Nov 12, 2015 · 5 minutes

The story of Tellspec and their “miracle” food scanner had already gone from strange to crazy to just plain ludicrous. So what word should we use to describe the latest twist?

How about perjury?

As a reminder the company has already:

  • Failed to deliver the device which they said was close to production two years ago and for which they raised over $380k on Indiegogo.

  • Admitted in investor docs that they still haven’t figured out how to deliver a device capable of doing many of the things that it claimed were tested and ready for shipping two years ago.
  • Missed countless revised delivery dates including, most recently, a promise to deliver at least some beta devices at the end of last month.
  • Refused to confirm a new delivery date, or even confirm that any device they finally do deliver will actually do what was promised two years ago.
  • Had their new $1.5m fundraiser kicked off Crowdfunder.com after Pando reported on glaring discrepancies between previous promises and those made in the company’s investment docs.  
  • Threatened to sue Pando if we don’t take down all of our Tellspec coverage. And then later lied about that threat when Pando, obviously, refused to comply.

The most recent attempt to stop us reporting the truth on Tellspec came late last week when CEO Isabel Hoffmann filed a DMCA takedown notice against our document host, Scribd, claiming that, by posting an investor deck which proved the company’s dishonesty, we were infringing on her copyright.

We filed a counter notice on the basis that news organizations are permitted, under the doctrine of fair use, to publish documents for the purposes of “criticism, comment [or] news reporting,”. We also moved the documents on to our alternative host, AWS.

As I wrote last week, the DMCA lays down strict civil and criminal penalties for anyone knowingly filing a false take-down notice. Those penalties can include a charge of perjury.

You might think that, having received our counter notice, Ms. Hoffmann and Tellspec would stop filing baseless DMCA notices. You might even think that, rather than wasting their backers’ money, and their own time, by trying to silence journalists, they might instead use those resources to, say, deliver a damn product.

You’d be wrong.

Yesterday, Pando received notification (embedded below) that Hoffmann and Tellspec have filed another DMCA takedown notice, this time against our alternative document host, AWS. As with the previous notice, Hoffmann has declared “under penalty of perjury” that Pando is unlawfully posting the documents.

We are not.

Even the basic facts Hoffmann states in the notice — again, under penalty of perjury — aren’t accurate:

These are company confidential documents for investors that were not posted for public consumption, and then obtained from Crowdfunder.org in an unauthorized manner before being posted as “journalism”.

We know this is not authorized. Pando.com acknowledged that Crowdfunder failed to verify them as certified investors and PandoDaily leaked our information to the public.

Except that’s not what happened.

As I wrote last week, the documents posted on Crowdfunder were available to anyone, not just accredited investors. In fact, as I wrote last week, users were able to access the documents despite explicitly saying they were not accredited.

But that’s really not the point: Regardless of where and how Tellspec first posted the documents, they clearly show that the company made numerous false representations to potential investors to try to raise $1.5m in funding, on top of its $380k Indiegogo campaign.

As a result, what Ms. Hoffmann describes as “leaking our information to the public,” the law calls something else:

News reporting.

Of course we’ve filed another counter-notice and of course we’ve taken steps to ensure the Tellspec documents remain posted on Pando. Ms. Hoffmann and Tellspec can file a billion baseless DMCA notices, we’ll just keep on reporting on the company, backed up by clear documentary evidence of their wrongdoing.

That said, if Ms. Hoffmann and Tellspec really believe they have a legal basis for shutting down our reporting, their next step is clear: They should stop abusing DMCA take down notices and actually file a copyright infringement lawsuit. That’s what someone with a legitimate claim would do. And we know for a fact that Hoffmann has our lawyer’s contact details: She called him the last time she threatened to sue Pando.

I’ve contacted Tellspec for comment on this story but they haven’t yet responded. I’m also trying to reach a human being at Amazon to clarify their policy on protecting journalists who use their platform.

************** Original Complaint **************

To Whom it may concern,

As per the email below here is information requested:

* A description of the copyrighted work that you claim has been infringed
upon;
These are company confidential documents for investors that were not posted
for public consumption, and then obtained fromCrowdfunder.org
in an unauthorized manner before being posted as
“journalism”.

* A description of where the material that you claim is infringing is
located on the Site;
https://s3.amazonaws.com/pando-assets/uploads/Tellspec_TellSpec-Investor-De...
https://s3.amazonaws.com/pando-assets/uploads/Tellspec_Executive-Summary_09...
https://s3.amazonaws.com/pando-assets/uploads/Tellspec_QA-Tellspec_09-18-20...



* Your address, telephone number, and e-mail address;
Address: 7B Pleasant Blvd, Suite 991, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4T 1K2,
4166665028, info@tellspec.com

* A statement by you that you have a good-faith belief that the
disputed use is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the
law;
We know this is not authorized. Pando.com acknowledged
that Crowdfunder failed to verify them as certified investors and
PandoDaily leaked our information to the public.

* A statement by you, made under penalty of perjury, that the above
information in your notice is accurate and that you are the copyright owner
or authorized to act on the copyright owner’s behalf.
This is a true statement of the facts.


Thank you

Isabel Hoffmann