Copyright, Investigative Reporting Online... And Domino's Pizza Grossout

from the putting-it-all-together dept

People have been submitting various versions of the infamous Domino's Pizza employee grossout video of two employees doing... er... bad things to food, that's been the talk of the social media world all week, but there really didn't seem to be that much of real interest to talk about here -- or at least nothing that hadn't really been discussed to death elsewhere. As plenty of folks have pointed out, the whole event and Domino's reaction (who knows how successful it will eventually be) will certainly become a regular case study concerning "social media" and how companies can and should respond to certain events. On the whole, I think Domino's has made the best of a really awful situation which has no really good response.

That said, there were two interesting side stories involved in all of this that haven't received much additional attention, but both seem to fit into themes we discuss here on a regular basis. The first is that, in the NY Times' coverage of the story, it notes that the woman involved, Kristy Hammonds, eventually used a copyright claim to get the video taken down from YouTube -- though, of course, they're now available in many more places. It seems like an odd sort of thing to try to pull down via a copyright claim. After all, she had put the video up on YouTube in the first place, even if she later came to regret it. And, by this point, the video is clearly part of a larger news story, so it's not clear if there's really a legitimate DMCA takedown to be issued over the video... Of course, in the end, it's really a meaningless gesture. The video is spread so far and wide that no takedown is going to make it disappear.

The second issue of relevance is the fact that it was folks online at the always excellent Consumerist website who were able to take the original video and track down the actual location of the Domino's franchise in question, and to alert Domino's corporate execs. While we keep hearing old school journalists whine about how no investigative reporting gets done without newspapers, this situation shows exactly how a group of motivated, interested folks, can do plenty of sleuthing and exposing of malfeasance themselves. That's not to say, of course, that this is "the model" for investigative journalism -- but to show that the whole space is changing these days, and it no longer requires a classically trained journalist in every situation. If an investigation needs to happen, there are ways to make it happen.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Matt T., Apr 16th, 2009 @ 1:44pm

    Regular Case Study

    In the clickthrough they said that Domino's is going to ban videocameras in stores now. I know that I would feel a lot better knowing that steps were being taken to keep things like this from happening, and not just keep people from finding out.

     

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  2.  
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    Bobby McDoogle, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    I am no private investigator...

    I am no private investigator, but wouldn't it be a good idea to REQUIRE cameras in all locations as a way to ensure that this does not happen, and if it does, a way to punish those that might do this type of thing?

    Sounds like once again, corporate America has gotten this all wrong. From now on, I am only going to eat booger pizza from Pizza Hut.

     

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  3.  
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    Paul Levy, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:03pm

    DMCA and Consumerist

    Good point on the DMCA, which I discuss on the CLP Blog .

    Although I share your admiration for the Consumerist, I am not sure I would use their investigative reporting to show that we don't need the institutional media. The Consumerist is part of Consumers Union, after all, which DOES have very substantial resources to throw at reporting of important stories.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Regular Case Study

    Honestly, I'd rather they REQUIRE cameras in stores then ban them, if you know what I mean.

     

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  5.  
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    Bobby McDoogle, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:08pm

    Re: DMCA and Consumerist

    I think that you miss the point that Mike makes. He is simply making the point that it is POSSIBLE to truly have investigative reporting without print media. This does not necessarily preclude the possibility that the entity providing the investigative reporting has substantial resources to provide the information. The matter is clear, the Consumerist was able to actually deliver some true investigative reporting, heretofore believed by the print media a feat only possible by the professionals employed by large print organizations.

    Booya!

     

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  6.  
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    Bobby McDoogle, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re: Regular Case Study

    Good point Coward, but it was a point made 4 minutes before you. Just kidding. I am bored.

     

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  7.  
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    Mark, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:18pm

    Re: DMCA and Consumerist

    If you check the Consumerist post on the subject, it was the Consumerist or Consumers Union who did the work. Rather it was two readers of the blog who, with no financial motive at all, figure out where the location was and reported it.

    Think of it as crowdsourcing some of the background work that journalists probably need and probably, dislike doing.

     

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  8.  
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    Mark, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re: DMCA and Consumerist

    Oops, that first sentence should be "it wasn't the Consumerist..." not was

     

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  9.  
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    Bobby McDoogle, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re: DMCA and Consumerist

    Mark, I would like to add one word to your awesome post...

