Is Leveraging The Streisand Effect Illegal?

from the a-new-anti-streisand-attack dept

A couple years ago, I jokingly coined the phrase "The Streisand Effect," to describe an increasingly common phenomenon. Someone would get upset about something they didn't like online and would have some lawyers send out a nasty cease-and-desist letter to get it taken offline. Such a plan would usually backfire, because getting the lawyers involved would end up drawing much more attention to whatever it was that the lawyers were trying to suppress. The name came from a story from a few years earlier, where Barbara Streisand got upset over a project that involved photos of the entire California shoreline, taken from a helicopter. Her complaint was that her seaside mansion was included among the photos. Of course, before she filed the lawsuit, almost no one knew that. Afterwards, the photo became an internet hit. Since that time, the phrase has grown in popularity -- though, it seems that plenty of folks still don't quite understand it. However, it was only a matter of time until lawyers came up with a way to flip the Streisand Effect around, and use it to their advantage.

Back in May, we had the surprising story of how the head of Sharman Networks (makers of Kazaa, and general pariah of the the recording industry) had sued P2Pnet, an amateur news/blog focusing on file sharing and related issues. It was surprising that she would sue a site that tended to support her position, but her complaint concerned some comments on the site that weren't written by the site's owner, but a visitor (raising plenty of valid questions about liability). The Register now informs us that part of the lawsuit has been dropped, but part of it continues. Sharman itself has dropped out of the case, but Nikki Hemming is still suing the site. This was a classic Streisand Effect case, where almost no one remembered or cared about the specific comments she was upset about -- but which have since received a lot more attention. That's where things get interesting. Hemming's lawyers have updated the lawsuit to claim: "the publicity generated by the lawsuit and subsequent P2Pnet web site hits will counter Newton's legal costs resulting in 'a net profit and ensuring the permanent success of [Newton's] P2P Website.'" It really is a unique strategy: accuse the person you're suing of profiting from the attention you brought him by suing him.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    MrPaladin, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 4:12am

    I'm Outraged!

    I'm outraged by the amount of people who are outraged at stuff these days...

    Theres money to be made in being a victim....

    hey lets Sue Techdirt for.... being informative!!! damn em...

     

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

  2.  
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    Wolfger, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 4:36am

    Streisand will sue Techdirt for bringing her much unwanted negative attention, and for using her name without permission in a catch phrase.

     

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  3.  
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    sector 82, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 4:51am

    hey i dont know if you noticed, but you used the word "and" in your post. "and" is used in s-t-r-e-i-s-AND. i dont think she is going to like that.

     

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  4.  
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    Mr.Cuddles, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 6:03am

    Nothing new

    Print media use the same basic tactic all the time. The Streisand Effect is in reality only describing a media outlet that is willing to publish content (that is legally questionable) and pay the price for doing so by facing and dealing with any legal reprocusions... because they believe that they will benefit from the result of publishing the content regardless. This outlines the basic success of all tabloid media.

    Absolutely nothing new here.

     

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  5.  
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    The Cuddly Otter, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 6:09am

    SO SUE ME! please...

    Some one sue me so I can become a z-list celebrity. I am outraged at my own outrage that people should be outraged by these outrages!!

     

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  6.  
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    I, for one, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 6:54am

    Streisand yarn (possibly very true)

    I used to work in a hotel for the summer where Streisand was an occasional visitor, when she did a singing tour. There was the best room in the building, the main penthouse suite which she always demanded and always got. Everybody had a story about Streisand, about what a witch she was and how rude she was to all the staff and always got what she wanted. Once she had a couple on their honeymoon thrown out of their room so she could have it - or so I heard.

    Anyway, years later I was talking to a guy who was a chef in the same hotel. We got comparing stories and Streisand came up. He started laughing a really wicked way... You know what.. I won't finish the story because it's better left to the imagination but y'know what Barbie Streisand, you can scream and shout and bully and whine like a little girl all you like, but I sure hope you enjoyed that cream bagel and gobbled it all down like a good girl.

     

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  7.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 7:17am

    Today's moral


    I won't finish the story because it's better left to the imagination but y'know what Barbie Streisand, you can scream and shout and bully and whine like a little girl all you like, but I sure hope you enjoyed that cream bagel and gobbled it all down like a good girl.

