There is an old song made famous by The Mills Brothers. The first two lines are:
You always hurt the one you love
The one you shouldn’t hurt at all
Today’s screed is the unbelievable tale of a media entity that is doing just that. Why unbelievable? Because if I asked you to tell me the absolute dumbest thing any company could do you just might respond with exactly what this company is doing. Let me explain.
The Walking Dead is AMC’s (and maybe TV‘s) biggest show. Not unexpectedly, there are many fan groups that interact via social media. One of the biggest – about 400,000 strong – is a Facebook group called “The Spoiling Dead Fans.” As you might guess from the name, part of what the group does is to make predictions about what will occur in upcoming episodes, and lately, it’s about who was killed by a barbed wire coated baseball bat (named Lucille). These fans, as you might guess, would be classified as “hard-core.” They watch the show, the discuss the show, they pick apart every episode for clues. In short – they’re what every media entity wants: engaged, excited consumers.
So how has AMC rewarded these loyal fans? In their words:
In the past two years, AMC has filed several wrongful DMCA notices against us with full knowledge that we could not file counter-notices, hired investigators to intimidate our members, and threatened our local members with arrest, among other questionable acts.
Yep. They’re threatening to sue them. AMC believes “the predictions on the board are based on copyright protected, trade secret information about the most critical plot information in the unreleased next season of The Walking Dead”. If you’re not shaking your head about now, you should be. It’s not as if the fans have released footage or are torrenting purloined episodes. All they’re doing is keeping the show top of mind while it’s off the air between seasons. Is suing them for that really the best response?
If you’re over the age of 30, you’re old enough to remember when the music industry spent a lot of time and money suing consumers rather than using those resources to come up with a better business model (Steve Jobs did that for them). I think that alienation persists to this day.
I can’t imagine any instance where suing your best customers – hurting the ones who you shouldn’t hurt at all – is the best solution to a problem. Frankly, I’m not even sure that in this case there even is a problem. You?