Elon Musk Destroys The Rationale For Patents, Opens Up All Of Tesla's

from the rant-on! dept

Earlier this week, we wrote about rumors that Elon Musk was going to free up some of Tesla's patents to encourage more people to adopt the company's Supercharger system. As we noted this shouldn't be controversial, but it was still considered as such. Elon Musk has now made the official announcement and it actually goes way beyond what was originally rumored. It's not just about the Superchargers, it's all of Tesla's patents. But, better than that, Musk explains why he no longer thinks patents make sense and even demolishes the one argument that even many patent skeptics make: that they're "still needed to stop big companies from copying your innovations."

As we've explained in the past big companies almost never recognize truly disruptive innovation when it happens. This is for a variety of reasons, including the basic innovator's dilemma, but also just because companies are so focused on their own things, it's tough to get them to realize outside innovation. Furthermore, even when they do copy, it's actually pretty rare for them to get it right. That's because, from the outside, they only copy the superficial stuff, and have no idea why something is really successful. And thus, even if they have the "exact plans" for the competitor's technology or process, they don't understand the little things that make customers love them. Similarly, innovators are constantly innovating, so by the time the copycat catches up, they're still behind.

But, an even bigger issue, as we explained before, is that having more viable competitors can also enlarge the overall market. So if a company like Tesla has no viable competitors, they're left educating the market and building all the infrastructure themselves -- and that's pure cost. Opening up their patents actually helps Tesla in the long run by (hopefully) spreading out some of those costs, and increasing the size of the overall market. This is what many patent system supporters just don't get -- but Musk clearly understands deeply.

He talks about how he used to be a patent system believer, but he's been converted in the other direction. And while he avoided patents at some of his companies, with Tesla he was convinced they were necessary, because "the big car companies" might just copy everything he's done. Now, he says, he knows that's not true, and he actually would prefer they do copy Tesla's work.
At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all.

Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.
This is absolutely true and it's great to see it stated so directly. If only other companies were willing to do so. As for the actual way this will work, Tesla has announced that it "will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology." That's not entirely putting the work into the public domain, but it's a good step. Years ago, I had hopes that Google and others would do something similar, but it has not come to pass. Google had made a similar pledge, but only for open source projects, and Twitter has basically given its own engineers the ability to veto any offensive patent litigation efforts by issuing their own license. But Tesla has now gone even further than both of them by basically telling any competitor to feel free to make use of its patents without worrying about getting sued.

Unlike so many other companies and company leaders, Musk appears to recognize the simple fact that innovation is not in how many patents you get, it's in how you actually build amazing products and services that people want -- and patents can often get in the way of that, rather than help it. It's nice to see him declare that so directly. He even took the symbolic gesture of removing the framed patents from Tesla's lobby wall. This is great to see and hopefully it will inspire others in the tech industry to put down similar stakes as well.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 12:06pm

    What Tesla forgot!

    Its not about innovation.

    Big Nasty players use them to STIFLE IT, so they can be the only ones getting the fat checks. They DON'T WANT or LIKE to SHARE! They want to own everything about it so they can maximize profits any way possible and leave no stone, tool, or law unmolested to do so!

     

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  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 12:16pm

    Smart

    What Tesla is doing is making it easier for them to set the de facto standards. Other companies are more likely to adopt their battery specifications, etc.

     

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  3.  
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    S. T. Stone, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Smart

    And the companies who truly innovate will find ways to improve the technology outlined in those patents.

     

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  4.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Smart

    As Philips did with the cassette and CD.

     

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    Avatar28 (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 12:32pm

    Standardized infrastructure is needed

    See, here's thing. The biggest problem with electric cars right now isn't just the range, it's the lack of a charging infrastructure. Suppose Tesla doesn't make their patents available. Ford develops their own charging system, GM comes up with their own, Toyota has their own etc. None of these different systems are compatible. Now each company has to build out their own infrastructure. As a consumer, you're at their mercy and have to hope that your OEM puts charging stations where you need them or be SOL. What's needed is standardization.

