Universal Studios Misses A Chance To Be Awesome And Instead Tries To DMCA Leak Of Unfinished 'Mummy' Trailer

from the sigh dept

Universal Pictures, it will not surprise you, has a long history of being overtly protectionist on anything to do with its intellectual property. This has led to stories both funny and infuriating. The studio’s legal team, for instance, once asked Google to delist 127.0.0.1 for piracy, with that IP address essentially serving to denote the machine currently in operation. It’s “home”, in other words. On the other side, Universal’s lawyers sent out licensing bills to fans its marketing team had asked to pimp one of its movies for free.

Universal keeps a tight grip in an attempt to control everything to do with its products, in other words. But when the internet is involved, such attempts at control can go horribly, horribly wrong. Such is the case with the recent leak of an unfinished trailer for the upcoming film The Mummy.

Yesterday morning very few people knew that a new version of The Mummy will be on the big screen next summer. That changed quickly when an unfinished trailer of the film was accidentally put online by IMAX’s YouTube account. As it turns out, the trailer where Tom Cruise is screaming without sound effects is quite an entertaining watch. Soon, the mistake was reposted all over the Internet, where it triggered a meme fest. Great promotion for the film, one would think, but the bosses at Universal Pictures weren’t smiling.

Let me make this more clear: this trailer, and memes incorporating it, were everywhere these past couple of days. And, to a lesser extent, they still are out there. Not with any sort of approval by Universal, of course, whose lawyers have been firing off DMCA notices to take down the trailer wherever they can find it.

On Twitter alone, several people had their postings removed over copyright infringement claims. According to the movie studio, the “leaked” trailer is not for the public’s eyes.

“The uploaded trailer was a leaked version without sound fx. This was accidentally released online but is not intended to be available for public viewing. We have removed it from YouTube, but it is still populating on Twitter,” they write.

Indeed it is, and it’s not difficult to understand why. On the one hand, the trailer without sound effects and music is truly hilarious and entertaining. In fact, one wonders if any polished and completed trailer could garner so much attention as this unfinished one. On the other hand, it’s quite interesting to get a glimpse at what the unpolished footage looks like, and to understand how much a musical score and sound work add to the experience. Whichever angle you come at it from, it’s fun.

And it was a massive opportunity for Universal Pictures to join in on the fun, be awesome and human, and enjoy all of the massive and free publicity its unreleased movie was suddenly getting. Sure, the trailer is goofy without the production values the completed product will enjoy. But so what? Everyone understands that. And everyone realizes that the studio had no intention of the public seeing this version of the trailer. But now that it’s out, Universal should be doing everything it can to supercharge the viral nature of all of this free publicity and bending some good will from the public. Instead, they are trying to shut the whole thing down.

Which, of course, isn’t working.

As a result, many copies that were posted on Twitter, YouTube and elsewhere are no longer working. However, there is so much interest in the trailer that Universal can’t really keep up. For every video that’s pulled offline, several others appear elsewhere. It seems virtually impossible at this point to put the genie back in the bottle. In fact, the trailer has become a fertile breeding ground for memes, with people adding their own soundtrack or using Tom Cruise’s scream as the modern-day Wilhelm scream to pimp other videos.

And this sort of thing will only be furthered now that reports are out about Universal’s attempt to unring the bell. So, the lawyers will accomplish nothing other than to create animosity where there was once only interest. Great job all around.

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Companies: universal pictures

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Comments on “Universal Studios Misses A Chance To Be Awesome And Instead Tries To DMCA Leak Of Unfinished 'Mummy' Trailer”

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14 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This is pure marketing genius I reckon … imagine releasing a trailer (with a logo saying “for meme use” or something), which is unfinished and basically inviting the internet to add their own dialog, music and effects .. they could even have a contest for most views on Youtube where the winner and 10 friends get VIP treatment to the red carpet premier

Maybe The Lego Ninjago Movie (Sept 22, 2017), because lip syncing wouldn’t be needed 🙂 .. as long as the visual material lends to a lot of imagination ..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

TL;DR: Copyright & Trademark laws suck

I’ll try to play the straight man here:
They simply can’t (well they can but they won’t).
If they were to organize this as a contest it would have to be some “US and Canada, 18+ only” BS. You’d also have to upload your remix to a specific place and waive any rights you have. You also couldn’t remix the remix.

Now if they could allow non-commercial use (HA HA! Have fun with that https://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/Defining_Noncommercial).
That would mean a few things:
1. Anyone could do ANYTHING and it might tarnish “THE BRAND” :-O
2. Depending on the circumstances it could weaken some of their trademarks at a later date (yes US law is dumb like that)
3. People could reuse the footage in their own unrelated non-commercial productions.

Now a CC license would solve this but those come with their own set of issues: https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20160204120332/http://practicum.brooklaw.edu/sites/default/files/print/pdfs/journals/journal-law-and-policy/volume-17/issue-1/jlp_v17i_7.pdf

OH yeah BTW linking is illegal in Germany 😛

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