. An unpaid non-endorsement by anyone doesn’t influence my decisions at all (excluding certain expert opinions).

You may note a running theme here: paid-for endorsements or non-endorsements from anyone have an inverse effect on my purchasing decision if it has any effect at all. Regardless of whether the opinion is an endorsement or nonendorsement or is paid or non-paid, whether the opinion comes from a celebrity or an average citizen has no impact whatsoever on how I judge that opinion—other than that I am more likely to assume that the celebrity is being paid and judge accordingly. I make an exception for unpaid expert opinions on issues relevant to their expertise, but that’s not the case here.

A non-paid celebrity non-endorsement—in this context, the non-endorsement means not giving a positive opinion without being paid for it, not giving a negative opinion—has zero impact on my purchasing decision whatsoever, although this lawsuit substantially increased my awareness of Airbus, which I previously had never heard of, and it doesn’t make me think of them less favorably. Honestly, endorsements in ads don’t really play a major role in my purchasing decisions at all. It’s more of an “all else being equal” sort of factor.

It’s also, as I keep saying, completely irrelevant here, where we’re talking about legal issues. That analysis doesn’t change regardless of how anyone would answer your question.

Finally, you slipped in that “shady questionable” description for the products being advertised. As I said, I’ve never even heard of Airbus or their products prior to reading this article, and outside of this article, this comment section, and the ad in question, I’ve done no additional research into either. AFAICT, there is no particular reason to presume that the products in question or the “non-paid celebrity non-endorsement” is shady or questionable at all, especially not shady. Now, that’s not a final judgement call; just that I didn’t notice anything particularly strange or suspicious on Airbus’s part. You yourself did not give that characterization until this one comment. Thus, I would say your question is clearly biased.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

See, now that’s an example of an actual infringement of the right of publicity. Roca Labs claimed on their website that Alfonso endorsed their product. He did not. Thus, Roca Labs lied about the endorsement, which is illegal. That sort of thing is not a statement of historical fact like this one is but a clear, unambiguous but false claim that a celebrity endorsed the product.

And even then, it didn’t actually affect my decision as to whether to purchase anything from Roca Labs. To be fair, I just don’t buy diet products like this because they never work, but compared to everything else wrong with Roca Labs (the non-disparagement clause to get a discount, their enforcement of it, their demand for positive feedback, making it virtually impossible to buy the product without the discount, the questionable testimony from an alleged doctor who was not authorized to practice medicine, the no-refund policy, etc.), it was barely a blip on my radar. Celebrity testimony on a product doesn’t have any particular power over my purchasing decisions.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

No one has a “right to an achievement”. That is a historical fact that cannot be patented, copyrighted, trademarked, or made a trade secret. It also cannot be restricted by the right of publicity or similar rights. There are no rights to be had here, other than the right to be associated with that achievement and vice versa.

Also, wouldn’t the data retained by the Air Force include the information that Yeager was the pilot and that this was the first successful manned flight of a supersonic jet? That is data, after all.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

What about what I said do you think is bullshit?

I was stating the fact that, from a legal standpoint, people don’t have a right to an achievement that overcomes the FA’s right to free speech protections for statements of historical fact. Truthful statements of unclassified or declassified historical fact regarding a public figure are one of the specific examples of speech that is absolutely protected by the First Amendment without exception.

There’s also, AFAICT, no part of the U.S. Constitution or any state constitution, no federal or state law, and no case law suggesting that there is, in fact, a “right to an achievement”. As a legal principle, it appears to be nonexistent within the U.S. To the extent it exists, as I said, it’s superseded by case law and the FA.

Anonymous Coward says:

If this was violating any of Chucklehead Yogurt’s rights, oh man, imagine how many other things we wouldn’t be able to have.

For example: political campaigns couldn’t ever mention the names of their opponents in their speeches or advertisements! (Or the names of their predecessors. Or the President. Or a past President.)

