We are adding a 4th part to our 3-part article, as we received an e-mail doubting the authenticity of the practices of #2 in part 3. We were discussing how companies use social media, while hiding the fact that it’s them posting stuff. We wrote:
“Companies make their own posts under a variety of methods including but not limited to fictional third party fans. The images are used to create buzz and to brand the act or label. They serve as free PR materials and may promote tours, records or merchandise.”
Well ye of little faith, we have seen the technique used many times. It’s the old wolf hiding in sheep’s clothing. In the following, we will use an example from a case where we were NOT involved.
Viacom sued Youtube in NY Federal Court. Google’s chief counsel (they were all jumping on this one) later, outside of court, publicly elaborated on the allegations made in the case, which included:
“Viacom’s own marketing agent (testified) about the ‘practice by viral marketers of using YouTube to promote music, TV programs and motion pictures’. Although Viacom sometimes places materials on YouTube openly much of its marketing activity takes place covertly”.
Publicly and outside of the court room Viacom’s chief counsel, Zahavah Levine, was reported as saying with regard to the above testimony:
“For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately ‘roughed up’ the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko’s to upload clips from computers that couldn’t be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt ‘very strongly’ that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube. Viacom’s efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself”.
All we can add is “Wow”.
If a person or entity is willing to violate federal copyright laws, it does not require a leap of faith to believe that they will lie in furtherance or defense of the infringement(s).