Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
intermediary, registrars, spoof, streisand effect

de beers

De Beers About To Learn That The Streisand Effect Is Forever

from the let's-explain-how-this-works dept

It would appear that the lawyers at diamond conglomerate De Beers are unaware of the Streisand Effect. As you might have heard, a week after the US Presidential election, some prankster put out a spoofed version of a future New York Times. It got plenty of attention for a few days and then people moved on. Well, apparently not everyone. De Beers is upset that the online version of the spoof contained a fake De Beers ad. Rather than recognize that this was a spoof (ha ha) that everyone had pretty much forgotten about, the company had its lawyers send off a threat letter. However, rather than target the creators of the spoof, or even the hosting firm, De Beers threatened the registrar who handled the domain registration for the site, demanding that it take down the site or face a trademark infringement lawsuit.

Of course, as the EFF notes at the above link, intermediaries (third party service providers) are clearly well protected against liability for the actions of their users in the US. And, of course, there's the whole issue of parodies being protected from infringement suits. However, even more ridiculous is the fact that De Beers is now calling more attention to the ad. The spoof of the entire newspaper did get some attention, but that attention quickly waned, and it's unlikely that too many people paid attention to the spoof banner ad on a spoof website for the NY Times. I hadn't even heard about the ads. Almost all of the attention was on the spoof stories. Yet, now that De Beers is threatening to sue, a lot more folks are going to know about and see the ad. How is that possibly a smart move on the part of De Beers?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Paul, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 8:59am

    Lawyers need to do something

    Im sure they have lawyers who only get paid when there doing something, thus even when it hurts the companys the lawyers are proactive in doing things to get there numbers up so thay can charge more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Freedom, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 9:04am

    Any publicity is good publicity

    To me, the fact that De Beers has had plenty of bad publicity already and that people still actually buy this over-priced and over-hyped shiny stones indicates that just being in the news isn't a bad thing.

    Besides, this isn't like DRM in Spore or similar, the actions by De Beers has little to no direct effect on actually buyers of their product. As such, it just gets their name in the news and draws more attention to them and the ad as you noted. The real question is, is that a bad thing and for their market I would say no.

    For the few people that it would negatively effect, they probably weren't going to buy the silly rocks in the first place. For the others, it gets them thinking about shiny rocks again which might actually lead to increased sales.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Nate, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 9:24am

    Ha ha!

    You're wrong! I'm never buying another diamond again! Satire like this and the attention the diamond industry has been getting over the last 5-10 years has started to make a real dent in people's perceptions of diamonds -- my wife told me she feels guilty wearing them, and, she adds, "Zirconia are just as good, cheaper, and nobody has to die for them."

    Picking the scab, DeBeers, picking the scab...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    The infamous Joe, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 9:30am

    Re: Any publicity is good publicity

    I think the more distressing fact is that these lawyers, whose job is to know the ins and outs of the law are threating people who have no fault on the matter.

    Assuming that they do, in fact, know the law-- that means they are diliberately misusing the law, which should be punishable, if it isn't, and enforced if it is.

    note: IANAL

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Lucretious, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 9:47am

    This family of vile scumbags who exploit destitute 3rd world workers for their worldwide monopoly should be happy that this is the worst they're getting. The whole lot of them should be lined up against a concrete wall and summarily executed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Greg, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 9:48am

    The Onion

    Apparently De Beers has never heard of The Onion, either. I'm just waiting for a parody of De Beers on

    But, they'll probaby sic their lawyers on them, too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Shohat, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 10:06am

    You think THAT matters ?

    Da Beers don't give two shits about such micro-bad publicity. Seriously.
    It's like that joke about Hitler killer 6 million jews and a clown.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 10:24am

    Re: You think THAT matters ?

    *decides to participate in this known and hilarious joke*
    What? Why a clown?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 10:39am

    Never saw this fake ad before. Thanks De Beers!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    another mike, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 10:41am

    fine line between insanity and genius

    Every time one of these stories comes up, I always have to wonder, have they never heard of the Streisand Effect? Or are they marketing geniuses who know exactly what they're doing?
    I mean, you've got to know by now that if you don't like something online, ignore it so it doesn't gain traction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    slimcat (profile), Nov 26th, 2008 @ 11:45am

    Amen Brother!

    For all the sorrow, pain, death, social and physical destruction they have caused, they certainly deserve it. But,as my homicide detective sister points out to me, it is still illegal to eradicate scumbags. I would, at least, like to see their company crushed by social pressure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Christopher L. Jorgensen, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 11:50am

    Diamonds Are Forever

    Yep, I would have entirely missed the ad if they hadn't brought it to my attention. Must be nice to be sued.

    Oh, wait.

    That's probably their real intention. Perhaps the registrar will kill the domain because they don't want to stand up to the diamond cartels. It could happen. Depends on how much protecting one customer matters to them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Allen (profile), Nov 26th, 2008 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Diamonds Are Forever

    "That's probably their real intention"

    That's what I was going to go with. Even bad publicity is publicity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Kev, Feb 7th, 2010 @ 6:54pm

    Ice Road Truckers

    Stick to Canadian diamonds. De Beers don't get their ugly faces in so far as I know, and with the exception of a few frostbitten truckers, no-one gets hurt. Canadian diamonds are the clean end of the market. The kind of excesses, and human rights abuses, routinely practiced in Africa are unknown here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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