The song Sweet Home Alabama would be illegal, because it name-drops Neil Young. (What a cruel, cruel world it would be in which Sweet Home Alabama is illegal, but the Kid Rock knockoff is perfectly fine…)

The Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and similar books would be unable to list any factual oddities without permission! (I’m not talking about Billy Mitchell’s butt-hurt I’M A GOOD NOODLE lawsuit, I’m talking about something undisputable but unpleasant, like "most unsuccessful attempts to run for office in Idaho" or something.)

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

In another comment, you were complaining about PC culture on the internet, which is closely related to being respectful. Now you’re passive-aggressively whining about someone being disrespectful. How do you reconcile these seemingly inconsistent views?

And how was the other AC politicizing anything? Sure, he mentioned political campaigns, but only to note that if Yeager was to prevail here, that could have severe consequences for political campaigns. Nothing else they said came close to discussing political topics beyond what is necessary whenever talking about legal issues.

As for practicality, the whole idea is that what Yeager is saying wouldn’t be practical. I’d say he understands practicality pretty well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yep. It’s not politicized if it affects everyone equally, and it’s a disappointing truth that you see very few politicians of any affiliation campaigning these days without not only mentioning but attacking their opponents.

As far as respect goes… if our anonymous air force fan hails from Idaho, sorry, their state just happened to get the random 2% punchline. If they’re a fan of Kid Rock, sorry, but All Summer Long is a weak mashup of "Werewolves in London" with "Sweet Home Alabama" and I shall never be making love to it. If they’re a Billy Mitchell fan… sorry, I didn’t know those existed.

And if they’re upset that I didn’t use Chunky Yoga’s real name, hey, they’re the ones being disrespectful by using his incredibly important name while advertising their opinions… I’m just making sure I obey the wishes of He Who Shall Not Be Named.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Mil/Ind complex

But what is “respect”? How does one give it? How much respect should I give my elders (or anyone else), given that respect isn’t just on-or-off but with lots of middle ground. Also, why should I respect my elders? Are there limits to which elders I should respect (i.e. strangers or criminals)? Are there conditions under which my respect should be withdrawn or diminished? Assuming I have successfully learned “respect my elders” completely, how can I expand that concept to others?

Being told to “respect your elders” isn’t enough information. Maybe it was for you, but not for everyone.

I agree that everyone should start with some amount of dignity as a human being, with respect being lost or gained from there based on their actions. I just don’t think telling someone to be respectful is sufficient for teaching respect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Mil/Ind complex

"I just don’t think telling someone to be respectful is sufficient for teaching respect."

"Telling" is one way to teach, showing is another. There are many ways to learn and to teach.

Telling me not to touch a burner on the stove so I don’t get burnt is enough for me, some feel the need to touch it and see for themselves if it is hot or not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Mil/Ind complex

"Also, why should I respect my elders?"

"Are there limits to which elders I should respect (i.e. strangers or criminals)?"
"I agree that everyone should start with some amount of dignity as a human being, with respect being lost or gained from there based on their actions."
You be the judge of that.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Mil/Ind complex

But that was part of my point. Telling someone, “respect your elders,” is not enough to even teach someone to respect their elders. You often need to give more information, including “why”.

And “you be the judge of that” isn’t wrong, but it’s still problematic. If we’re talking about someone who doesn’t know anything about respect aside from what they’re being taught, they won’t have enough of a knowledge base to make that sort of judgement.

I’m not saying there’s no way to teach anyone respect. I’m just saying that it’s a lot more complicated than you make it sound.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Mil/Ind complex

"Everyone should be granted dignity just for being a living thing."

I don’t see it being that complicated if this is your starting point.

You also have to realize at least two things: First, you can’t make everyone conform to same mold. Second, some have zero respect for themselves and are not capable of respecting others.

Honestly, who here says respect must be earned and walks up to every stranger showing zero respect? I call bullshit or that you are a complete asshole.

bhull242 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Mil/Ind complex

Don’t put words into my mouth. I never said that anyone “says respect must be earned and walks up to every stranger showing zero respect.”

