Monday 5 August 2013

Rotolight and Den Lennie

Firstly let me state right away that though I am friends with Den Lennie of F-Stop Academy (indeed we made ‘Stills in Motion’ together) I have had no communication with him on this matter whatsoever.

Den posted a test on Vimeo of different light sources and somehow, for a period of time, the post was removed, even though the video was Den’s.

To read the whole sorry story, of what did and did not happen with Rotolight, in this rather unfortunate affair you can read Den’s post on the matter which also includes a full statement from the manufacturer.

Goodness me, the video was taken down, and later reinstated but pandora’s box was well and truly opened.

It reminded me of the days when I used to shoot the pics for a leading Sunday magazines newspaper motoring column.

All car manufacturers at some point in their history have made a car which was not quite as good as should have been.

The reviews you read in the media tend to accurately reflect the situation.

When a less than favorable review is written, the press offices for the manufacturers might possibly call the journalist involved and pull them up on what they considered to be unfair treatment, and possibly invites to future car launches in exotic locations may be withdrawn, though this was rare.

More often than not nothing was said, and the matter was quickly forgotten as the press offices need the journalists as much as the journalists need cars to write about.

There was one manufacturer however though who wielded a very big stick.

A harsh review could, on occasion, be followed by stern words to the editor or even the proprietor, threatening to pull all of advertising from whole groups of newspapers.

I’m not sure of the specifics, but deals were struck, and the ship sailed merrily on.

A victory for the manufacturer who showed just how strong they were and how they were not to be messed with.

Or so it seemed.

I heard tales of journalists giving the brand a wide berth and avoiding reviewing the companies products, not wishing to expose themselves to a whole world of pain.

The car company won the battle, but lost the war, getting less coverage than they might have.

Any company, who makes anything at all, needs to consider very carefully the unforeseen consequences of wheeling out the big guns, and how it might make them appear.

I know from my own experiences that the car manufacturer who adopted a more measured and softly spoken approach, with the invitation of a re-test of what was a faulty model, fared much better in the short and long term, than the manufacturer who used strong arm tactics.

Any manufacturer would do well to make note of what has happened in the last week or so, and consider if Rotolight’s response was indeed a wise one.


Libby said...

Yeah, I read about this last week. First off it makes the Rotolight lawyers look pretty stupid in their over reaching. The whole thing actually makes me wonder if qualified attorneys were actually involved at all in filing the initial complaint, or if some company official grabbed a word template and sent it off themselves. Drew, my family is crawling with lawyers and I don't know of a one of them who would have acted in such a way without a copyright violation being clearly substantiated. This whole thing here just looked like the kid who got bullied in the schoolyard whining and stamping their feet.

It was a clear abuse of DMCA and the way it is intended to work. I also wonder where Vimeo's head was at here. Did they even look at the material when the complaint came in? Clearly there was no theft of content (the gist of what DMCA is actually supposed to be able to protect).

It would have been smarter to contact Den, send him a replacement product, and just politely ask him to give things another run. End of story.

If DMCA tactics were used everytime an unfavorable product review was posted, hell us camera people we'd have nothing to watch on the internet ;-)

Thanks for the automotive references. Stuff like this happens in every industry. I worked as marketing exec for a few years for an industrial manufacturing company. When a product issue came to light, we chased things down. Sometimes it user error, sometimes not. In the end, proper pursuit of such matters made the customer happy and made us better as a company.

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