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Countering a DMCA Takedown In the Magnet Wars 475

An anonymous reader writes "Zen Magnets, a maker of neodymium magnet toys, has been under assault by the much larger and better distributed Buckyballs, maker of a nearly identical toy. After Zen Magnets listed a couple of eBay auctions with a set of Buckyballs and a set of their own, asking customers to decide which was of higher quality, Buckyballs replied with a legal threat. Zen Magnets countered with an open video response, in which they presented the voicemail from Buckyballs and demonstrated their claims of quality through repeatable, factual tests, providing quantitative data to back up their assertions. Soon after, Buckyballs CEO Jake Bronstein got the video taken down from YouTube via a DMCA takedown, despite the fact that the only elements not made by Zen Magnets are the voicemail he left and some images of himself, which are low-resolution and publicly available online. Zen Magnets has decided to file a counter-takedown notice — not effective yet apparently, since the video is still marked as taken down." Slashdot's sister company ThinkGeek sells Buckyballs. No, we don't get kickbacks, but we totally should.
Update: 09/23 13:23 GMT by KD : Reader Coopjust (872796) points out one place where the disputed video has been mirrored.
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Countering a DMCA Takedown In the Magnet Wars

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  • bullcrap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @08:44AM (#33674110) Homepage

    I think this is an abuse of the DMCA (some would argue that any use of it is abuse, but that's a different topic.) If they can back up their assertions with data and repeatable demonstrations, quit yer bitchin' and make a better product.

  • Re:bullcrap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @08:53AM (#33674172) Homepage

    I have learned to include "I think" or "in my opinion" on Slashdot, regardless of what the topic is. I'd rather respond to posts like yours instead of "stop acting like your opinion is fact."

  • by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @08:53AM (#33674174) Journal

    YouTube is probably laughing right now... if anybody human actually saw it so soon.

    Not the way it should be, of course... a counter-takedown notice is basically legal notice that you, the uploader, take full legal responsibility for the content, and they must IMMEDIATELY restore it – and they face full legal responsibility of any losses you incur if they do not!

    (Personally I’d love to see the outcome of a lawsuit to try to recoup damages from YouTube after a counter-takedown notice was ignored. Granted they have other stuff in their TOS that pretty much makes them not liable for anything, but if they explicitly took something down because of the DMCA, shouldn’t they be liable under its terms?)

  • Re:bullcrap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @08:53AM (#33674176)
    Clearly you're not American and haven't been to America in a really long time. This is the way that corporations work. They could make a better product, but it's usually cheaper to abuse the court system or buy out the competition.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2010 @08:56AM (#33674206)

    I was planning this week to buy some bucky balls for a friend, guess I won't now.

  • news. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by postermmxvicom ( 1130737 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @09:00AM (#33674246)
    This is news. However, Buckyballs is certainly giving Zen Magnets lots of free advertising by making it newsworthy. I can only assume after watching the video that the people making their PR decisions are just that dense.
  • ThinkGeek (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @09:06AM (#33674322) Homepage Journal

    Slashdot's sister company ThinkGeek sells Buckyballs. No, we don't get kickbacks, but we totally should.

    Perhaps your sister company should stop selling the products of a known DMCA abuser?

  • by StuartHankins ( 1020819 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @09:12AM (#33674378)
    I will buy the Zen magnets instead. Screw the Buckyballs people for being such dicks.
  • by Narcocide ( 102829 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @09:32AM (#33674574) Homepage

    I think actually the *AA takes your a) and multiplies that number by about 600 then uses the result to determine damages.

  • Re:bullcrap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @09:34AM (#33674598) Journal

    In my opinion it's not "abuse" unless youtube refuses to restore the video.

    You see under DMCA law, youtube has no choice. If they receive a request they MUST take down the material. Youtube is not supposed to make judgment calls on the validity of the request. Step 2 is to submit the anti-takedown request which youtube must also obey and restore the material (or else fce a lawsuit). Step 3 is for the offended company to either take it to court.

  • by definate ( 876684 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @09:38AM (#33674656)

    LOL, After watching the response Zen Magnets vs Buckyballs Comparison Video [youtube.com], Zen Magnets seems far superior to BuckyBalls.

    Not because of product quality, though that seems significantly superior, but because they seem to be way more in tune with the nerd culture. Buckyballs should be ashamed of themselves for issuing a DMCA takedown notice. No geek/nerd would stoop so low.

