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Wednesday May 17, 2006 5:03 pm

Engadget Upset At E3 Video Appearance [UPDATED]




Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Blogging, Business

Over the past day or so, I have been putting a little too much time into dealing with an issue brought to me by Engadget’s Managing Editor, Ryan Block. Let me first say that in my previous dealings with Ryan, he seems to be a good guy. I don’t have a deep-seeded hatred for Weblogs, Inc., Engadget, or any of their staff. However, yesterday put a different spin on how I view these guys.

Prior to E3, Microsoft invited us to a non-exclusive group interview with Peter Moore. We asked if we could record audio and/or video, and were given the green light. Later, right before E3, I confirmed this again. Lastly, when we walked in for the interview, we made one more request, to which Peter Moore responded “Of course!” We started filming the interview, and a few minutes later, Ryan Block came into the room to join those of us that were already there. The cameras kept rolling, even after Ryan walked in. About six days later, we posted the E3 video interview with Peter Moore. Within an hour, I got an email from Ryan Block.



Ryan’s email was short and to the point:

Hey Andru,

Hope you’re well. Saw your video; needed you to know that Chris, Vlad, nor I consented to being filmed by GearLive (nor anyone else), and would appreciate being removed and not named. Thanks!

Best, Ryan

Okay, fair enough I figured. I guess I need to get their consent. I replied:

Thanks for the message. Real quick, is there a process you guys have for getting your consent? Jake posted the audio to The Chris Pirillo Show feed, and he wrote up a similar intro, also naming and linking to your respective sites:
http://www.thechrispirilloshow.com/help/20060510_peter_moore_of_microsoft_xbox_on_e3.phtml Did they need a release for that as well?

This is where it started to get odd, as Ryan responded saying they wouldn’t consent to “being on” The Bleeding Edge:

The process is: you ask us for consent, we say yes or no. We did not consent to being on anyone’s show—so I suppose Chris and anyone else recording who publicly broadcast that footage would also have to edit it—or ask our consent.

And sorry, no, we do not consent to being on The Bleeding Edge, so please remove your media from public access as it currently exists until an edited form appears without our names, likenesses, trademarked brands, or anything else of the like. Thank you.

So, hold on. I need to stop the work I am doing to edit a video of a press event that Microsoft gave us permission to film (multiple times, mind you) because someone didn’t want to appear in the video. Note, while we were actually there in the room, no one said anything. Even after the interview, Ryan didn’t approach us and tell us he would rather not appear in the footage. That would have made this worlds easier. However, this was a press event that anyone in the room was free to record, just like any other press event one might attend. I let Ryan know this in my reply:

We didn’t use your likeness commercially (using footage on an ad-supported media outlet isn’t commercial use,) didn’t defame you, and it was public info according to the company [Microsoft]. Filming a press event like this shouldn’t be an issue, especially since we asked at the start of the meeting.

Within a few minutes, Ryan hit me with this:

According to my communications with Microsoft, there was no information given to indicate this was a public “press event.” Invite-only = exclusive, nothing that a “press event” necessarily entails. Public information disclosed behind closed doors does not mean automatic consent to appearance by all parties present. And just because you asked Moore if it was ok to film him does not mean you asked Vlad, which you did not. When Chris, Randall and I entered after filming had already begun, and were not asked by you or anyone in the room if we could be filmed. Assuming is the wrong thing to do.

So I decided to do some checking with Microsoft. I linked them to the footage, told them the situation, and they said they would get back to me. After a few minutes, Microsoft PR send me the following message:

Hi Andru - after doing a quick check, there is no reason for you to remove the video.  You are free to keep it on your site.  Thanks for checking in with me on this.

Then I get an email from Weblogs, Inc. CEO, Jason Calacanis:

Why would you run that video without our consent?

j

I explained the situation as best I could to Jason in an email response, telling him about the permission we received, the follow up info from Microsoft saying it was okay, and the fact that the interview was posted on The Chris Pirillo Show - including Joystiq and Engadget comments - about a week ago. Why is it okay there, but not okay on Gear Live? He responded back:

It’s a low class move on your part.

You always get permission and respect peoples right to opt out.

