Dear Wal-Mart Executives: You're On Candid Camera… And There's A Big Market For Those Videos
from the oops dept
Allen Funt, the creator of the famed Candid Camera TV show eventually donated the archives of the show to Cornell University, where it could be used for psychology research — and to entertain the nearly 2,000 students in each year’s psych 101 class. Now another long running set of “candid” videos is getting released, but not for academic purposes. A small company named Flagler Productions has, since the 1970s, filmed Wal-Mart’s internal meetings for archival purposes. Wal-Mart was, effectively, Flagler’s only client (it had a few others, but Wal-Mart represented 95% of the company’s business). In 2006, Wal-Mart fired Flagler, basically taking away nearly all of its revenue. Rather than shut down or find new clients, Flagler realized it possessed an asset and started selling access to the behind-the-scenes videos of Wal-Mart executive meetings. Apparently it’s been of tremendous interest to folks involved in all sorts of lawsuits against Wal-Mart — especially for the clips showing execs mocking women (for a sexual discrimination case).
Of course, some might immediately question whether or not Flagler owns the rights to these videos, but no contract was signed between the parties and no transfer of rights was made — and copyright law basically says whoever recorded it owns the copyright. Of course, the simplest solution would be for Wal-Mart to pay Flagler for the rights — but it would appear there’s something of a gap between asking prices. Wal-Mart has offered $500,000. Flagler wants $145 million. Apparently Flagler realized the best way to bridge the gap was to start selling access to the videos. Wal-Mart hasn’t started any legal proceedings (it’s probably trying to figure out if it has any case at all), but in quite the understatement, noted: “Needless to say, we did not pay Flagler Productions to tape internal meetings with this aftermarket in mind.” Indeed.