    In comparison, Zen Magnets seems to be kicking it nerdcore, which is how I roll.

    ThinkGeek, you need to drop Buckyballs and pick up Zen Magnets. You gotta protect your nerd points, and getting behind a DMCA abuser, and a company which doesn't seem to understand the geek culture, is not cool. Drop Buckyballs, pick up Zen Magnets!

  • Publicly Available (Score:2, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @09:40AM (#33674696)

    ...and some images of himself, which are low-resolution and publicly available online.

    Just because it's low resolution and just because it's available online does not necessarily mean you have the legal right to use an image.

  • Re:bullcrap (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2010 @09:42AM (#33674706)
    Bravo! I applaud this. Too many individuals on Slashdot post comments with such conviction, yet they know nothing about the topic at hand. Too many uneducated rationalizations.
  • And to think... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Majestix ( 41486 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @10:00AM (#33674930)

    ...I was going to buy some of the Buckyballs product when they arrived at the local game store next to my job. After this I think i'll give my business to the Zen folks.


  • Re:bullcrap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saider ( 177166 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @10:15AM (#33675120)

    The problem with the Wal-Mart philosophy is that up-front cost becomes the only measure of "value". Things like longevity and quality are not considered.

  • Re:bullcrap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kilfarsnar ( 561956 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @10:15AM (#33675124)

    People want cheap cheap cheap, so the design choices you mentioned were made to reach a price point.

    Indeed they do. I have had multi-millionaires rave to me about how cheap Wallmart is. I don't fully get it. I understand wanting to pay less for something. But at some point that low price comes at the cost of quality or features. That seems like a bad trade to me, but many people don't seem to consider it. Maybe they think that if their widget breaks, it's ok because it's cheap to replace. That still seems short-sighted to me.

  • Re:bullcrap (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2010 @10:30AM (#33675352)
    That has to be the creepiest dream story I've ever heard / read.
  • Re:bullcrap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @10:56AM (#33675666) Homepage

    We have few options to buy long-lasting products because nobody wants to pay a premium for higher quality. There is a good reason for this. Factory production is a process that can be automated from end to end with most of the labor coming from low-cost offshore workers.

    Repair is a different matter. It takes more labor to fix an appliance than it does to make one. The repair tech has a higher skill level than most of the factory workers, and this labor cannot be sent offshore. The cost of parts is much higher as well. Somebody has to operate a warehouse full of replacement parts for machines made over many years. Some of those parts will sit on the shelf for years, some will never be sold. Therefore, the markup on parts has to subsidize the slow-selling and non-selling parts.

    If someone could make a durable appliance that NEVER had to be fixed, it would be worth the premium. But as soon as service is required, we all know that a service call is dangerously close to the cost of a cheapie replacement appliance. Consumers generally demand features (like computerized controls) that increase the chance of failure at some point -- regardless of how well-made the rest of the machine is.

    Kirby vacuum cleaners are awesome machines. But if you buy a plastic Hoover every 3 years, it will probably cost less (even if you buy 7 of them over 21 years). Your carpet will still be clean, and your risk at any given point is limited to the cost of a Walmart plastic vacuum cleaner. The Kirby will cost more to fix than the Hoover will cost to buy.

    Some people buy exotic cars with the full understanding that the annual cost of repairs will be dangerously close to the payments on a brand new Toyota. But if you love the car, you accept the tradeoff. This happens far less often with appliances because it's hard to love a refrigerator all that much.

  • Re:bullcrap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blackraven14250 ( 902843 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @11:14AM (#33675902)

    "The vice president's office was furnished with a folding lawn chair and a chaise lounge." i.e. Cutting costs. Saving money.

    Yet the owners with the highest number of shares, the Waltons (all 4 of them), each walk away with billions per year, while the people working there live just below the poverty line.

  • Re:bullcrap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by saider ( 177166 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @11:23AM (#33675996)

    I have a VCR that still works (it was bought in 1993 when I was in college). I also still have my original Sony CD player bought in 1988 (not the size of a small TV) and it is still plays CDs from time to time. My Panasonic receiver and amp I bought in 1995 are still driving my 30 year old speakers. My appliances (washer, dryer, fridge, dishwasher) are all older than my 10 year old son, with only minor repairs here and there.