    Look, if you're out and about with your car and you're running low on fuel, what do you do? You go to a gas station. They're plentiful and it doesn't matter what gas station you go to, you know that the nozzle is going to fit and the gas is going to work. In the scenario I described above you don't have that. Until electric charging stations are somewhat ubiquitous, you're never going to really see widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

    If Tesla keeps their patents locked up then they have to wait until ASE or another standards organization sets some sort of standard. If the standard doesn't match what you've been doing so far then you either have to retrofit everybody or continue supporting your old standards. By releasing their patents, Tesla is going a long way towards avoiding that. Other companies can adopt their already developed tech and save most of the R&D costs they would have to come up with their own. Eventually, Tesla's tech becomes the defacto standard that everybody settles on.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 12:36pm

    Re: What Tesla forgot!

    Hopefully what this amounts to is Tesla continuing to innovate, share, and move the state of the art forward. Ideally others will take advantage of the opportunity to reduce their own R&D and start building cars based on market forces and the "free" technology Tesla has opened up. That will be what really demonstrates the vision of Mr. Musk.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 12:44pm

    Kudos to Elon

    As soon as my salary triples, I can buy one of his cars to support his good deed.

    btw - I'm curious how one uses their patents in bad faith? My only guess is that he is reserving the right to use them in defense of a company that sues him for patent infringement.

     

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    madasahatter (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 12:50pm

    Good Move

    This makes sense for many reasons as noted by others. But there is one intangible that Tesla has gotten by this - lots of good will. They also challenging others to follow their lead.

     

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  9.  
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    Nick (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 12:57pm

    Standardization is one of the greatest things that can possibly happen to nearly every industry. Imagine if we standardized power charging cables; no longer would you need to have your ipad charging cable, your new iphone charging cable, your kindle fire charging cable, your 3DS charging cable, and more. As long as the equipment is designed to charge off of the same power levels, there is no reaosn to have a separate brick for charging one device and another.

    Instead, we get companies sitting on their own tiny islands, with hardware specifically made for their devices. They claim otherwise, but it's USUALLY so they can charge high prices for equipment that cost them pennies to make since they have a monopoly on their parts. Heck, apple CHECKS to make sure you aren't using an unauthorized CHARGING cable, and refuses to charge if it's not licensed (as in, they pay a fee to apple for each sold).

    Well, rant over. I highly approve of Musk's plan here to open up their tech. It will destroy one big barrier to a nation-wide adoption of electric car infrastructure. Now, all we need is a cheap, powerful alternative/upgrade to batteries, and we are set.

     

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    DS, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:03pm

    It's easy when you're the market leader in a segment that you created and are the only player in.

     

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    limbodog (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Smart

    Yes, very smart, but also good for all of us. I think this is one of the best things I've heard a CEO do in a long time.

     

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    Whatever, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:11pm

    asterix

    He opened them up PROVIDING that those who use it agree to his "free charging for life" concept. Just like everyone else, he isn't just giving it out for free, he's got something tied to it.

    It may or may not be that he is right, but only time will tell. He has the money to create a standard, even if it's not the best one.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:12pm

    +1 for humanity

     

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  14.  
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    Trevor, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:22pm

    Re:

    Isn't that why Apple changed the charging port and moved the side button on the iPhone 5? So everyone had to get new chargers and cases?

     

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    Ignis (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:23pm

    It's great that they've decided to open up the patents. I'm the opposite of a patent system fan, but now that this has happened, I think it might be a good thing that Tesla holds the patents. Otherwise, if the inventions were never patented to begin with, I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility for a big auto company to appropriate and patent all the technologies despite having no hand in making them happen.

    Yes, prior art and all that, but that's never really stopped slimy patent attorneys from adding one or two sentences to make their application 'unique', now has it? Even if it causes enough bad PR and the misappropriated patents get invalidated, they can still do tremendous damage while they're alive.

     

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  16.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Kudos to Elon


    btw - I'm curious how one uses their patents in bad faith?


    That was a red flag for me. These patents are going to be around for 20 years, and likely Musk will not be in charge that whole time. If more short-sighted leadership takes over, will they start suing people for acting "in bad faith"?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: What Tesla forgot!

    I hope so as well, but Elon does not seem to have the same type of greed that the others whom do not care what Tesla does with their patents so long as they get to keep theirs and use his too.

    Few people are brave enough to turn loose control over their stuff in hopes that society at large will be able to improve upon them.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    Depends... hopefully he will see bad faith as a company that bases their patent off his and tries to close that off from the rest.

    But we will just have to wait and see on that.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:30pm

    Re:

    Wrong...

