Friday, April 15, 2016

Censorship on the Internet: how far can Mattel go to protect their interests?

A couple of days ago, I saw a post by a fellow doll collector on Facebook : it mentioned that a common friend and popular doll blogger, Ada - better known as Papusile Mele  had been blocked on Facebook and could not post anything for the next few days. I soon discovered that she had been blocked  by Mattel. The  reason for this was that she had posted on her Facebook page a sneak preview photo of the upcoming Mattel Star Trek dolls.


That photo, showing three upcoming dolls from the Star Trek series (Spock, Kirk and Uhura in the likeness of the original actors), had been already posted in many Facebook groups, chat rooms and even some obscure online shops (Ada posted a Linkin to a Greek one!), so blocking her for posting it was a bit extreme - and without even warning her first or asking her politely to delete it, as would have been the proper way for Mattel to follow.


Companies have the right to restrict the use of their photos, especially of they are from unreleased products or have been made known to certain groups of people under condition of confidentiality and guidelines for their publication. That would be the case, for example, with photos of dolls send to W Club members by Integrity Toys or the Barbie Collector club and their sneak pics. From what I know about this particular case, this is not a sneak photo from a club etc., but a picture probably leaked online by someone with access to it. 


So, however ridicule may sound to you, it is perfectly legitimate for Ada to post it, until Mattel asks her to pull it down. Which never happened. She got blocked for three days instead. Just like that. It sure does not look good for Mattel - it makes them look like a bully scaring people off. Which is exactly the opposite of what a company like it should be doing. Was it that hard to simply ask for the photo to be taken down? And the irony is that Ada is a genuine Barbie fan: her blog and Facebook page is a testament to that and a source of valuable information for Barbie collectors all over the world. It is ridiculous to attack people who support the doll industry like this, especially when they do better PR for their product that the company interested. 

Shame on you Mattel.

All photos are courtesy of Mattel, from previous Star Trek releases.

16 comments:

  1. this is such a wrong marketing move. Doll blog sites create excitement for collectors and I believe they help the sales of the products. If mattel don't want the people see their upcoming dolls, then don't take photos of it until they are ready to release them. Simple, right?

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  2. I live in a country where many of Mattel's products are never known. People like me rely on people like you, or Ada or Mike N' Elio, who so generously take the time to show and promote their products, so we know them and decide on buying them. Are they crazy? They should even pay you for doing it. They look to me so scared about their decreasing sales numbers that they depend on the expectation and "mistery" surrounding their future releases when in fact they should worry about the poor quality of the product itself. They owe her an apology.

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  3. True words, Ada is doing better work for Barbie than Mattel is.

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  4. I totally agree, they should have asked politelly to remove the pictures. And if you want to blame someone, try to find the original source instead of blocking someone that just reposted something. I know that Ada has already had problems with Mattel because of this things, and I think that Mattel doesn't appreciate what Ada does. I hope this doesn't happen to her anymore!

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  5. Wow. Thank you so much! There's a lot to be said about my relationship with Mattel, a lot of things that i have not made public before. This even includes them sending me legal letters about images I got doing a search on Amazon. Amazon!!! Yet they had no idea the images were there and were threatening me because I "leeked" them. Insane... But this time they have gone too far. My FB account is linked to many other pages and projects I have and it's also linked to pages for which I work so this ban really pissed me off. :(

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  6. Yes, such a shame for Mattel and a really low ball punch for Ada, who is one of their best ambasador for colletor's community in Europe - still, after all that they put her through?! Instead of making her their marketing partner for new product releases they are threatening her with a lawsuit? That's just an unacceptable way of dealing with Barbie fans. I mean, what's wrong with Mattel, they still does not offer shipping to Europe, so I feel like a second class collector to them.

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  7. well written sentiments! Ada is an inspiration to many of us and yes, to those of us who live in countries that never see much of the full range of Barbie products, it is only by these dedicated bloggers that we get these images of what is coming out and what we will be missing out on! Fix the original leak Mattel, don't blame Ada way down the line. Love your work Ada. Thanks to The Doll Chronicles for your insight.

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  8. I agree. I think Mattel is focusing on the wrong things here. They should be happy that you are sharing photos of these upcoming dolls as it does build excitement for their products and I think it increases their sales! Shame on you Mattel!

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  9. I thought these dolls had already been released, not long after the first Star Trek reboot.

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    1. The photos in the post are of older releases, there's a note at the end of the post

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  10. I am pretty sure that mattel has no say on who is banned on facebook. And facebook does have rules about sharing copyrighted content. So sure mattel probably files a complaint. Hut facebook was the one who banned her not mattel. So whilst we are disapointed with mattel. Be angry at facebook.

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    1. But it was Mattel making the complaint in the first place.

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  11. Good Grief. Barbie just gets more and more skinny.

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  12. Had to stop and think about this. My first reaction was...it's only a doll! What's the deal. On the one hand, you would think Mattel--a company with slumping sales in the Barbie department--would appreciate all the publicity it can get. It really doesn't produce ads focusing on its adult collector community. So banning Papusile seems extreme and as you pointed out, they should have ask her to remove the photo before complaining to Facebook. On the other hand, as someone who has a lot of photos floating around in the digital sky, it is encouraging to know that Facebook takes copyright infringement seriously. Bottom line is...companies shouldn't release information more too far in advance and expect it will be kept secret. And..when it happens, common sense and a calm demeanor should prevail. We are, after all, talking dolls, not nuclear physics.

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