Friday, July 18, 2008

Spyshot scandal: French magazine Auto-Plus under investigation...

... and our view on the subject one year ago!
The offices of French magazine Auto-Plus were raided by officials, accusing the magazine of industrial espionage against auto maker Renault. Auto Plus published pictures and details of new models not due to launch for two to three years and Renault retaliated with a complaint to authorities resulting in an investigation being launched since last August. So far this has resulted in the confiscation of computers, documents and the detainment of Auto Plus journalist, Bruno Thomas. Renault said the complaint was intended to protect its intellectual property: "It kills creativity, you may as well just give our models to the newspapers and our competitors. What's the point of doing any research?" a spokesman said.
The interesting bit of this newstory is that the complaint originated from the publication of detailed images of the Megane III by Auto-Plus that we at Auto-Future decided not to show at the time, anticipating that these would hurt Renault's business really hard. The original post in Auto-Future is from July 2007 and you can read all of it here, or an excerpt below... our opinion on the subject one year ago!
"Finally, what’s with the “not presented below” picture? Some stolen images of what looks like a final design and unmasked version of the car were presented by a French magazine and could be illustrating this entry. Auto-Future reports on a lot of these scoops (and other stuff like technical information, EV future series, inside tips, etc), but we believe that showing those images means bad business to Renault. We are still more than one year before introduction of the model so this leak is much more serious than photographing masked prototypes or uncovered vehicles a couple of months before presentation. The interested reader can find those images very quickly on the internet so we are doing this as an editorial statement. We love all car brands and wish no harm to the folks that design and build cars all over the world. So if we feel that we could be hurting their business with a scoop image we don’t present it. And in this case Renault had a very serious security problem with this leak, such thing can not happen more than one year before the presentation of the car!"

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