    +1 for Elon

    Humanity does not deserve anything for its massive group think and sheeple habits. This the reason Liberty must be a value advanced before all others and damn sure before equality.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:47pm

    I hope he's also writing down every obvious step as well.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 1:51pm

    Wish I could buy a Tesla car when I need a new car in 5 or so years, but I likely can't because

    1) I believe my state banned Tesla from selling cars here.

    2) Last I checked Tesla was almost triple the price of the Toyota Prius. While I have plenty of cash sitting around in bank accounts and investments, I'm not paying triple the price of a Prius for a car, even if it can drive itself and run 100% off of solar or something to make me never have to refuel it.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Kudos to Elon

    btw - I'm curious how one uses their patents in bad faith?

    Add some minor "non-obvious" improvement and get a patent, like all those software patents that took existing ideas and added "on the Internet" to get a patent.
    What he should get his lawyers onto is writing a 'GPL style' patent license, that is any improvements on this patent must be released under the same terms.

     

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  23.  
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    Who Cares (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 2:58pm

    About that cassette

    Philips developed it in complete secrecy to the point that they were developing another system, based on the 8-track, with the competition. Competition that left in a huff when they found out about this.
    The big breakthrough came because of big car manufacturers adopting the cassette over 8-track due to it's reliability. Was quite a shock to the USA companies who bet on 8-track.

     

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  24.  
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    jimb (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 3:44pm

    Tesla absolutely gets it. Besides, as Coca-Cola showed 100+ years ago, a patent is nothing compared to good trade secrets. Really new innovations, "new and novel" can often be kept secret, and that last forever, as long as the right people are the only ones in the know. The fictional 'Shipstone' battery is a good one... how they make it is secret, and if you tamper with it, it blows up, usually making a big mess. Result, one well-protected trade secret, and a (fictional) huge business success. The business is a result of the performance of the product.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 4:13pm

    Re: asterix

    He opened them up PROVIDING that those who use it agree to his "free charging for life" concept.
    Where do you see that? The article mentioned "good faith" as the only condition.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Standardized infrastructure is needed

    It looks like Tesla has a lot of patents. They could have tried to limit their pledge to areas where standards might be expected (e.g. charging), but it applies to everything--so standardization can't be the only reason.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 6:32pm

    Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    Exactly what I'm thinking. Tesla should write up a GPL copyleft license for their patents. We've seen how much Linux has exploded compared to BSD, due to copyleft.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Re: What Tesla forgot!

    Really what we should hope is that Tesla goes absolutely patent crazy and patents all the things. Why you ask? Because then other car manufacturers can't patent them, and so Tesla can then free more patents up, so they that more innovation will occur

     

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  29.  
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    BSD32x (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 7:57pm

    I love Elon Musk for doing this, I just wish something similar could happen on the software side, where the abuse is so much more widespread. Here's hoping this is only the start for him...

     

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  30.  
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    Nick (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 9:02pm

    Re: Re:

    It was the particular case that I based my rant on, in fact. I don't have a recent iPhone (my current is a hand-me-down and was free, the only reason I use it), so it hasn't affected me personally. But the massive number of cables I keep near my bed in case I need to charge a device.

     

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  31.  
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    vancedecker (profile), Jun 12th, 2014 @ 11:13pm

    Normally, I just come here to...

    ...make fun of you, this site, and its stupid mind numbingly obtuse posters.

    However, even I refuse to make fun of Elon Musk. He's already done so much more than the multitudes of incompetent CEO's out there. He's truly someone people should look up to.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 11:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    Actually, linux has exploded compared to BSD because of the quality of the initial developers (Torvaalds), and now because of the quantity of developers.

    I don't think the developer situation would be very different if a more permissive license were involved, except that BSD would be allowed to back-port security fixes and other good ideas and we'd have choice in kernels as well as distributions. Consider that the GPL is nearly as bad as patents in locking up good ideas.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 12th, 2014 @ 11:31pm

    Re: Kudos to Elon

    btw - I'm curious how one uses their patents in bad faith? My only guess is that he is reserving the right to use them in defense of a company that sues him for patent infringement.

    I found that wording strange myself. It would have been more comforting if he offered a free license to anyone who wanted to use their patents "in good faith", with the free license being revokable (or not applicable) if you wanted to extend the idea and wrap it up in your own patent.

    Having a license is a stronger position than not expecting to be sued until someone else gets hold of the patent.