J

So, Joystiq not getting Konami’s permission, nor respecting their right to have something pulled from Joystiq means that Konami PR is full of idiots according to Jason.  Yet, our coverage of a press event that Microsoft outrightly said we were more than welcome to film results in Engadget telling me to pull it. Huh??? So, any press conference that Engadget appears at, all other press venues need to go and get their consent to publish it if Engadget happens to ask a question (like they did at CES during the Google Larry page keynote)? Doesn’t that seem to be a bit much?

And it was a low class move on our part to publish the interview that Microsoft outrightly said we could? I just checked with them again a few minutes ago, and got this back from Microsoft PR:

“These were not exclusive interviews. They were group press interviews.”

When the President of the US has a group press interview, I am sure that all the media outlets there don’t have to get specific consent to film other reports from other outlets asking the President their questions.

We have a ton more E3 content to get edited and posted. I told Ryan that we would work on a more Engadget-acceptable version ASAP (which he was fine with), but I have realized that this isn’t something my video guys can do immediately. We have to get other stuff up first. I can’t put our time and efforts into satisfying Engadget immediaetely when all signs say we didn’t do anything wrong. Once we get our other stuff up, we will work on that video. In the interim, we have removed all names and links to Engadget and Joystiq sites and bloggers. However, do know that they were put there not to imply affiliation, but rather to give them the credit they deserved for being a part of that interview.

Can someone tell me, honestly, did we do something wrong here?

UPDATE: As a matter of disclosure, allow me to make it clear that this post was meant to get an answer to the question above - did I do anything wrong? As of last evening, Ryan Block and I had ended our email conversation with what I (and he) thought was an acceptable compromise. When I got the message from Jason Calacanis calling the act of us publishing our video “low class,” that is when I decided to make this post. Upon further reflection, Engadget asking a professional courtesy isn’t a request that is out of line. We had the option to say yes or no - no threat of legal action involved. The difference between this and the Konami incident was that Konami was attempting to surpress news, while Ryan was making a request to have his image not appear in our footage.

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Comments:

Right on Andru.  I’ve so far seen little to Engadget’s and its parent company’s credit these last few weeks.

What’s their issue, coming late to what they thought was an exclusive interview?  Peter Moore isn’t exactly just another Microsoft head.  If you get an interview with Peter Moore, you be on time, ya hear?

It boggles the mind how people who claim to be open and enjoy networking with fellow bloggers think it’s an acceptable tactic to undermine a competitior or rival’s interview simply because they happen to appear in it.

Add to the fact that they were 5 minutes late, obviously disappointed and upset that it wasn’t an exclusive (http://www.valleywag.com/tech/ryan-block/engadgets-ryan-block-this-isnt-an-exclusive-174258.php) and just all around grumpy and it starts to look a bit suspicious.

Dear Engadget:
Just because you were present, doesn’t mean you get to be the only ones who can publish coverage. It also doesn’t mean you get to hijack other organizations (who were right on time) and their coverage at your whim.

I can just see you guys bouncing on camera with any interview Game Spot or CNN runs and then sending off a blitz of cease and desist letters to each of them crying that you didn’t give your consent. *That’s* classy, Jason. Brilliant, even. Next time, they’ll make sure to mosaic you and your “this isn’t exclusive?” aw shucks right out of the frame.

**From the weblog of Jason Calacnis**

http://www.calacanis.com/2006/02/08/dealing-with-dummies-for-dummies/

Dealing with Dummies, For Dummies***

As you can imagine I’ve gotten a lot of legal letters over the past 10 years, but this one might take the cake.

It turns out the dummies at Wiley don’t want bloggers using “For Dummies” in their blog post titles—and they are searching the blogosphere looking for folks putting that in the title! One of our blogs, TVSquad, used “For Dummies” in a title recently and I had the email exchange below. Now, there is a long standing tradition of publications using slogans and trademarks in headlines (think of all the “Empire Stikes Back” headlines about Microsoft in tech magazines). That is *not* a trademark violation and it does *not* require trademark attribution—it’s a news headline. You are allowed to use a slogan or trademark from Coca-Cola or Pepsi in a headline as well. I hate these chilling effects bozos… get a clue dudes!

What next?!?!? Perhaps we should monitor chat rooms, message boards, and Skype conversations for people using “For Dummies,” and when they do we can force them to use the “FOR DUMMIES® is a registered trademark of Wiley Publishing, Inc.


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