Sony Takes Down Leaked Unfinished Spider-Man Trailer, Releases Finished One Days Later

from the its-advertising-you-dolts dept

We've talked plenty of times in the past about instances in which publishers of content, typically movies, get copyright takedowns performed on trailers. These takedowns are, frankly, never a great idea, but they are particularly stupid when companies like Marvel, Disney, and Warner Bros. takedown trailers, otherwise known as advertisements, and then release an identical or nearly identical trailer days later. What in the actual hell is the point of that? Killing off your own word of mouth and free advertising for your film?

Now, Sony just went through this experience itself, having attempted to DMCA to death a leaked and, importantly, unfinished trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The way in which the trailer apparently leaked is obviously a concern. It surfaced via the video sharing app TikTok and immediately went viral, but it wasn’t long before Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube had nabbed it. The trailer footage was clearly cut before most of the VFX were added, and was presented in the kind of disastrous way that would give Christopher Nolan nightmares – with a phone filming another phone screen filming another screen – but that didn’t stop fans getting the gist of the trailer.

So, part of the desire to put the trailer genie back in the bottle was surely the unfinished nature of the trailer and some of the fan reactions to seeing it without special effects being added in. So, does that make Sony's decision to try and DMCA it out of existence the right move?

Hell no. And there are several reasons why. The first and most obvious is that, not surprisingly, it didn't freaking work. You can still today go out on several sites and find the leaked version of the trailer. There are YouTube videos and videos on other platforms of the trailer being shown and discussions being had about its contents. In fact, you could rightly suggest that Sony trying to kill the trailer generated even more buzz around it, leading even more people to watch than might have otherwise. The Streisand Effect at work, in other words. So, one strike against this move was how ineffectual and counterproductive it was.

But then note that Sony dropped the official and finished trailer days later. And the coverage of the official release was generally quite positive. The story incorporates the MCU's multiverse, perhaps most famously utilized in another Spider-Man related film, Into the Spiderverse, in which there are multiple realities in which different personalities are in control of different superheroes who make different decisions.

So imagine for a moment that we live in such a multiverse, something that is a studied possibility. What if there were another universe in which Sony's lawyers, instead of trying to ineffectually un-leak a widely shared trailer for a hot property, said instead something like this:

Hey, Spider-Man and Marvel fans! We know an unfinished version of 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' leaked yesterday. We didn't authorize the leak because the work on it wasn't completed. In fact, it looks a hell of a lot different than what we actually have prepared for you. But we also know how passionate you all are as fans, so we're guessing a great many of you went out and watched it. That's awesome! We love how much you love Spider-Man!

And that's why we definitely want you to see the finished version. Unlike the leaked version, the official trailer adds in the awesome effects you can expect when you actually go see the movie in theaters! In fact, we think you should definitely watch both trailers so that you get an idea of the insanely good work our effects studio does. See you in the theaters in December!

I wrote that in three minutes. How many billable hours did Sony's lawyers log instead failing to un-leak the previous trailer? And which move builds more good will in the community of Spider-Man fans? Which one had a greater positive effect?

The answer is obvious. And, yet, we still see studios trying to treat the internet as though it were a place where you can disappear content.

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Filed Under: copyright, dmca, no way home, spiderman, takedowns, trailers
Companies: sony


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  1. icon
    deadspatula (profile), 25 Aug 2021 @ 7:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The purpose of the copyright is to encourage public release of works. The purpose if he DMVA is to help secure those rights. If it gives power beyond that(which it does), it’s going to see a lot of coverage for its abuses (which are legion)

    Generally, Techdirt doesn’t like the DMCA because Techdirt thinks (and i agree) the DMCA goes too far in protecting the copyright without also protecting the rights of the end user and the DMCA also fails to be narrowly tailored to supporting the purpose of copyright, treating copyright itself as the goal rather than only the means to another end. This is why Techdirt advocates a different notice system. (notice and notice rather than notice and takedown) and introducing real teeth to penalties against bad faith takedowns. They advocate reform, so you should expect articles here to only highlight the abuse

    Case in point: Marketing material. While legally that material has copyright, and is a valid subject if a DMCA claim, infringement of marketing materials doesn’t harm the copyright holder. Marketing materials work best when widely disseminated to the target audience. The purpose of marketing material is to build hype for some other work or event. To do this most effectively it needs to be shared, repeatedly, to as many people as possible. a copyright only gets in the way of that. It makes the DMCA an odd tool to use against marketing material generally. Using the DMCA to limit the spread of a work intended to be distributed at the expense of the copyright holder to the public at large makes no sense.

    The unfinished trailer has the similar issue. They could have played the leak as a marketing ploy. get the rabid fans to watch the raw trailer for free, with no ad buys, then when the finished trailer drops 2 days later they get free marketing as videos compare the unfinished and finished shots. bulls a ton of goodwill by playing into fan interest in how the sausage is made, and the rabid fanbase will the evangelize the finished trailer to less dedicated friends and family. but that doesn’t fit in the focus tested hyper detailed marketing release schedule from which there can be no deviation, so executives throw away the free advertising and shut down that discussion (or at least try to)

    Taking down the trailer might enforce copyright, but what it doesn’t do is “promote the progress of the sciences and useful arts”, nor does it protect the market for a work whose marketable value is $0 (arguably, negative because you expect to spend as money distributing this and than not selling it. The movie needs protection, not the marketing. It’s serves the law, but it doesn’t serve the purpose of copyright, it does not serve the reasons copyright exists and can only serve to slow fan support and hurt the content being marketed.

    As is often the refrain, just because you legally can, doesn’t mean you should.


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