     

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  34.  
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    toyotabedzrock (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 1:22am

    This could help scale battery production which is one of the biggest expenses in the way of cheaper cars.

     

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  35.  
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    Whatever, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 3:35am

    Re: Re: Standardized infrastructure is needed

    It's not about standardization, as much as getting the big car companies to help roll out the infrastructure he needs to push his business over the top. Tesla right now suffers greatly because they just don't have enough charging stations spread out to make the car as useful as an internal combustion engine. It's why cars like the Chevy Volt, while not as sexy as the Tesla, are immensely more practical, they are not tied to charging stations.

    As a side note, all the discussion of clean cars is pretty funny, considering that the US generates much of it's electricity by burning fossil fuels, burning coal, or nuclear power. It's not clean, it's just moving the issue to someone else's back yard.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 4:44am

    It’s good to see this kind of thing. It seems like it makes sense for Tesla on a business level, and it’s good that that has been realised. However, I don’t think it can be assumed that a similar approach would be good for all other businesses.

    The “good faith” requirement has been noted by a couple of commenters. I think what that really means could make a big difference to how significant this move turns out to be. If the bounds of “good faith” are too vague, or if the permission can be withdrawn, it doesn’t really give much comfort to anyone wanting to use the technology.

    It seems Tesla don’t think their patents are completely useless. If they did, they could withdraw all of their patents and put them into the public domain that way. That would also save them the (not inconsiderable) cost of renewal fees. The fact that they are keeping the patents implies that they want them for something, possibly for use defensively.

    A few posters have mentioned patenting an idea to prevent competitors patenting the idea. It’s not necessary to obtain, or even apply for, a patent to stop someone else patenting the idea. Publishing the idea is enough – some companies actively publish ideas they decide not to patent themselves in order to stop competitors patenting those ideas.

    In any case, an interesting decision by Tesla. I wonder if it will prompt other companies to take similar measures.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    Consider that the GPL is nearly as bad as patents in locking up good ideas.

    I do not fathom your logic. How is saying that all changes have to be given back to the community from which you took the software "locking up good ideas" in your eyes? Seems like the complete opposite to me.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 5:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Standardized infrastructure is needed

    If I can't see the pollution, it's not my problem, right?

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 5:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    This adds an unnecessary constraint. Do you know why the BSD network stack has been adopted several times by operating systems outside the BSD universe (including Windows)? Because of the BSD license. Now people might argue that the proprietary nature of this is harmful, but I can't see how. If the source was open at one point, you have now have a forking point. It's up to the open source community to compete with the proprietary vendors. If they can't keep up, they don't deserve the accolades that come with the work to keep innovating. And the fact that the GPL taints every piece of source it comes in contact with is another reason it is so insidious.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 6:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Standardized infrastructure is needed

    Its easier to clean up one smoke stack than thousands of tailpipes.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 6:16am

    Re:

    Say you are a small company with a new innovation, you are the first to exploit it.

    Ok, then the 'market leader' picks up on it and takes this idea. Chances are they will improve the product to reach the market, because nowadays a huge and expensive marketing campaign can be countered by smart use of 'new media'.

    Without patents, the small company can easily adopt the modifications of the 'market leader' and build upon that knowledge.

    This process makes sure that only the best ideas are rewarded and will speed up innovation.

     

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  42.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 7:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Standardized infrastructure is needed

    "It's not clean, it's just moving the issue to someone else's back yard."

    That's a bit of a red herring. While it's true that 100% electric vehicles aren't actually "zero emissions" because of the exact thing you say (unless maybe you live somewhere like the Pacific Northwest where most electricity comes from hydroelectric), it is also true that in terms of emissions per energy unit, a large power plant is much less polluting than a car's engine.

     

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  43.  
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    nasch (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Standardized infrastructure is needed

    It's not about standardization, as much as getting the big car companies to help roll out the infrastructure he needs to push his business over the top.

    That infrastructure won't do Tesla any good unless it's standardized.

     

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  44.  
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    Avatar28 (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Standardized infrastructure is needed

    That's correct. A power plant, even one burning fossil fuels, produces much less pollution than the IC engine in a car (per unit of energy, not in absolute terms, obviously). Given that over 50% of the electricity in the US comes from nuclear, hydro and natural gas (which produces much less pollution than other fossil fuels), that number is further lowered.

     

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  45.  
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    sorrykb (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 8:07am

    Re: Re:

    Anonymous Coward wrote:
    Humanity does not deserve anything for its massive group think and sheeple habits. This the reason Liberty must be a value advanced before all others and damn sure before equality.

    Ah, so we're going for rage-filled misanthropy as the path to liberty. I can't recall too many examples of that working in the past, but maybe that's because I'm just one of the little people.

    I'll go with +1 for humanity and +1 for Elon. (I think we have enough surplus +'s to use two for this.)

     

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  46.  
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    Michael, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re: asterix

    This was partially speculation in a previous article and partially related to some of Musk's statements.

    It is likely that Tesla is going to have to make it a requirement that companies that want to give their customers access to supercharger locations will need to take on some of the costs of building and maintaining them. Must has made it very clear that he would be willing to work with other auto-makers that wanted to make their cars compatible with the Tesla charging systems.

    This isn't even a patent issue so much since you need to be authorized to use the superchargers - pulling in with a Prius would technically be trespassing. The supercharger near me is not unmanned, so the guy with the Tesla shirt on would probably wave me off if I tried to pull in there with my mini and top off my battery (to then use to start up my petrol engine, of course). I would assume that the ultimate goal for Tesla would be unmanned superchargers to keep costs down.

     

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  47.  
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    Michael, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 8:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    One small step for mankind, one giant paycheck for Elon?

    That seems like a good trade in the EV area right now, actually.

     

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  48.  
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    Michael, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 8:51am

    Re:

    Hello sir.

    I have a patent pending for "A process of noting obvious steps in a process to provide evidence of obviousness to the USPTO."

    While the patent is technically pending, it is (obviously) going to be granted as doing so has never been written down before I applied for the patent. However, prior to the inevitable patent approval, I am providing licenses for this technology at a drastically reduced rate.

    Please contact me immediately to secure your license.

     

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  49.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 8:55am

    Re: Kudos to Elon

    "As soon as my salary triples"

    I remember when an electronic calculator cost pretty close to $1,000. Prices will eventually reach not-insane levels, probably within our lifetimes.

     

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  50.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's one of the core reasons why I would never buy an iPhone. Also, the lack of a removable battery.

    But in the non-Apple world, that cellphones have standardized on charging through USB has been the latest example of something that has made my life much, much easier.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 9:05am

    Re: asterix

    "He has the money to create a standard, even if it's not the best one."

    Which is how nearly all standards are determined. They're rarely the best ones, they're the ones that have the best backing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    "Actually, linux has exploded compared to BSD because of the quality of the initial developers (Torvaalds), and now because of the quantity of developers."

    BSD has been around since the 1980's. There's been large developer support, such as AT&T, Apple, and Sun Microsystems. I hope you consider those quality developers. Not to mention all the Universities running BSD.

    The problem is all these companies took everything BSD had to offer, and hardly contributed anything back to the project. Locking all their contributions up behind proprietary licenses and charging money for those licenses.

    Fair enough, that's how the BSD license is written. The Linux kernel on the other hand, is licensed under GPLv2. Anyone who uses modifies the Linux kernel and redistributes that modified kernel, must provide a copy of those modifications back to the community.

    So in summery, BSD has been around around longer than Linux, with development work done by large companies. Linux has been around since the 1990's, also having development help from large companies.

    Despite Linux being around for less time, it's over twice as popular and widespread. They're both Unix-like operating systems. Only the license sets them apart. One requires corporations to contribute back the the code base, the other does not.

    I believe Linux's popularity has less to do with quality and quantity of developers, and more to do with it's licensing scheme. The GPL actually requires a return on investment. BSD's license does not, hence less investment to the BSD code base.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 9:29am

    Re:

    In 5 years, it seems pretty likely that Tesla will have both used inventory available (I mean other than a few roadsters) and lower-priced models.

    However, they will still probably be banned from selling them in a bunch of places, so you may be screwed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Almost Anonymous, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 11:05am

    Re:

    Agreed, the prices right now make it such that you will probably never "save money" by having an all electric car. However, as manufacturing picks up, and more companies use and build on the same technology that Musk is using, the prices will begin to drop precipitously. I bet we'll be able to buy an all electric car with range as good as an ICE car at around $20k within ten years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    Given that Apple's OS is BSD Unix, is it still true that Linux still more popular than BSD?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    I'm not following your logic.

    "Do you know why the BSD network stack has been adopted several times by operating systems outside the BSD universe (including Windows)? Because of the BSD license."

    Precisely so, but so what? How is this indicative of the GPL being a bad thing? It's merely indicative of the fact that the GPL is not suitable for all use cases -- something that was never in doubt, nor indicated that there's something wrong with the GPL.

    "If they can't keep up, they don't deserve the accolades that come with the work to keep innovating."

    I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here. GPL developers keep up with proprietary code just fine, but I'm not sure why this is an important point.

    "And the fact that the GPL taints every piece of source it comes in contact with is another reason it is so insidious."

    This is a tautological argument -- you're saying "the GPL is bad because it's the GPL". You call it "tainting," but I call it "the single most important part of the license" for accomplishing what the goals of the GPL are.

    It sounds like your argument is that the GPL is bad because it is incompatible with some business models. It's true that it is indeed incompatible with some business models -- but why does that make it bad? Not everything is about providing the biggest commercial benefit possible. Some things are about providing the biggest social benefit possible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    I said it's an unnecessary constraint. And it is. You don't *need* the GPL to innovate. The BSD/MIT/etc. license model produces the same results. The GPL adds additional constraints that limit what developers can do with source code. That is a problem for commercial interests, but it's also a problem for developers who might want to write certain interoperable software. Versions of the GPL place constraints on things like linking and communicating over sockets. It's absolutely ridiculous.

    And its viral nature is a problem unto itself. Obviously I'm not a fan of the GPL, but even if I was it still has the issue that it is very incompatible with other licenses due to the fact that it completely changes the agreement between software developer and code. Collaboration can only happen if everyone is either very careful or the entire project is just brought under the GPL umbrella to make it easy. Do you really think that promotes openness? I don't.

    And I agree with the social benefit part, but you have to understand that commercial interests provide social benefit too. Allowing both commercial and open interests to have the widest array of options is the largest social benefit. That's why I don't think the GPL is a great fit. I never said it didn't fit, but I personally believe that the BSD/MIT/etc. fit is just better overall. In my 15+ years in the OSS community, I have never once felt the need to use the GPL. But I've had a lot of reasons to not use it.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    Counting Android, plus servers. Embedded systems like Raspberry Pi, routers and cars. Most likely yes.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 1:37pm

    That's exactly why the GPL was created. To prevent people from selfishly taking another author's preexisting work, and then re-licensing that work for financial gain without contributing anything back to the code.

    I believe the best way to describe such a requirement, would be "sharing". I understand quite a few people are against sharing. Naturally the GPL isn't a good fit in those cases.

    I'd be happy if the GPL wasn't necessary. If there were no copyright laws, then there would be no need for a GPL. The GPL is specifically written to promote sharing, collaboration, and innovation.

    When you have developers around the world contributing to a code base, they can out innovate any company through sheer numbers and manpower.

    That' simply not possible with a license that doesn't encourage collaboration on a global scale, and promotes hording.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Mark, Jun 13th, 2014 @ 1:43pm

    Motivation?

    Isn't he building a huge battery manufacturing plant? When I heard about the announcement I thought that might be his main reason for doing this. Not that I don't think it's brilliant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 13th, 2014 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    "I said it's an unnecessary constraint. And it is"

    But it's not. I think that we're talking about different things here. You don't need the GPL to innovate -- and nobody has said that you do. The purpose of the GPL is to provide a mechanism by which collaborative work can take place while ensuring that it remains collaborative (that is, nobody can take GPL code and turn it into something private). How else would you accomplish this?

    "It's absolutely ridiculous"

    Then don't use GPL code. I don't see what the problem is.

    "it still has the issue that it is very incompatible with other licenses due to the fact that it completely changes the agreement between software developer and code."

    Yes, that's the entire point of the GPL.

    "Collaboration can only happen if everyone is either very careful or the entire project is just brought under the GPL umbrella to make it easy. Do you really think that promotes openness? I don't."

    It absolutely does within the crowd that is interested in this sort of collaborative development. You aren't interested in that sort of work, and there's nothing wrong with that. But lots of people obviously are. Why do you have a problem with that?

    "you have to understand that commercial interests provide social benefit too. Allowing both commercial and open interests to have the widest array of options is the largest social benefit."

