ChooseCo Inks Lucrative Deal With Amazon, Possibly Thanks To Netflix's 'Bandersnatch'

from the biting-the-hand dept

When we discussed Chooseco, the company behind the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books from decades past, and its lawsuit against Netflix for having content that allowed watchers to choose paths within the narrative, we focused mostly on how silly the lawsuit was purely from a merit standpoint. The trademark suit rested mostly on a throwaway reference or homage made by a character in the Netflix work, and the claim that Chooseco has licensed its name in the past but lost the opportunity to do so for this work. None of that makes the public at all likely to be confused into thinking that Bandersnatch was somehow a Chooseco product, nor does such a reference somehow cause the work to be trademark infringement.

But there's another angle in all of this. The homage made in Bandersnatch was truly an homage, meaning that it called to mind for many of a certain age the fondness we had for these Choose Your Own Adventure books. Despite the films dark themes, the reference itself is a positive one. And, frankly, it probably caused many to think about the series of books for the first time in a long time, making it something of an advertisement for Chooseco's products.

And that buzz surrounding Bandersnatch certainly coincidentally occurred alongside the more recent announcement that Chooseco has agreed to partner with Amazon to produce Choose Your Own Adventures for the Alexa.

You may remember ChooseCo from its lawsuit with Netflix over the Black Mirror episode. The company claims that Netflix never acquired the proper license to use the “Choose Your Own Adventure” trademark.

But clearly, ChooseCo still aims to benefit from the attention, and from Netflix’s ability to make this storytelling gimmick popular with a younger generation of tech-savvy consumers.

In collaboration with Amazon’s  Audible division, the two companies are together releasing an Alexa skill (properly licensed) that will bring ChooseCo’s Choose Your Own Adventure stories to life on Alexa-powered devices, like Echo smart speakers, which are controlled through voice commands.

Should Chooseco actually have thanked Netflix for its nod in Bandersnatch rather than suing over it? I'm not sure, but it doesn't seem unlikely that the huge amount of buzz surrounding the film contributed to, if not created, the Amazon opportunity for Chooseco.

And that's often the point when we talk about intellectual property lawsuits. There are often other ways to look at what is being sued over, with the relinquishing of a bit of control actually resulting in free promotion, free advertising, and the kind of word of mouth buzz that simply can't be bought as part of a media campaign. It would be immensely interesting to be on the inside at Chooseco, in order to get a sense of the sequence of events in which all of this occurred.

Regardless, it seems Chooseco at least had the option of choosing to be less litigious.

Filed Under: bandersnatch, choose your own adventure, licensing, publicity, trademark
Companies: amazon, chooseco, netflix


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2019 @ 3:57pm

    They had the option to turn to Chapter 11, Chapter 7, or somewhere else.

    It seems they did not choose wisely at first, but then did what I always did with CYOA titles and turned to the back of the book first to figure out the optimal path.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2019 @ 4:00pm

    Except the noncreator gets a free mailing list that is worth a fortune by becoming a middleman for the product.

    A mailing list for a book on retirement planning could be worth up to $2 a name or more, EACH TIME THE LIST IS RENTED OUT. While it is not a lost SALE even if none of the downloaders would have bought it, it's definitely a lost mailing list.

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

    • icon
      Matthew Cline (profile), 8 Feb 2019 @ 4:20pm

      Re:

      Except the noncreator gets a free mailing list that is worth a fortune by becoming a middleman for the product.

      Do you mean that the middleman constructs a mailing list from those who buy the product, whereas without a middleman thee creator would know who the customers are, construct the mailing list from that, and then the creator could have made additional money from renting out the mailing list? Or do you mean that the creator provides an existing mailing list to the middle man, or what?

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Feb 2019 @ 4:24pm

        Re: Re:

        Forget it, Matt, it’s Crazy Town.

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

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2019 @ 4:42pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          More like Rude Town with you as the Mayor. Who do you think you are impressing with insults like that? It certainly reflects poorly on Masnick to allow what is essentially cyberbullying, to which a decent person won't respond in kind (be thankful for that).

          Run that mouth like that to someone's face and the outcome would be much different than online.

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

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Feb 2019 @ 5:12pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You know, nobody is forcing you to read this site or comment on the articles or respond to assholes like me. That you continue to do so says more about you and your ability to brush off bullshit than it says about me and my ability to deal it.

            Seriously, if one weaksauce insult based on a reference to a 45-year-old film is enough to send you flying off the handle about “cyberbullying”, I shudder to think how you might react if someone brings out some truly impressive insults to the plate.

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

          • icon
            Toom1275 (profile), 8 Feb 2019 @ 5:34pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The only rudness here is the way you incessantly lie to us.

