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
    Walt, 16 Nov 2006 @ 9:12am

    Re: More on topic now... and the right site this t

    I think you have a valid theory here, but what I think the real strategy here is to keep other retailers from undercutting them. Wal-mart has a 32" lcd hdtv as an early-bird special for $600, now they see that BB is going to have a comparable product for $479 at the same time. So then Wal-mart counters with a better deal and now BB lost their market edge. Don't think so? http://money.cnn.com/2006/11/15/news/companies/walmart_onlinesales/index.htm?postversion=2006111515

    Some of you may bring up that BB and Wal-mart aren't competitors, but in many areas they are. In my hometown, they practically share a parking lot. To the wife who is buying a tv for dad, 1080p versus 1080i means nothing. The logic is "Who cares if it's a Sylvania (or Westinghouse) instead of a Samsung (or Phillips) when I can get one that is 3" bigger for $300 less?" These circulars all go out in the same papers, and bargain hunters don't care what the store name is.

    I'm sure many of you are thinking, why would I buy at WM or BB when I could buy it online cheaper? Well that's you, a techdirt reader, not the millions of soccer moms out there that beat down doors every year.

    It's happening. I see a push towards Apple type secrecy with Black Friday sales starting next year. I love to see pesky consumers get in the way of companies sticking it to us. Everyone is going to try their best to undercut their competitors. I think a movement should be started to make Black Friday be the national holiday in honor of capitalism. I think Adam Smith Day should work just fine. Everyone outside of retail has the day off already anyways right?

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