Magnet Madness: Legal Threats, DMCA Takedowns & Goofy Videos & Photos -- But No Actual Lawsuits

from the magnet-fight dept

For a while now, people have been submitting versions of this video made by a guy from Zen Magnets, in which he both reveals a voicemail he received from Jake Bronstein, the owner of competing firm Buckyballs, and then proceeds to compare the two products. Apparently, it all started when Zen Magnets decided to sell a package of both its own magnets and Buckyballs' competing product, in order to let people compare directly. Bronstein didn't like the public claims that Zen Magnets were better, so he left an angry ranting voicemail, demanding they show official testing results by the end of the day or he would get an "army of lawyers" after Zen Magnets:
Zen Magnet's response is cute, if at times juvenile. Beyond playing the message, they then compared the two sets of magnets on screen, highlighting various tests which they claim show that Zen Magnets' offering is of higher quality. Where the story then got weird, is that the Zen Magnets' video disappeared -- the result of a DMCA takedown.

Now, Bronstein appears to be admitting that he sent the takedown notice, because the video includes a few photos of him (ever so briefly). That seems like a pretty clear abuse of the DMCA takedown process, as it would be difficult to argue that the use of those photos was not fair use. Of course, at the same time, Bronstein also admits that his voicemail "was off the Douche-o-meter" and sent Gizmodo a photo of him holding a trophy for the "Douchiest Voicemail of the Year."

Of course, I'd argue that the bogus DMCA takedown was even worse than the voicemail, but none of this fight does Buckyballs any favors whatsoever. In their anger at being compared to Zen Magnets, the company has come off as petty, vindictive, willing to make questionable use of the law to silence criticism... and, at the same time, called a lot more attention to all of that. Perhaps if they'd just let the original eBay sales go through without comment, things wouldn't be so bad. And, after all, if they really believe that their own magnets are better than Zen Magnets', then, um, wouldn't they be happy that Zen Magnets was out selling their products for them?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 4:53pm

    Can you claim fair use in what is really a commercial?

     

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  2.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 5:05pm

    This was really a hoot..

    There are few things funnier on this planet than a good 'ol nerd-fight.

    Simpson's writers, take note.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 5:07pm

    Re:

    Yes.

     

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  4.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 5:13pm

    I

    That is all.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 5:42pm

    The army of the dead zombie lawyers.

     

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  6.  
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    Perry K (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 5:46pm

    streisand strikes again

    I've never heard of either company of these magnetic balls but now I'm inclined to get me some of the obviously better quality zen magnets

     

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  7.  
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    abc gum, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 6:01pm

    I doubt that anyone will be brought up on charges of bogus DMCA takedown anytime soon. It is a one way street. That is what was intended and that is what is being implemented. Soon everyone will become used to it and it will become accepted as just the way it is. At that point they will be able to foist upon the unsuspecting public the next series of abuses which will be met with the same lackluster response enabling the continued advancement of their sickening agenda.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 6:19pm

    Re:

    Why don't we ask the failed AT&T lawsuits against Verizon?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 6:54pm

    Seems they're out of stock until Saturday. Ready... Set... Bookmark.

     

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  10.  
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    Borg Tech (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 7:00pm

    Really?

    A p**sing contest about magnet balls even including a DMCA takedown? What has our so-called civilization come too?

    I cant beleive that there wasn't a fit thrown about his phone (or possibly google voice) number and verbally shared email address being shared instead a pitch about his picture or images being shown.

     

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  11.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 7:05pm

    Re:

    Yes, you can claim fair use even in a video that you are selling.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 7:34pm

    from zenmagnets website:
    "Warnings:
    » Try not to drop them. Ever play with magnets in sand? Ferric dirt particles are hard to get off super-magnets, and will quickly erode the poles.
    » Zen Magnets can destroy or disrupt magnetically sensitive technology. Be cautious with the ends of open chains.
    » Can cause serious problems if swallowed. Do not give to kids under the age of 12, and keep them away from pets. Call poison control if more than 1 magnet is swallowed."

    i really want to make an open chain and wander about the neighborhood to see what will happen.

     

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  13.  
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    Aspherical (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 7:44pm

    Re: Really?

    Yea, the inclusion phone number was probably more direct trouble for mr buckyballs than the images. Thought it was cool of them to to end with: "For manners sake, please don't spam Brownstiens email."

     

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  14.  
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    MadderMak (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 7:54pm

    Striesand Reverse Marketing FTW!

    What is hilarious for me is I have actually been looking at getting some of this (from thinkgeek) - and it would have been the buckyballs cause the name was just so cute.

    Well it looks like the Zenballs will be the place to go.

    I salute them for putting their product out there in a comparison video for everyone to make their own judgement over (and note the measurement methods strongly support any interested geek or norm to repeat the tests at bugger all cost). Kinda like open source that way.

     

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  15.  
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    Borg Tech (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 8:04pm

    Re: Striesand Reverse Marketing FTW!

    Saw them on thinkgeek and thought about it also.. Not anymore.

     

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  16.  
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    Borg Tech (profile), Sep 30th, 2010 @ 8:11pm

    effective marketing

    Seems to be a very effective marketing strategy to have invoked a response by the competitor of a lesser and larger product. Hats off to due diligence and innovation.

     

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  17.  
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    TheStupidOne, Sep 30th, 2010 @ 9:26pm

    A while ago ...

    I bought some zen magnets that were discounted because of a manufacturing error that left them some very small amount oversized (.005 inches maybe?) In spite of that they are really cool toys :)

    Also my first thought on seeing the video ... I HAVE THAT SHIRT!

     

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  18.  
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    abc gum, Oct 1st, 2010 @ 5:17am

    This interaction might just bring them closer together, because this could be a polarizing issue if their priorities are in alignment.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2010 @ 6:14am

    Opposites attract themselves?

     

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  20.  
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    Matthew (profile), Oct 1st, 2010 @ 8:02am

    The cost of being a douchebag...

    I had Buckyballs on a wishlist of geek toys. After seeing this i deleted them from the wishlist and went and bought some Zen Magnets. I didn't do it because of the quality claims (Honestly - who really cares if the standard deviation of their desk toy is 13.7e-3 or 5.3e-3?) I did it because i don't like giving money to douchebags. So i guess the cost of being a douchebag is about $25 in this case.

    (Actually, the Zen Magnets guy seemed kind of douche-y too, but the lesser of two douchebags award goes to the one that fights with juvenile humor and science instead of the one who uses bogus DMCA takedowns and legal threats.)

     

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  21.  
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    Matthew (profile), Oct 1st, 2010 @ 8:08am

    Re: The cost of being a douchebag...

    Oops...make that "tried to buy" - out of stock. Apparently The Streisand effect is working for the Zen Magnets guys.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2010 @ 8:11am

    Great businessmen find out how the competitions version is a better product and then revamp their product to be a little better. Make a fun war out of it. Remember the so-called fall of the Soviet Union. Just make a better missile. Even better, advertise that you are making a better Missile.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Re:

     

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  24.  
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    Joe Magly (profile), Oct 1st, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: The cost of being a douchebag...

    Same here, I love playing with magnets and tend to buy stuff like this on impulse.

    Zen just made a sale, as soon as I find them in stock.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2010 @ 8:27am

    Re: streisand strikes again

    Same here. I didnt know what they were till I saw this and now I want some. Zen Balls that is.

     

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  26.  
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    Enigma, Nov 15th, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    The REAL story...

    I bet they're really the same company and it's all fake competition as a PR stunt. ;^)

    ...oh yeah, and it's also all a plot to allow the government to read your thoughts.

     

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


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