Forbes Takes On The Streisand Effect; If I Ask Them To Take It Down Will It Become More Famous?

from the hello,-lawyers dept

Earlier this week I spent nearly an hour on the phone with Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg discussing the concept behind "The Streisand Effect," the phrase I jokingly coined, which has taken on a life of its own. He's now written up an article looking at the Streisand Effect and how not understanding it has backfired for so many companies (and governments). The key is pretty simple, I think. Lawyers who are used to taking a hard stance in a negotiation do things the way they always have: send out a nasty cease-and-desist letter that they view as the opening play. When people receive such a nasty, threatening communication, they feel like they're being bullied (and often, that's true). And, these days, it's much easier for anyone to respond to being bullied by letting others know who the bully is, exposing them as a bully. If there really is a miscommunication, a much smarter way to deal with it is to keep the lawyers away, and simply contact the person or site who's doing something you think is wrong to see if there's a way to fix what's wrong. Most of the conversation with Greenberg, though, was trying to come up with the best examples of the Streisand Effect in action, which he then put into one of Forbes.com's infamous slide shows. There are many more examples that didn't make the cut, but it was fun to go back through some of the older ones. In the meantime, maybe I should send Forbes a cease-and-desist for using the phrase. After all, that will only make it more popular, right?


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  1.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, May 11th, 2007 @ 7:16pm

    Lawyers

    One of the problems with lawyers is that they always err on the side of being more aggressive than their client for fear of accidently conceding something the client did not want to concede.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 11th, 2007 @ 8:33pm

    Naah, let it become a part of pop culture and then sue.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    rEdEyEz, May 11th, 2007 @ 9:06pm

    know more, please...

    Just get Andy (and Babs, - she'll want her cut), to listen to the extended play version of Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" and that'll cure'em

    "And friends they may thinks it's movement."

     

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  4.  
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    Nick, May 12th, 2007 @ 12:55am

    seems like its common sense to me

     

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  5.  
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    The Brothers, May 12th, 2007 @ 4:29am

    Easy way to promote Techdirt: SUE!

    Want to really spread the gospel of Techdirt? Sue Forbes to try and get them to stop using the term "Streisand Effect". Sure, the suit would be frivolous, but the resulting chaos on Digg would be priceless publicity. It would guarantee that the term achieved Internet immortality. It would also be one of the tightest possible bits of irony.

    (PS - See Mike, I don't just hate on Techdirt, I want to help!)

     

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  6.  
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    The Swiss Cheese Monster, May 12th, 2007 @ 5:14am

    Using the Streisand Effect for you own advantage....

    Brilliant move.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Fred Flint, May 12th, 2007 @ 5:42am

    Re: Your First North American Serial Rights

    I was unaware you coined the term "Streisand Effect" and I've been using it all over the 'Net. Damn, how much do I owe?

     

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  8.  
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    Tarky7, May 12th, 2007 @ 6:26am

    Bravo !

    Shameless Fanboying here !

    Luv tha pic of Babs in the Forbes Article. She's my fave !

     

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  9.  
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    COD, May 12th, 2007 @ 12:51pm

    Even better, think of the publicity if Babs sued Techdirt for using her name to describe a situation in which the lawyers bring excessive and unwanted attention to a situation that would have been better handled outside of the legal system.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Adam, May 12th, 2007 @ 2:33pm

    awesome, mike...

    great to see CNN and Forbes take notice of you -- big kudos!

    as they should, you're an absolute font of (correct) information

     

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  11.  
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    Larry, May 12th, 2007 @ 6:01pm

    Streisand Is A Loser

    The best part about the Streisand story was the fact that she tried to duke it out with a rich guy who told her to go pound sand. Most people wouldn't have the time or the resources to defend themselves in court, but that guy did, and he won. For those who don't know, the man she sued for invasion of privacy was taking pictures of the California coastline as part of an ongoing environmental project. It just so happened that part of her seaside backyard was shown in some of the pictures. You couldn't have identified any personal information no matter how hard you tried.



    Government agencies would never have the resources to pool together this kind of data without the help of these volunteers. Nobody gives a shit about Streisand's backyard. They want to see eroded coastline and physical changes, not aging booty in a see-through nightie, flipping the bird to the guy who dared to take pictures of her precious backyard.

     

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  12.  
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    Jacob Buck, May 12th, 2007 @ 9:45pm

    you can't Streisand effect the Streisand effect! What're you trying to do, cause the whole time-space continuum to explode?

     

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  13.  
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    Bignumone, May 13th, 2007 @ 4:44am

    Just bloviating

    Thank you Larry for explaining what the "Streisand effect" is. I had no idea!

    It is funny, but that is a perfect illustration of what the author coined the phrase to represent. Good for you, Mike, good eye!

    What is truly astounding is how we seem to think being a bully is the way to handle everything. Had Streisand just called the photographer and talked, those photos may never have seen any more light of day. Instead, she looked like more of an ass than we all know she is. (I blame that on 'star mentality', but that is a different subject) The same with many cease and desist letters. A judicious phone call or nice letter explaning why people need to stop what they are doing avoids many hard feelings. But we don't do that, we call out the 'big dogs'.

    Ahhh, anyhow, I think this is what Mike was getting at originally. I will cease and desist now.

     

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  14.  
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    Abe, May 13th, 2007 @ 10:33am

    Re: Lawyers

    I canĀ“t play You Tube please help me

     

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  15.  
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    Paul, May 13th, 2007 @ 10:20pm

    I find it hilarious that the only place I have ever heard "The Streisand Effect" is on tech dirt, yet every time Mike mentions it he makes it out to be as popular a term as "Bennifer"

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2007 @ 1:59am

    Re:

    > I find it hilarious that the only place I have ever heard "The Streisand Effect" is on tech dirt, yet every time Mike mentions it he makes it out to be as popular a term as "Bennifer"

    Um. Paul? The whole point of this post is that Forbes has a whole article about "The Streisand Effect." In other words, it obviously has become a lot more popular than here on this site. I don't think Forbes writes about stuff that is only popular on one blog.

    Also, Paul, there's a great site called Google that lets you do a thing called a "search". If you do one of these "searches" on "streisand effect" you might notice that there are 590,000 results -- most of which are not on tech dirt at all.

    In other words, go back to your little cave and come back when you learn to use the Internet.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2007 @ 2:02am

    Re: Re:

    Oh yeah. And Bennifer? Only 186,000 results. So, if Mike thinks it's as popular as Bennifer... he might be right.

    http://www.googlefight.com/index.php?lang=en_GB&word1=streisand+effect&word2=benni fer

     

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