    BOOYA!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:20pm

    Last time I went to Domino to pick up a pizza the guy was using the pizza cutter and lifter to clean gum off from under the tables. I saw him doing this when I came in to get my order. I said I had phoned an order in. He got up and with the same tools pulled the pizza from the oven and then cut it. I left the store before the pizza hit the box (or maybe the floor).
    I have never even considered ordering from that disgusting chain ever again.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:21pm

    Re: DMCA and Consumerist

    As far as I could see, the 'resources' involved were a couple of sharp Googlers who happen to frequent the Consumerist blog and had the quick wits to pass the info along to Domino execs.

    A few months ago Consumerist posters performed a similar service by tracking down an iPhone thief who was using the stolen gadget to post pictures of himself on FaceBook or similar. It helped that the victim had set all outgoing emails up to copy to the phone. Consumerist posters had the thief's whereabouts, email, and pleas for mercy (ha - those pictures were embarrassing) nailed down within an hour, and the phone was returned a few days later.

    Consumerist.com could possibly make some money selling scarce goods like capes and tights. ;D

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: DMCA and Consumerist

    D'oh - he set up his emails to be copied to his home email address, rather.

     

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  13.  
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    Bobby McDoogle, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:29pm

    Re:

    Two days ago I would have found this story hard to believe, but now, well now is a different time. I wonder if when I am old and gray I will tell my grandchildren about a time when you could order a Dominos pizza without having to run it through the home irradiation device to ensure that it was safe to eat.

    I think from now on when I order pizza, before I pay the delivery driver, I am going to require that they eat a few bites. I will then ask him to stay on my porch for 18-37 minutes to see if he gets physically ill. If not, then I pay him, give him the standard $.45 tip, and send him on his way. If he does get sick, if it did not land directly on the pizza, I will scoop it off the floor and deposit onto the pizza, and then ask nicely that he return the pizza to his store and require that his manager eat it.

    I am still piecing this plan together, sorry if it is a little rough.

     

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  14.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 16th, 2009 @ 3:43pm

    Re: DMCA and Consumerist

    Although I share your admiration for the Consumerist, I am not sure I would use their investigative reporting to show that we don't need the institutional media. The Consumerist is part of Consumers Union, after all, which DOES have very substantial resources to throw at reporting of important stories.

    Two points: I didn't say we didn't need institutional media, I said that investigative reporting would be done in many different ways.

    And... the investigative reporting was not done by the Consumerist blog, but by its readers...

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 4:10pm

    this stuff happens in EVERY restaurant to some degree. it has nothing to do with certain chains, but far more with certain people.

    also, bobby mcdoogle, most times the delivery driver never sees the pizzas himself. they are usually made by someone in shop and already boxed for him to pick up and deliver quickly.

     

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  16.  
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    TDR, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 6:01pm

    And a $.45 tip is just pathetic, Bobby. Cheapskate.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 6:03pm

    Did they charge for an extra topping?

     

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  18.  
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    JC, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 6:08pm

    Investigative Reporting

    I think the point on reporting in general has has been missed by both the organized media and much of the internet. There has been a vault of reporting on the internet, including investigative reporting, that was substantial, useful, and important. The difficulty with the internet (and for that matter, everything back to gossiping over the fence) has been separating the wheat from the chaff. The importance of newspapers, etc, often has been to provide that function. Give us what is actually news and leave the garbage out. They no longer do that. That is why they are dying. As the mainstream media continues to devolve into nothing better than giant gossip columns, they will continue to die. They increasingly provide less and less value over what people can do for themselves, so why should anyone use their services?

     

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  19.  
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    David Muir, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 11:07pm

    The two side issues

    I am glad to see TechDirt focus in on the two side issues of copyright and investigative journalism via alternatives to print media. It made me so angry to hear that one of the perpetrators had pulled down the video from YouTube by claiming copyright on it. Doesn't that seem a bit like using copyright as the fishing line and wad of chewing gum to get the letter you really shouldn't have mailed back out of the mailbox?

     

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  20.  
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    Shane, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 1:04am

    investigative reportin

    I just wanted to bring your attention to the case of Kenny Glenn, animal abuser, who was also tracked down (within hours) by an online community, not a traditional Journalist.

    Kenny and his older brother posted a video on Youtube depicting the abuse of their cat Dusty. The story was picked up by 4chan.org and Kenny was found within hours, on a volunteer basis.

    I've got a few good friends in the journalism business, so i hate to see it go down like this, but they really have little by way of comparitive advantage when amateurs and volunteers can provide the same services.

    I love this site, by the way. Keep it up!

     

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