            Calling that out is more of a public service than anything.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2019 @ 9:01pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Reflects poorly on a site... which you claim nobody reads... which you claim couldn't influence national policy... Yeah, I'm sure plenty of people are going to have their hearts bleed because some anonymous asshole got triggered harder than chocolate bird.

            How those lawsuits coming along, bro?

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

          • identicon
            Rocky, 9 Feb 2019 @ 4:50am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Run that mouth like that to someone's face and the outcome would be much different than online.

            Please elaborate how the outcome would be different?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2019 @ 6:20pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            “Run that mouth like that to someone's face and the outcome would be much different than online.”

            Well yes, it would be awkward when you burst into tears in from of us.

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 11 Feb 2019 @ 3:22am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Who do you think you are impressing with insults like that?"

            People who understand classic cinema, and people who dislike scam artists like yourself.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2019 @ 4:39pm

        Re: Re:

        I was talking about piracy though it applies in other situations.

        They say that infringement helps the value of the product, but the infringer is stealing the mailing list, which can often be more valuable than the underlying work.

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

        • icon
          Matthew Cline (profile), 8 Feb 2019 @ 4:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I was talking about piracy

          Then I guess I got a bit confused when you mentioned "middleman" in your first paragraph.

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

          • icon
            Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Feb 2019 @ 5:48pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You forgot that he wrote a book on how to get rich, which consisted of telling others how to write a book on how to get rich, but in different words. He has now amended his business model by creating mailing lists of 1) fools that bought the book and 2) fools that downloaded the book for free (aka piracy (but doesn't preclude the Prenda enhance probability that he posted the book on the torrents so that he could collect the mailing list)...oh wait, how could he have a mailing list of people that torrented the book without going to court and getting them to force ISP's to give up that information...hmm.

            There seems to be problems with not only his logic, but his process. Quelle Surprise!

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

        • identicon
          TFG, 9 Feb 2019 @ 5:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Pics or it didn't happen.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2019 @ 2:19am

      Re:

      Why the obsession with mailing lists, as real authors find ways of communication with their fans via social media and/or personal websites, whether they sell their own works, or sell via a middlemen. A fans will buy new works and recommend books to their friends, while email spammers need a continuous supply of new email addresses because repeat sales are rare..

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 11 Feb 2019 @ 3:21am

      Re:

      "A mailing list for a book on retirement planning could be worth up to $2 a name or more, EACH TIME THE LIST IS RENTED OUT"

      Still angry that your scamming pyramid spam scheme didn't work, huh? Why not try a business that doesn't depend on annoying people while you attempt fraud?

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

      • icon
        Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 12 Feb 2019 @ 6:03am

        Re: Re:

        I'm fairly certain you can't copyright a mailing list. You can't copyright facts, and he didn't make up the email addresses, so what exactly is under copyright? Also, you can't copyright an email address.

        Arranging the email addresses in a particular order isn't creative, so that can't be copyrighted as a pattern or whatever. Our friend "Jhon" appears to be demanding control over works he didn't create himself and that can't be copyrighted anyway.

        If someone copied the list they can email the people on the list, and that's it. The list itself only has as much value as potential users are willing to grant it. Even so, each contact doesn't automatically guarantee sales or whatever. AND people can and do change their email addresses.

        As I've pointed out many times before, copyright maximalists are usually abject failures at whatever endeavour they've engaged in... primarily due to over-protectionism which reduced their exposure to potential fans.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 12 Feb 2019 @ 6:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I think that what he's saying is that by forcing everybody through a sign up process to try out whatever poor quality product he was selling, he could build a mailing list which he could use to target people for whatever scam he was running. Now that people are able to pirate copies of it without handing over personal information, he's losing the valuable list of possible targets.

          That's how I interpret it, anyway.

          "Even so, each contact doesn't automatically guarantee sales or whatever. AND people can and do change their email addresses."

          That's why spamming is so successful and so prevalent, you can email thousands of addresses and even if you only get a 0.000001% response it more than covers the cost of the campaign.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Feb 2019 @ 7:49pm

    Something something any publicity is great publicity...

    Now if only the courts would see clear to punish those bringing merit-less lawsuits to get attention...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2019 @ 9:42pm

    This or that

    So, ChooseCo sued over something that seems like Tinder would actually have more of a claim on... or am I just not remembering how truly limited the choices in those books were... I mean, there were places were you had more than one choice listed, right?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2019 @ 11:26am

    Another non-reason for Alexa

    CYOA books on Audible with voice interactivity is a great idea. Forcing it onto Alexa, where Amazon will now get to harvest all of the interactivity data with even more children, is technologically unnecessary. A device capable of this level of voice interactivity can be built by the target audience on a raspberry pi in less than a day. The only reason to put this on "the cloud" is to harvest yet more data.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Feb 2019 @ 7:57am

    Somehow, the "option to be less litigious" is never attractive to the lawyers making the decision. Inconcievable!

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


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