For 10 Years Everyone's Been Using 'The Streisand Effect' Without Paying; Now I'm Going To Start Issuing Takedowns

from the watch-it-get-even-bigger dept

I have to admit that I had no idea that it had been 10 years since I coined the term "The Streisand Effect" until the SkepticHistory Twitter feed called my attention to it earlier this week. I had thought about saving this for the weekend "this week in history" post, but it seems worth delving into today -- especially with folks like the thieves at Gawker Media putting up a whole story about it and stealing all the attention and whatnot.

So, yeah, ten years ago this week, I coined "the Streisand Effect," which was actually on a story about how the Marco Beach Ocean Resort was all offended by the fact that Urinal.net (a site that, yes, still exists and is still being updated) had posted a photo of a urinal from the resort, and the resort insisted that it was illegal to use its name. As we pointed out, this stupid takedown request would only draw more attention, and then we wrote:
How long is it going to take before lawyers realize that the simple act of trying to repress something they don't like online is likely to make it so that something that most people would never, ever see (like a photo of a urinal in some random beach resort) is now seen by many more people? Let's call it the Streisand Effect.
That last link then went back to a 2003 story about how Barbra Streisand had sued photographer Kenneth Adelman for photographing her house from a helicopter. Adelman had been photographing the entire California coastline, hoping to use it to document coastal erosion, and posted all the photographs online. Streisand got upset that her coastal home was shown, and sued. But, of course, before this, no one knew (or cared) that it was Streisand's home. The image had been viewed six times (including twice by Streisand's lawyers), but following the news of the lawsuit, hundreds of thousands of people went to see the photo. It was a story that stuck with me, and seemed to be repeated every few months in some form or another. So when I saw that Urinal.net threat, I just jokingly said we should call such things "The Streisand Effect."

I didn't think much about it until I saw it mentioned in a few other places a year or two later, including showing up in articles n Forbes and eventually leading to an interview on All Things Considered on NPR.

But, anyway, it's been ten years of this and you've all had your fun, getting to use my personal creation, my sweat and tears and labor, and all of it for free. So I'm going to start issuing cease & desist letters to anyone who uses The Streisand Effect and doesn't pay my royalties. We've set up a simple site where you can go and see the royalty rates, as well as make an easy payment. We even will offer amnesty for past usage if you pay a one time fee. We've also hired some of the best Spanish lawyers to explore ways to demand payments from additional sites as well.

Obviously, this is necessary or else how would I have had the incentive to create the term in the first place? All these people benefiting off of my hard work, my labor, the sweat of my brow are freeloading off of my property. And it has to stop now. "The Streisand Effect" is a valuable concept and I'm sick of all the freeloaders. It will stop and we should start to see it disappearing from unpaid use soon, thanks to my auto-C&D sender system.*

* Because this is the internet and because there are still some satire-impaired people out there, yes, this is a joke (and yes, that includes the bit up top about Gawker being thieves). I mean, other than the fact that issuing a bunch of cease & desist letters should, in theory, lead to a purposeful "Streisand Effect" purposely generating more attention for the term, which would be pretty neat. On a more serious level, it really was an off-hand joke made a decade ago, and I'm still amazed that it caught on and became such a big deal. I'm happy that it's a useful shorthand and hope that it actually served its key purpose in succinctly getting the point across about the stupidity of trying to take down content....

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  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 8 Jan 2015 @ 10:21am

    Do we know if the above-named celebrity has any idea of the way her surname has been appropriated? A publicist's dream... or nightmare.

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

  • icon
    Michael Donnelly (profile), 8 Jan 2015 @ 10:31am

    Use of other name without attribution.

    As both a fan and imaginary legal counsel for the American band "10 Years", I must complain about your usage of the group's name in the title without first obtaining a license.

    As an expert in the various intellectual property disciplines, you should already understand that such cavalier disregard for my clients' rights will not be looked upon favorably by the court.

    Consider this post a properly-constructed DMCA/trademark/patent (pending) takedown notice. Yes, those exist now, deal with it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 10:41am

    I'm disappointed you didn't hire Prenda!

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

  • identicon
    gnudist, 8 Jan 2015 @ 10:51am

    *seeds torrent of text file that is just "The Streisand Effect" repeated over and over*

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 10:59am

    I see this as a sly ploy to elevate the term, the creator, and monetize it. Good idea for the first two, but the third might act like a rocket. Just don't act like the challenger.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:00am

    STREIS& FX

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

  • icon
    S. T. Stone (profile), 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:07am

    Silly Mike. This is a futile effort. Really, did you think this would actually work? Everyone sees this for what it is. I can't even fathom why you'd try this blatant moneygrab. Such a shame that it’s come down to this. And to think, I used to respect you. Not even a hint of animus towards you. Damn shame, it is.

