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.

Filed Under: candid camera, contracts, copyright, videos
Companies: wal-mart

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  1. identicon
    Rekrul, 10 Apr 2008 @ 11:48pm

    If WalMart didn't have a contract saying that they owned the rights to the videos in question, then the company has every right to sell them.

    As for the people defending WalMart; I uess you never saw the undercover reports where they sent people to Chinese sweat shops where there were children as young as 9-10 making clothes and asked them "Can we get the same kind of deal as WalMart?" and were told "Sure!". When the tape was played for a WalMart executive, he just sat there with a shocked look on his face and then walked out of the interview.

    One of the WalMart stores that was used in its TV ads to show how dedicated they are to the community and how happy the employees are, was closed not long after the commercial was filmed and all the employees fired.

    Because of its family image, WalMart will only sell movies and music that it approves of. That's their right you say. Yes it is, but they don't just refuse to carry certain CDs/DVDs, they use their large market position to force the music & movie studios to produce edited versions that they can sell. Any time you buy an R-Rated DVD at WalMart, you can never be sure that you're getting an uncensored copy.

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