Labatt Threatens To Sue Newspaper For Showing Photo of Suspected Killer Holding Its Beer

from the ip-rights-gone-insane dept

If you follow the news for gruesome murders, you’re probably well aware of Luka Magnotta, the Canadian who’s been accused of killing Lin Jun — filming the entire thing (and posting it online), then dismembering the body, eating some of it, and sending parts of it to various political offices (separately, he was also accused of making a series of videos in which he tortures and kills cats). Either way, he’s become something of a news sensation — and after a relatively short manhunt, was tracked down and arrested in Berlin. All of that, of course, has nothing to do with stuff that we normally talk about here.

However, as David Canton alerts us, Canadian beer giant Labatt Breweries is now threatening to sue the Montreal Gazette, because in reporting on this story, the Gazette used a photo of Magnotta, showing him holding a bottle of Labatt Blue:

“As I am sure you can understand, this image is highly denigrating to our brand, and we are disturbed that this image remains on your site despite repeated requests and the many images available of this person,” Karyn Sullivan, Labatt’s associate general counsel, wrote in a letter to the Gazette.

Of course, as even the article about this explains, Labatt is “exacerbating the damage” by not just mentioning it, but threatening to sue to get the picture taken down. There’s simply no legitimate legal issue here. As the Gazette properly pointed out in response: “The image originally appeared on Magnotta’s personal Facebook page and on his blog and thus is newsworthy. There is no connection made between the brand and the suspect in the accompanying caption, headline or news story.”

Except that, now that Labatt has threatened to sue, there is a connection. If someone at Labatt had simply understood the very basics of the Streisand Effect, they would have known better. It seems like perhaps Labatt should spend a bit more time hiring better lawyers, rather than worrying about a photo of an accused killer drinking its beer.

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Companies: labatt breweries, montreal gazette

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Comments on “Labatt Threatens To Sue Newspaper For Showing Photo of Suspected Killer Holding Its Beer”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The fact they thought they had a case to begin with is the story.
Or do you believe we should edit factual information like they do in movies to blur out logos and such to protect companies special rights?

He posted a picture of him drinking a beer, there was not a story attached about how Blue allegedly made him a murderer.
The fact they went stupid deserves to be reported and the should be a discussion about what kind of idiots run Labatt that their biggest concern is ZOMG we look bad by association.
Maybe we missed how many drunk driving accidents are caused by people using their product as intended and we should focus on how much they spend on advertising and how much they spend on the drink responsibly message.
(I’m still a big believer in personal responsibility, but if their product being incidentally shown in a news story has their panties this bunched why not the number of deaths they contribute to?)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think that their concern is that their logo isn’t “incidental”, it’s pretty much the only focus point of the image aside from the guy’s face. While it may have been accidental, the image looks very much like an attempt to do the “beer spokesman” look (the murder was an aspiring model and douche nozzle).

The image could easily have been cropped to remove the label. They didn’t, and they are well within the law. Labatt only appears to be pointing out that it’s a pretty poor choice.

It’s a non-story, really.

MrWilson says:

I think this is just a part of the absurdity that is advertising. Corporate marketing people spend their lives trying to make people associate their brands with particular things. Therefore, any association is either positive or negative marketing. They actually believe that consumers are so stupid as to accept those associations (and granted, some probably are, even if subconsciously). For the rest of us, marketing in general is transparent bullshit, so the negative marketing is also just bullshit.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:


And what I think is terrible about marketing is that it makes you want the fictional “features” that the advertisements show that you know aren’t a part of the actual features. Awesome 3d animation will not pop out of your smart phone and dance around you when you use it. People don’t just randomly hand you the keys to their car and expect you to do the same to another stranger where ever you end up going in it.

Sometimes it’s a good thing the features shown in advertisements are fictional. If my cat went on a fantasy acid trip every time it had some fancy feast, I’d be in trouble.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“As I am sure you can understand, this image is highly denigrating to our brand,”

Your actions seemed to hurt your brand a hell of a lot more.
But feel free to pick some new slogans your “fans” on twitter have offered you…!/search/%23newlabattcampaign

Labatt Blue: Tastes great, less filling, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. #newlabattcampaign

Labatt Blue: All Beer, No Head. #newlabattcampaign

This Beer’s for You. And the Voices in Your Head. #newlabattcampaign

Damage control…. your doing it wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:


For all the crying “think of the children” that they use when trying to censor or restrict, you sure don’t hear about it when it comes to advertising. All advertising to children is harmful and impacts children negatively. And now FakeBook will be gathering data on the 13 and unders to better target them with manipulative messages and propaganda.

Anonymous Coward says:

Was it the Labatt Blue or the person holding the Labatt Blue that caused the crime? That will always be the question. We should require everyone register their Labatt Blue and take Labatt Blue training certification before being allowed to buy a Labatt Blue. Each state or province should have their own regulations regarding the sale and use of Labatt Blue especially if someone wants to conceal carry their Labatt Blue. If anyone moves into a neighborhood after having been found to have committed an offense involving a Labatt Blue they should register as a Labatt Blue offender in the local registry and the neighbors should have flyer handed to them identifying the Labatt Blue offender and what he did with his Labatt Blue so they can take safeguards.

Someone needs to start a petition!

PRK (profile) says:

The LaBatt Protect the IP Image Act of 2012

We obviously need a law prohibitting anyone with a criminal mind from associating with any known brand for fear that it will harm the entire inustry of North America.

When asked for comment, Mr. LaBatt said “we are doing this for the children. Think of how they would otherwise suffer from not being able to enjoy a beer for fear of its association with violent criminals..”

Reached in his cozy confines in Berlin, Mr. Magnotta said, “what’s a LaBatt? I just used a stick and a knife…?

News was also received indicating Facebook was considering action against LaBatt on the grounds that but for the LaBatt’s beer, Magnott would not have seemed interesting enough to have his photo taken and included in Facebook and thus absent the beer, Facebook would not have had its valuable image and IP rights tarnished by the reference in the newspaper.


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