    Granted, I don't use the CD player much because I have my computer hooked up to the stereo now. But why should I have to repurchase something just because some marketing droid figured that everyone will want to toss ProductX in 3 years. Most components of playing music (amp, speakers, etc) haven't changed much. Mowing the lawn and doing laundry have not changed much in 30+ years. Why should I buy a cheap machine, when I can pay twice as much and get a machine that lasts much, much longer? Appliances never break on Saturday morning right before you were heading off to Home Depot. They go out on Sunday night on the week that you need to work overtime in order to get the Super-Important project done on time.

    I vote with my wallet for quality all the time. That is why I do not shop at Wal-mart. I have found that even the quality brands will have cheap-ass Walmart-only models that are far inferior to the other models that they sell. The problem is that people do not do their research and buy these inferior models and send the message to the retailers that "I like crap". This causes other retailers to do the same in order to compete. This makes the quality models much harder to find, and more importantly, the retailers never get the message because they are plenty busy selling crap to people who don't care.

  • Re:bullcrap (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2010 @11:31AM (#33676098)

    Yes, and their lawyers have a private jet to go union busting. There's BS for you. If the US citizens and congress all shopped at WalMart you'd be dead within 5 years. They're scum. They treat their employees like slaves, use bully marketing to put local businesses out, and abuse their position to enforce their "morality" on others (no birth control in WalMart, and we put the other pharmacies out of business, so guess what little girl... you'll do it our way).

    The sooner you wake up to your rape by these thugs, the better.

  • Re:bullcrap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpeZek ( 970136 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @11:38AM (#33676162) Journal

    their appliances tend to be bloody heavy

    I've found that judging a lot of different things by weight gives you a good indication of the quality of that product.

    Heavier furniture? They didn't use cheap wood. Heavy fridge? It's metal, not plastic. Heavy powersupply? It has quality caps and sinks. Heavy metal...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2010 @11:52AM (#33676320)

    Absolutely. I have been thinking of getting a set of buckyballs myself and never heard of zen magnets before today. Aside from the zen magnets being cheaper (albeit their website is poorly designed), I have absolutely no desire to give buckyballs any business given their behavior. With this particular product the market is small enough where I have the option not to support this behavior. Unfortunately with most large market products you don't.

  • Re:bullcrap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday September 23, 2010 @12:08PM (#33676534) Homepage Journal

    Often you're not paying for anything but a name; I could have spent $150 on a pair of Nike shoes, but I bought a pair at WalMart for $5 several years ago; they're only now to the point of needing replacement. I'd be willing to bet that if I'd bought Nike they'd be shot, too.

    I pick up Nike tshirts at garage sales for seventy five cents. It's stupid to pay extra for "quality" in an item you don't plan on keeping long, and IMO it's doubly stupid to pay extra for a name.

    Aleive costs three times what the same strength generic naproxin sodium costs, but the product is identical. The extra cost buys you nothing.

  • by zenmagnets ( 1907522 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @12:51PM (#33677120)
    Less stress -- > Better health.
  • Re:bullcrap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Grim Reefer2 ( 1195989 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @02:00PM (#33678082)

    Sears' appliances have always been rebranded units from the major mfrs, i.e. whirlpool, GE, etc., so their quality decline is due to the other brands.

    Their customer service went into a severe nosedive about 2-3 years ago.

    That's about the time K-Mart bought them.

  • Re:bullcrap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @04:42PM (#33680046)

    The problem I have is inappropriate use of plastic.

    Using one metal gear instead of a plastic gear makes the difference between your blender being durable or being a piece of junk.

    My laptop plug broke- why? Plastic mountings. The fix? A free upgrade to a metal bracket inside.

    It's not that they replace some parts with plastic or cheap parts. It's that they replace key/high wear parts with cheap/plastic parts.


    Old story-- during world war II, they were losing bombers and so they analyzed the planes that made it back and noted the areas that were damaged and which were undamaged.

    Where did they increase the armor?

    In the areas which were not hit. Apparently hits on those areas took down the planes.
    the planes survived the areas which were getting hit a lot.

    It's okay to have a plastic container and housing on a blender. but for god's sake don't cheap out on the motor and the gears.

    And part of the problem is as you (and others) indicate, they take an expensive "name" brand and then hollow it out with lower and lower quality while still charging a premium price. So it's hard to find a reliable brand based on 3-5 year old information. it needs to be good 5 years ago and then have folks still thinking it's good today.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"