Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick




Best Buy Repeats Past Attempts At Unfairly Forcing Black Friday Prices Off The Web

from the cease-and-desist-just-for-the-hell-of-it dept

Back in 2002, we had a story about Wal-Mart forcing the site FatWallet to take down post-Thanksgiving sale prices, claiming they were a copyright violation. Of course, as everyone should know, you can't copyright facts -- and prices are facts. FatWallet fought back, challenging this abuse of the DMCA -- which forced Wal-Mart to backdown. The following year, other retailers, including Best Buy, Target and Kohl's threatened FatWallet again. Apparently, Best Buy learned absolutely nothing from the experience, as they've gone and threatened another site, BlackFriday, for posting the same information this year. Unlike FatWallet, however, BlackFriday has backed down and taken down the information -- even though they have no legal reason to. It's clear that Best Buy (whose lawyers clearly know better) are simply betting that in using a cease & desist DMCA claim, even if it's not valid, they can scare the site into taking the content down -- which is exactly what happened. That's a clear abuse of the DMCA, creating the famed "chilling effects." However, as it stands, there's simply no punishment for abusing the DMCA this way and there are few entities willing to actually stand up against such a misuse.

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  1. identicon
    Wyndle, 16 Nov 2006 @ 8:19am

    More on topic now...

    ... that my rant is over.

    Best Buy wants the ads stopped to reduce the number of people who are coming in to buy only the sale items. The markdown on those items is a sales concept called "Loss-Leader" and it is very common. For example, your local grocer sends out a weekly sales ad showing what is on sale. Those sale items are typically closer to the back of the store and near complimentary items that are not on sale. A specific example would be a sale on BrandX Tortila Chips and those chips would be located next to a big display of BrandZ Salsa and BrandB Cheese Sauce that are not on sale.

    If the ads stayed online it would increase the number of people who are only interested in the marked down prices which results in a net loss instead of a net profit. The only thing keeping these stores from stopping the net ads is that the sales prices are fact.


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