Look, I have autism, so my social growth, including being respectful and how, was stunted. I was brought up to believe that everyone should be granted dignity for being a human being. However, I didn’t understand what that meant, or how to go from there. I have a very literal mind, and while I understand figurative language better than most autistic persons, I still tend to take things literally and it took a long time to get this point. I had a lot of difficulty understanding nebulous, abstract concepts like dignity or respect. It’s not that I lacked any dignity or respect; I just didn’t understand it.

What is simple to someone like you can be extremely complicated for someone like me.

Anonymous Coward says:

news or advertising

Was it news or advertising?
It makes a difference.

Is news on a product website classified as advertising or as news?

The web link calls it news.

(d) For purposes of this section, a use of a name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness in connection with any news, public affairs, or sports broadcast or account, or any political campaign, shall not constitute a use for which consent is required under subdivision (a).

dickeyrat says:

I personally dealt with Chuck Yeager briefly, during my media career around 35 years ago, and found him to be a completely self-absorbed, chrome-plated asshole. Any number of test pilots could have easily been the first to break the sound barrier; Yeager just happened to be at the right place, at the right time. I hope he gets thrown on his old ass right out of court, and spends the rest of his miserable life deeply in debt for Airbus’ legal costs. "American hero", my right nut!

chuckyoghurt (profile) says:

Its his wife not him...

This has everything to do with his wife, not him. she has been labeled by a judge as a "vexatious litigant" – she sues everything at the drop of a hat.

Before they got married he was involved in 0 lawsuits. Now they have fought I think over a dozen. In my opinion this is a disgusting cash grab.

Do a quick google search for her and you will see all the frivolous lawsuits that have been initiated. Even their ex-lawyers have sued them!

I have zero doubt she is participating in this discussion – she is that insidious.

Jemes Smith (profile) says:

oneVanilla Visa Gift Card |oneVanilla Prepaid Mastercard Balance

One vanilla balance:- OneVanilla is Vanilla prepaid mastercard is the one of the best prepaid card for routine spending throughout the world. Check your balance online ,One vanilla balance,Vanilla prepaid mastercard,Vanilla visa gift card balance,Vanilla gift card,Vanilla mastercard,Vanilla visa gift card,Onevanilla prepaid visa card,Vanilla gift card balance,Vanilla visa balance

Anonymous Coward says:

It wasn’t until I glanced at the Ars Technica comment thread that I became aware of this glorious gem (emphasis mine):

The lawyer is Lincoln Bandlow, who you may recall as a somewhat notorious copyright troll who recently left his big prestigious law firm after a judge sanctioned him for some of his actions in the various copyright trolling cases was involved in.

This article doesn’t mention it here, but the cases involving Bandlow were brought at the behest of none other than Strike 3 Holdings, the third porn company in line for Prenda-level notoriety, after Malibu Media fired their top lawyer and got themselves sued by investors for wasting too much of their money.

Strike 3 Holdings basically followed everything in the Prenda Law playbook (stopping short of telling judges they were "concerned citizens", as Steele attempted in the Sunlust case), then failed to get away with the "IP address = person whose money we want" trick. This, of course, led to John Smith, Techdirt Troll of a Thousand Faces, absolutely losing his shit.

Yeah, it turns out scams don’t work twice, especially after the judges know they exist. Whodathunk? Not John Smith, certainly!

How low has Bandlow sunk?

Considering John Steele and Paul Hansmeier both resorted to ADA ambulance chasing after Prenda Law upped and sunk… Bandlow seems to be continuing the playbook to a T.

But at least he’s not doing what Shiva Ayyadurai is doing now, as triumphantly crowed by out_of_the_blue – after failing to invent email, he’s busy trying to convince people that vaccines are out to kill your children. Because always double down on idiocy!

Long live the glorious heroes of copyright!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »