Lawyers...


I guess the Autodesk Lawyers get paid by the word?

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Welcome to AutoDesk's Instructables.
I'm not sure where the differences are, obviously legal issues, funding and budgetting (as well as profits) are now managed by AutoDesk, but as for the rest of it, where's the change?
It's been less than a month; the big changes aren't here yet. The prolonged, slow way of sorting things out is just a portent of things to come.

AutoDesk is a big corporation. Instructables is (as I think is evidenced here) now not a nimble, flexible entity; it has been swallowed by the giant, which is slow indeed to act. Welcome to the new era of decisions passing through the corporate chain (I will not comment on the merits of this system compared to one or two individuals making decisions; it is, however, slower).

More than that, Autodesk is a company singularly committed to a closed model. They will protect that closed model with any and all tools available to them. Physical dongles. Supreme court lawsuits. Contracts in which (should you wish to use the software) you are forced to agree to let their agents into your home for purposes of search and seizure (on your dime) if ever you are suspected of unauthorized use.

Setting aside for a moment the absurdity of a CAD company acquiring a DIY website whose bread and butter is...recipes: It is the antithesis of open source, the maker ethos, the hacker's creed. It is similar to (but worse than) Microsoft.

Things like extreme slowness to act on issues affecting the site (like contests) is par for the course; they will actually, I think, turn out to be the most benign of the changes to come. I mean, this one was predictable.
So I guess making allsteps and secondary images available to non-logged-in viewers isn't big? That change was specifically enabled by becoming part of Autodesk; it's not something we could do if still on our own.

You're welcome to tag along for the daily meetings both Eric and I have working to get proper rules in place for contest internationalization. The non-nimble, non-flexible entities here are the countries that have weird and inconsistent contest rules; this makes it painful and very expensive to actually follow the laws. Honestly we should have been doing this from the beginning, but didn't have the money. Now we're spending Autodesk's cash and tons of our time (and that of lots of lawyers) to do it right.

To address your bigger point: the closed model you speak of is starting to die, and Autodesk knows this. That's why they're starting to build entry-level free and very cheap software tools, and target them at a much broader userbase of creative individuals. Did you read pt's blog post? He nails it.

Anyway, all I can say is wait and see. Though if making some of the most-wanted parts of the site free again doesn't change your mind, maybe I should just offer to send along a box of tinfoil for hat construction. ;)
That's a remarkable reply: I get to see the other side of the argument without watching the whole conversation go up in flames.
Maybe that's because both "sides" are adults who respect each other? Wait .... on the Internet?!? That is inconceivable!
It's a vast step up from 95% of internet forums...
Hi, Canida. Thank you for your response. :)

Thank you also for the invitation; I find the law fascinating. Unfortunately, I'm too far away to take you up on it. ;)

I absolutely do not deny that being glommed by AutoDesk means site improvements (I was pleasantly surprised by the ALLSTEPS change). I fully expect some interesting developments with regards to both software and policy, many of them positive from the user's point of view.

I also have repeatedly commented on the fact that international law is a strange and wondrous thing (even more so than that of any one country, such as the US), and that it is much more complicated and involved than people may think. I have explicitly stated that this is not a simple matter which omgshouldbealreadyresolvedrightnow!1oneone  (although it does still seem strange that there really is no boilerplate language for you to use given the fact, pointed out by Eric, that Autodesk runs international contests).

However, it is near-axiomatic that large corporations are just...slower at doing stuff. This effect of the bureaucracy is impossible to avoid entirely. I appreciate that it takes time to do it right, and have made that same point myself. But the flip side of that is that it will quite likely now take more time to do *everything* - matters of law tend not to be fast, but you also have the slow-down of a large company compounding that. The point I was driving at wasn't an argument about merits but an observation of an inevitability.

Yes, I saw the blog post. Those tools, and the formats they use, are released under a CC license (or similar), right? Unless they are, they don't show that Autodesk is moving towards a more open model. Giving away free or cheap stuff to individuals, while nice from a user's point of view, doesn't inherently translate to having or subscribing to an open model - it's just building a market. The relevant issue here is not cost but licensing and terms of usage.

While the acquisition means some things which are positive, you'll forgive me if I look at things like Autodesk Inc vs. Open Design alliance - settled just 5 years ago - and Vernor - decided just 3 years ago - and say...nah, I don't think guys who will sue the pants off of anyone else who uses their format and fight to the Supreme Court to challenge the First Sale Doctrine are particularly in sync with the core ideals of the community.  Which in turn leads me to be quite concerned about the larger issues as they will play out in the very long term.
Kiteman (author)  Lithium Rain6 years ago
You know, this topic only exists because I couldn't leave that comment as a humorous quip on the boilerplate I linked to?

Lawyers talk too much. Always have (the document that says "Kiteman has bought his house. He owns it, and the land it stands on" is a half-inch thick stack of foolscap-sized paper), and probably always will.

As far as I can see, though, the contest-legality issue is the only slow thing going on at the moment. I may be wrong (I'm not at HQ, no matter how much I'd like to be), but I think that in every other issue, AD are leaving HQ to carry on as usual.

Actually, I don't think they should be - if I was AD, I'd expect HQ to come up with a project list that is clearer than past ones [seem to] have been, with some firmer deadlines.

Although, on HQ's part, I would expect the AD lawyers to be able to cough up some pre-existing boilerplate for international contests that only needs the word "Autodesk" to be replaced with the word "Instructables" for it to be valid and usable, and I would expect that to happen in just a few minutes longer than it took to type this comment.


To reiterate - although I posit that the contest slowness *is* partially due to corporate slowdown (of which I also posit we will see much more), it is only fair to point out that while it's intuitive that "all you need is to change the names," it may require much more. I'm not terribly familiar with contest law (much less international contest law!), but I know enough to stay far, far away from that branch. ;) It's just so complex. (For a brief overview discussing contests both inside and outside the states, I just found this article, which I skimmed with intend to read when I have more time http://www.howstuffworks.com/question541.htm )

So while I think it's utterly naive to claim that AD's bureaucracy/chain-of-command is not now nor will ever effect the rate at which things happen at Instructables, I'm also not sure it's 100% fair to say that the delay caused by AD is all because of lawyers dragging their feet. I'd say it's a mixture of both, with a slight caveat that there is _some_ validity to the "this is complicated!" pleas of the lawyers (but probably not enough that they couldn't possibly do it any faster).
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