    Everyone should have just one thing to say to you right now: ‘For shame, Mike. For shame!’ Everyone should immediately boycott Techdirt. ’Cause there’s nothing worse than a man who flip-flops on his very principles. The very idea makes me want to vomit.

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

  • identicon
    Michael Mock, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:08am

    Naturally, you must start by sending your C&D letter to Wikipedia, since their entry on the term is clearly benefiting from your IP.

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

  • identicon
    Just Another Anonymous Troll, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:09am

    I never knew you invented that. Awesome. You're a pretty cool guy.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:09am

    So I see we will have to change the name to the Masnick effect. /s

    Ten Years After is liable to have something to say about confusing the moron in a hurry.

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

  • identicon
    Altaree, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:10am

    What ever happened to Bab's coastline?

    Did she get in trouble?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:43am

      Re: What ever happened to Bab's coastline?

      I guess it just...

      ***shades***

      ...fell away.

      YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

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

  • identicon
    DogBreath, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:12am

    The infallable auto-C&D sender system

    "The Streisand Effect" is a valuable concept and I'm sick of all the freeloaders. It will stop and we should start to see it disappearing from unpaid use soon, thanks to my auto-C&D sender system.*


    Using the tried and true (tired and stupid) methods of auto-C&D sender systems currently in use, taking down not only "The Streisand Effect", but also any of the individual words used in the phrase:


    GOOGLE

    "Streisand" = About 21,900,000 results

    "Effect" = About 1,130,000,000 results

    "The" = About 25,270,000,000 results


    The MPAA & RIAA are just a drop in the ocean compared to the tidal wave you could release.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:14am

    I want an "effect" named after me!

    How can I get an "effect" named after me? Well, except I don't want one that has its origins in a urinal.

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

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:14am

    I say post a comment about "She who will not be mentioned" on the MPAA and RIAA websites, then issue a DMCA takedown notice.

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

  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:21am

    I've been calling it 'The Butterfly Effect' to get more mileage out of my infringement.

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

  • identicon
    Donald Jessop, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:27am

    Disappointed

    I was kind of hoping for the same effect that Despair had when it trademarked :-(. I managed to get a perpetual license for :-( from Despair and I was hoping to get one for the "Streisand Effect". Now I'm just going to have to use it illegally. :-(

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

  • identicon
    Turk, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:38am

    Woulda been great to run on April 1st, but without the just kidding crap at the end.

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

  • identicon
    Bashful Pixie, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:52am

    Streisand Effect? That sounds stupid. it doesn't even make any sense out of context and Babs is so much of a has-been no one would even know that Streisand is a name of a person.

    No, Streisand Effect is dumb. That's why we use the word "Viral" for the same thing. And it's a helluvalot more description just by the definition of the word.

    To-wit: "The Streisand Effect taking hold." (Huh? WTF?)

    OR

    "It's gone viral." (That makes way too much sense. I get it.)

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

    • icon
      Ben S (profile), 8 Jan 2015 @ 12:23pm

      Re:

      The Streisand Effect doesn't necessarily cause something to go viral, though it often can. It does, how ever, increase awareness of the thing one is attempting to censor.

      Viral only describes how well known/popular a thing has become, but doesn't touch reasoning. Hearing that it's gone viral sounds like "this is the new cool thing that everyone is talking about". The Streisand Effect on the other hand makes clear that some one out there doesn't want you to know about it.

      I don't think "viral" is a good choice for the description, as the meaning is incomplete, it's not always accurate, and implies something that isn't necessarily true.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 12:45pm

        Re: Re:

        Ben is right. The Streisand Effect is about someone doing something stupid to bring to light something they were trying to hide. Something that most likely was going without notice in the first place. So the very attempt to hide it is what causes it to go viral or atleast become much more well known than if you had left it alone.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:53am

    So that's how her nose got all pushed out of shape. I always wondered.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 11:55am

    Gawker is still a thing? I thought they went bankrupt after the whole hatespeech and harrasment thing

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 12:02pm

    South Park

    I always thought the Streisand Effect went back to the 1998 South Park episode Mecha-Streisand. When Babs complained, the next episode was in spooky vision which had a picture of Barbara Streisand in each corner.

    South Park continued to make fun of Streisand. If you pay attention to the movie, you will notice that the curse word that killed Saddam Hussein was "Barbara Streisand"

    I guess it just goes to show how much effort Babs has put into being an ass over the years.