    Never piss off the people handling your food.



    Let me get this straight.

    I sue a site that in past supported me and my views based on comments made on the site, not by the owners/creators of the site.

    So now the site that sued is getting a lot of free publicity for from my lawsuit.

    So to remedy that I sue the site again for gaining free publicity that was generated by my actions, not the owners/creators of the site.

    This is a classic example of not taking responsibitly for one's own action. If she had kept her mouth shut that comment would have been forgotten in a few weeks at best. Now she has just garaunteed her spot on www.dumbasslawsuits.com (I dont know if thats a reall site or not)

    I can see it now. Artista Records is now suing FYE. The reason? Artista feels that it deserves some of the increased revenues FYE is generating due to carrying the albums of Artist's top musicians. An executive at Artista was quoted, "FYE is making that extra money becuase they are carrying our top artists. We feel some of that revenue belongs to us. We know that we get payed royalties by FYE to sale our....ahem...our artist's music but think about the artists we represent.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Hero, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 7:23am

    We're so proud...

    We're so proud of the Techdirt Author who coined the term "Streisand Effect." So proud we have to make sure they get the credit they deserve by making this point at least once a week. It's that or by continuously reminding us of the term, and who came up with it FRIST!, they're making sure to cement this term as the internet meme of the week...

    It is a cool phenomenon and that is a waaaaay-cool
    house Bab's has. I think I'll go visit there in a few weeks, I'll be in the neighborhood

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 7:42am

    Re: We're so proud...

    No kidding. I've gotten to the point where I'm about to coin a new prase "The Mike Effect" which is where supposeded authors of information of value create story's primarily focused on turning baseless statements into gospel while simultaneously attempting to create an aura of "I know everything" about themselves.

     

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  10.  
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    Shawn Kearney, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 8:32am

    Accountability

    I think this says more about America and their/our overall tone to avoid accountability and responsibility for our actions at all cost, and find slithery, slippery ways around what we bring upon ourselves.

    For those who don't read Kantian philosophy, here's a primer: There are no innocent victims. Stop whining.

     

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  11.  
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    William C Bonner, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 9:05am

    Make Noise! Bring Suit against CNN! ABC! CBS! NBC!

    Those news media companies are profiting from your hardship! You should be able to share in those profits!

     

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  12.  
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    MEoip, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 9:17am

    IN that case

    In that case for $100,000 I will sue Techdirt.

     

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  13.  
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    Jersey204, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 11:40am

    Re: Nothing new

    I don't quite think it's the same. Are you saying that whoever conducted the survey of the CA coast openly viewed the content as legally questionable because of Streisand's house? No way! The publicity blitz didn't come until after a fuss was made...quite different from tabloid exploitation.

     

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  14.  
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    Jersey204, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 11:40am

    Re: Nothing new

    I don't quite think it's the same. Are you saying that whoever conducted the survey of the CA coast openly viewed the content as legally questionable because of Streisand's house? No way! The publicity blitz didn't come until after a fuss was made...quite different from tabloid exploitation.

     

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

  15.  
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    Chris Sullivan, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 1:10pm

    Streisand

    Tiresome term. The fact is that Streisand has had numerous opportunities to sue pepole oiver the many years she has been an entertainer and never did. The supposed "general pictures" of the CA shoreline actually gave quite a lot of detail of the interior of her home and was completely unnecessary to accomplish the supposed task it claimed to set out to do.

    Whether you like her or not, Streisand is a very high profile Jewish woman and has for decades received threats from anti-Jewish groups. These pictures without doubt constitited an unnecessary invasion of privacy that could well have jeopardized her safety as well.

    Streisand was not unaware of the potential negative publicity, but on this one occassion, chose to pursue the matter based on prinicipal.

    Those oare the facts. You can debate it all you want but it won't change a thing.

     

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  16.  
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    Steven, Jul 13th, 2006 @ 3:29pm

    cosby team triosby

    the saddest instance of the streisand effect was with the blessed animated series House Of Cosbys. i still mourn it's loss, and wish more people had the guts (or the resources) to stand up to cease-and-desists.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2011 @ 11:57am

    Re: We're so proud...

    He has taken to editing the article about himself in Wikipedia to emphasize how notable he for coining the term!

     

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


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