Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Burt’s Bees doesn’t care about you

Wherein this is real outrage, not the usual faux outrage

Sunday was a beautiful day, so with most of the cleanup out of the way we headed to Midtown for the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. One of the nicer art shows in the country with many of the artists traveling the country. Fine artwork in all mediums.

We brought home a whimsical still life photography print from Jennifer Prince. We were very impressed with Karin Connolly's ethereal floral photographs printed on canvas. And the glass work at Tray Cool Glass reminds me that I need to start practicing my kiln work again. Interestingly the Tray Cool website has very few of the more interesting pieces they were exhibiting - check out the bowls and sconces for the best examples of their artistry.

Now that we have the pleasantries out of the way, let's turn our attention to Burt's Bees. They have a traveling exhibit extolling the virtues of their products, with lots of samples. Sounded interesting, but just before you enter the tent is one of the most obnoxious signs I've ever read:

Just in case that wasn't clear, here's the text:

This event and its activities participants will be photographed and/or recorded.

By your presence, you grant Burt's Bees and Alloy Marketing and Promotions, LLC (the "Companies") the right to use your name, biographical data, portrait, photograph, voice, or likeness in any form, in whole or in part, for advertising, promotional, or trade purposed related to the Companies products and services in any and all media, without territorial, time, use, or other limitation, and without compensation, notification or permission. You further release the Companies from all liabilities arising out of any distortion or faulty mechanical reproductions of your likeness, and agree that any and all material, storage mediums, and recordings, regardless of form, containing your likeness and or voice are and shall remain the property of the Companies.

Thank you.

I know I have a few lawyer types occasionally stopping by, so I'm hoping they can tell me if I'm overreacting. Because to me, this reads as Burt's Bees saying they can do the following and screw you for complaining:
  • Use your photograph in any way they like.
  • Use film of you in any way they like.
  • Use a recording of your voice in any way they like.
  • This is not limited to Burt's Bees; if Alloy Marketing wants to use your face to launch a nationwide campaign about the dangers of herpes, too bad.
  • Maybe you're allergic to honey and are just accompanying a friend. Next thing you know, you're on a billboard with the caption: "I love to rub honey all over my body." Sucker, you chose to enter the tent.
  • Don't forget that part about releasing them from liability arising from distortion of your likeness. If they want to digitize your likeness into a film where you looks like you're clubbing baby seals, so be it.

Burt's Bees is claiming the right to do anything with your likeness and voice, and say anything about you, good or bad. They claim this right forever and state that they own you. Since you are their property, they can sell you to anyone else and then that company can do anything they want with you.

Frankly, I find this behavior completely disgusting and insulting, however harmless their intentions may be. Needless to say, I did not enter the tent and I saw a few other people leave as well. Not that it necessarily matters as they had a cameraman filming people standing in line waiting to get in. We've purchased some Burt's Bees products in the past, but no more.

Anyone else bothered by this complete lack of respect for personal privacy? Burt's Bees - you are dead to me.


Blogger reader_iam said...

Wait, they posted this at the entrance to a tent where they were trying to sell things? How odd.

But then, since you mentioned a line outside, I guess it didn't matter.

I'd find that offputting, to say the least.

4/10/2006 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Ahistoricality said...

I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think that's legally enforceable. If it were a news organization, maybe, but there's no way that for-profit gets away with that, is there?

It's an attempt to get away with something via legalese: there's got to be a technical term for it, but basically they're threatening you with lawyers.

4/10/2006 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger XWL said...

Living in LA and going out from time to time, I've run into roving bands of tapers for 'reality' dating shows.

On public streets they need written approval to use your image, but when they enter a business for taping (one of my favorite pool halls (now since closed) showed up frequently on Blind Date) they post a sign similar to the one you see, and it's assumed that by entering the premises consent was given to be used in subsequent airings (without compensation).

I love watching the producers have 'script' meetings with the 'daters'.

(what you thought that behavior was purely spontaneous?)

4/10/2006 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger Ahistoricality said...

I can see it when you're an incidental background person, and the "use" is, as you note, reshowing of something that doesn't feature you in a good or bad light. But that's not what Burt's is claiming. I still don't think they can get away with it....

4/11/2006 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Pooh said...

Why didn't you call sooner...

(note: this is not legal advice, I would never have you as a client anyway. Plus I'm not licensed in all 50 states (or at least 49 of them), standard disclaimer yadda yadda yadda)

Yes that's largely unenforceable. Your picture - probably, though not in a 'defamatory' manner, considering that you aren't a 'public figure' the bar isn't set too high for defamation. But if they have a picture of you doing Beeswaxy things, they are probably ok.

Your name? Dicier.

As to any release of liability? Puh-Lease.

4/11/2006 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Pooh, that's the thing - if the notice is bullshit and everyone thinks it's bullshit, then why bother? Or at least why go the nuclear option with all the "we own your ass" language?

There's got to be a more friendly way to let people know they might be filmed.

I don't even know why people bother with release notices, since they don't seem to do any good or prevent stupid lawsuits. Many years ago I did some skydiving and we spent 2 hours going over video, lectures, and release forms about how dangerous this could be and we release the center from liability and promise that we or our survivors will not sue. Everyone pretty much says it's a waste of time, because people still sue and the releases usually don't mean anything in court. SO WHY BOTHER.

I would never have you as a client anyway...hey

4/12/2006 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger Pooh said...

They bother because you never know. It might hold up. Or, at the least it leaves with some bargaining room if it comes to that.

To put it another way, if I'm the BB lawyer, I'm casting as wide a plausible net as possible because what happens to me if they want to use something, end up in court, and the judge says "well, you could've gottent that, but you forgot to ask for it." hello malpractice...

And hey, I owed you for the Family Guy related er....food invasion.

4/12/2006 09:19:00 PM  

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