    Sometimes, but not always. There are many instances where the concessions needed to make things easy for commercial operations reduces the societal benefit. The GPL is better for those sort of things, as it gives a better chance of avoiding predatory commercial behavior.

    "In my 15+ years in the OSS community, I have never once felt the need to use the GPL. But I've had a lot of reasons to not use it."

    And both of those are completely legitimate. I'm not, by any means, saying that everyone should use the GPL. I'm saying that the GPL is the best solution we currently have for certain types of projects.

    What I don't understand is that rather than simply saying "I don't like the terms of the GPL and therefore don't use GPL code" -- a totally legitimate and defensible stance -- you seem to be saying "The GPL should not exist at all."

    So I ask you, what license would accomplish the same goals of the GPL that you would like better? BSD/MIT/etc. don't do that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2014 @ 7:29am

    Re: Normally, I just come here to...

    So basically you're a waste of space, then. Big of you for admitting that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2014 @ 12:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    Hi again,

    The purpose of the GPL is to provide a mechanism by which collaborative work can take place while ensuring that it remains collaborative (that is, nobody can take GPL code and turn it into something private). How else would you accomplish this?


    Nobody can take BSD code and turn it into something private, that's a huge red herring. People can absolutely take BSD code, fork it into something new and keep *that* private, but even by just existing, it's providing benefit for its users, and inspiration for its competitors.

    Then don't use GPL code. I don't see what the problem is.


    That's exactly what the problem is. Use of the GPL has stopped someone from creating (or trying to) a better world, through better available tools.

    You can reply with something like "do it yourself, rather than relying on the work of others, if you aren't going to share it out afterwards", but that's another red herring. What if I want to share my work using the MIT license, or the MPL? There's no way I can build on GPL work and release my work in the way that I want. Add to that, the size of the GPL ecosystem means that there usually aren't any other open source alternatives.

    What I don't understand is that rather than simply saying "I don't like the terms of the GPL and therefore don't use GPL code" -- a totally legitimate and defensible stance -- you seem to be saying "The GPL should not exist at all."

    I go back to my previous sentiment, consider that the GPL is better at locking up ideas than patents. Once code is under the GPL license, it just can't exist outside the GPL ecosystem. Want to port a GPL security fix back into BSD? Good luck! Want to create a competing open source library using a non-GPL license? You'd better keep extensive documentation that enables you to prove you didn't take any GPL code, and you better vet all of your third party contributions, too!

    The GPL existing puts non-GPL authors at a disadvantage, it leads to hoarding ideas in a single ecosystem, and it's not demonstrably better for the community than any other open source license. Eclipse, Vim, BSD, all have viable communities despite being "plundered" (?) by evil commercial entities. Or something.

    So I ask you, what license would accomplish the same goals of the GPL that you would like better? BSD/MIT/etc. don't do that.

    MPL? Even BSD/MIT do a better job of "share-alike" than GPL, in my opinion. You say that somebody taking and not sharing is a bad thing. I say it's better than them not taking at all.

    See also https://www.freebsd.org/doc/en/articles/bsdl-gpl/article.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 16th, 2014 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    "People can absolutely take BSD code, fork it into something new and keep *that* private"

    Yes, this is what I meant.

    "Use of the GPL has stopped someone from creating (or trying to) a better world, through better available tools."

    The use any any license has done this. The bigger question is on the whole, is there a net benefit? I say yes.

    "Once code is under the GPL license, it just can't exist outside the GPL ecosystem."

    Indeed. As I acknowledged, this is the whole point of the GPL. For what the GPL is supposed to accomplish, this is appropriate. If you don't like it, don't use it. Problem solved. However, since you acknowledge that you believe the GPL should not exist at all, we clearly have an insurmountable difference in philosophies.

    "The GPL existing puts non-GPL authors at a disadvantage"

    I don't see how. Non-GPL authors are not bound by the GPL. You're complaining that non-GPL authors aren't free to use GPL code without agreeing to the license. This is not any different than any other licensing arrangement.

    "Eclipse, Vim, BSD, all have viable communities despite being "plundered" (?) by evil commercial entities."

    This statement says to me that you don't understand the point of the GPL at all. It has little to do with commercial entities (evil or otherwise). There are commercial entities that produce nothing but GPL code.

    "You say that somebody taking and not sharing is a bad thing."

    Stated in the broad sense as you have, no, I don't say that.