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

  • identicon
    RD, 8 Jan 2015 @ 12:04pm

    Gonna be a fun show

    Good Lord in Heaven, I am vibrating like a tuning fork at the show that is about to commence, watching the pro-copyright maximalists twist themselves into knots of "law" and "logic" in a desperate attempt to reconcile how MIKE doing this would be all sorts of wrong, yet still maintain that this farce of copyright and "owning" everything shoved behind 100+ year paywalls and $150k per infraction fines are justified. This is going to be GOOD!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 12:55pm

      Re: Gonna be a fun show

      I don't know what a "pro-copyright maximalist" is, but I don't think anyone besides Barbara Streisand cares either way if the author tries to trademark "Streisand effect". However unless someone had sold goods bearing that trademark without compensating Mike Masnick, there isn't anything he could claw back. I would think a blog that comments on intellectual property would know that. Of course this is all moot because I doubt Ms. Streisand would allow such a trademark to occur.

      So if this is satire, maybe stick to blogging about tech.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 2:26pm

        Re: Re: Gonna be a fun show

        This is pretty damn good. I had almost read the whole comment before I heard "Non, je ne regrette rien" playing in the background.

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

  • identicon
    muahaha, 8 Jan 2015 @ 12:14pm

    I'm sharing this With all my friends and no one can stop me!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 12:31pm

    I had no idea this is how the 'The Streisand Effect' was coined. So it all started with a woman named Barbra Streisand. Interesting!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 12:49pm

    Arrrr!!

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

  • identicon
    Bill Stewart, 8 Jan 2015 @ 1:43pm

    Do you accept Dogecoins?

    They're designed for this sort of tip jar :-)

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

  • icon
    Paul Alan Levy (profile), 8 Jan 2015 @ 1:54pm

    Simple site

    I confess that I was disappointed at where the hyperlink embedded in "simple site" went; I was hoping for an amusing schedule of demanded payments

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 8 Jan 2015 @ 4:53pm

      Re: Simple site

      I confess that I was disappointed at where the hyperlink embedded in "simple site" went; I was hoping for an amusing schedule of demanded payments

      With all the "losses" we've suffered from all you pirates, we couldn't afford to put up a real site.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 5:31pm

        Re: Re: Simple site

        Mike Masnick likes to pretend piracy hasn't caused any monetary loss.

        haha, good one, Mike Masnick.

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

        • icon
          Coyne Tibbets (profile), 8 Jan 2015 @ 6:41pm

          Re: Re: Re: Simple site

          Well now he knows better, doesn't he? Look at all the money he's lost due to everyone pirating his phrase.

          Which reminds me: Hey Mike, is this going to be exclusive to you from now on? Or will we be able to obtain PRO licenses?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2015 @ 4:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Simple site

          *The MAFIAA has yet to prove that file-sharing causes any monetary loss.

          FTFY

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

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 9:38am

          Re: Re: Re: Simple site

          That's funny, since Mike has on numerous occasions said outright that it does indeed cause some amount of monetary loss. You seem to have misunderstood his point, also frequently stated, that the methods being used to address piracy are counterproductive and make that piracy-related costs larger, not smaller.

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

  • icon
    Jay (profile), 8 Jan 2015 @ 2:01pm

    that includes the bit up top about Gawker being thieves).

    No, that is still pretty accurate...

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

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 8 Jan 2015 @ 3:29pm

    Mike, you rogue!

    Mike, you rogue, you! I think Babs has been hiding ever since you linked her name to an Internet meme. I think my Mexican actress niece, Pilar Mata, would love it if you renamed it from "The Streisand Effect" to "The Mata Effect". Just think, now it would be a "kill" effect (mata being Spanish for kill). :-)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 3:45pm

    Gawker is a bunch of thieves. Mike may have been making a joke, but they are a bunch of click bait-writing thieves. Look no further than their refusal to stop using the Hulk Hogan porn video for click bait or using any other unauthorized nudes belonging to a public figure for click bait.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 4:28pm

    I have to wonder, if someone were to sue an individual for using "The Streisand Effect" if the resulting Streisand effect would be so large, that it would break the internet.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 4:44pm

    Am I the only one who read the headline and thought that Barbara Streisand was the one who said it?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jan 2015 @ 5:14pm

    When I saw "Spanish lawyers" this is what I thought it would link to
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt0Y39eMvpI

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

  • icon
    tqk (profile), 8 Jan 2015 @ 7:48pm

    It's a fair cop. Our cheque's in the mail.

    Good one Mike. Thanks for your letting us use it all these years, and for coming up with it in the first place. You Yanquis are so inventive at times.

    I should warn you though, you might want to hold off on *spending* the money until your bank really clears the cheque. Sorry, it's just the way we do things here.

    Signed, The Guild of Nigerian Spammers.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 1:13am

    I'm disappointed no trolls contributed here. I'm also disappointed you haven't got a C&D letter from Ms Streisand. Derp.

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

  • icon
    edinjapan (profile), 9 Jan 2015 @ 8:29am

    Better lawyers

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


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