    "I say it's better than them not taking at all."

    I can't decide if this is a red herring or a false dichotomy. It's one of the two...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 16th, 2014 @ 8:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Kudos to Elon

    I think we're arguing in different directions, and inasmuch as we're coming from different philosophical viewpoints it's probably not surprising.

    "Use of the GPL has stopped someone from creating (or trying to) a better world, through better available tools."

    The use any any license has done this. The bigger question is on the whole, is there a net benefit? I say yes.

    But the BSD or MIT licenses don't do this. Anyone is free to extend it in any way they want. They may choose not to share their extensions, but at least we have the result of their labours and can try to reproduce them, which I think is a better situation than what you're suggesting in terms of just not touching the code if you don't like the license.
    I'm not suggesting that I want to use GPL code without following the license, and I actually do follow your suggestion and simply don't contribute. I'm just saying that I wish code that is under the GPL was instead released under a more permissive license (explored in more detail below).

    "Once code is under the GPL license, it just can't exist outside the GPL ecosystem."

    Indeed. As I acknowledged, this is the whole point of the GPL. For what the GPL is supposed to accomplish, this is appropriate. If you don't like it, don't use it. Problem solved. However, since you acknowledge that you believe the GPL should not exist at all, we clearly have an insurmountable difference in philosophies.

    While that's a good thing for GPL, it's a bad thing for every permissive open source license. Or at least, no better than closed source. Your problem is solved, in that nobody can fork away a private version of a GPL project, but if a GPL project forks in some BSD code (for example), then extends it in a novel and useful fashion... if the author doesn't choose to cross-license the extension back to the original BSD project (which may not be possible, depending on the GPL code the extension was based on/inspired by?), then that idea is stuck in the GPL ecosystem, and the original BSD project is left behind with no recourse.

    It's not even clear that the BSD authors can take the algorithm and reimplement it themselves, because it's likely that the result will look very similar to the GPL efforts, which leaves them open to claims of plagiarism.

    "The GPL existing puts non-GPL authors at a disadvantage"

    I don't see how. Non-GPL authors are not bound by the GPL. You're complaining that non-GPL authors aren't free to use GPL code without agreeing to the license. This is not any different than any other licensing arrangement.

    But it is different to the BSD/MIT licensing arrangements. I'm just suggesting that if the GPL didn't exist, then people would be releasing their code under more permissive licenses, and everything would be better. [citation required]

    Also, see above for a hypothetical situation in which a BSD author is put at a disadvantage because a GPL author is perpetrating exactly the situation they're trying to protect themselves from. Which seems wrong, but because of the GPL, that author may not be able to share the code back even if they want to.

    "Eclipse, Vim, BSD, all have viable communities despite being "plundered" (?) by evil commercial entities."

    This statement says to me that you don't understand the point of the GPL at all. It has little to do with commercial entities (evil or otherwise). There are commercial entities that produce nothing but GPL code.

    This statement was just trying to demonstrate that open source doesn't need the GPL. I guess I don't understand the point of the GPL, because I look at the license and it tells me that I can't choose how I'm allowed to share the fruit of my own work. To be honest, I'm more upset that I'm not allowed to release into the creative commons or via a BSD-style license than I am about my ability to hide my code from everyone.

    So forget about my comment about commercial entities, and look at it as an example of burgeoning, successful open source projects that have no reliance on the GPL. It's my answer to the question "what would open source look like without the GPL?", that is... pretty much like it does now, just without the GPL.

    "You say that somebody taking and not sharing is a bad thing."

    Stated in the broad sense as you have, no, I don't say that.

    "I say it's better than them not taking at all."

    I can't decide if this is a red herring or a false dichotomy. It's one of the two...

    Apologies for the sweeping statements. Thanks for not getting caught up in them.

    Perhaps... the GPL was useful in the 90s, when the (commercial) idea of open source was still new(ish), and the GPL was a not-so-subtle way to push people to choose open source in larger and larger numbers. Without the GPL, perhaps open source would not be as advanced as it is today. Now though, I feel like people "get" open source, I'd like to see a move back to nicer licenses, as long as there was a way to "free up" the code currently locked into GPL.

    Of course, nobody needs to care what I'd like, and that's fine too. I'm okay with how things are, but I'll keep contributing an alternative viewpoint when people try to push the GPL as The Way for open source development.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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