Cudo Stupidity Followup
Posted on February 29, 2012 Posted by John Scalzi 13 Comments
Regarding that oblivious Australian online retailer Cudo, co-owned by Microsoft and Channel Nine, that offered a cheap reader bundled with a CD full of hot, piping stack of copyright violations, it looks like there’s some positive movement.
Here’s a nice piece on the matter from The Sydney Morning Herald, an Australian newspaper (disclosure: I was contacted by the reporter for background information). The gist of it is that Cudo a) asserts it is not going to ship the copyright violating discs and will apparently upgrade the eBook readers while they’re at it, b) is trying to shift the blame for their screw-up to the vendor they were working with on the sale, c) is getting pummeled for its idiocy by publishers and the government. Here’s a relevant quote from the piece, from NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts: “I don’t believe that group buying sites can walk away from quality or compliance of the goods and services sold through their sites.”
Spoken for truth, Minister Roberts. Due diligence is not a particularly novel concept. The time for Cudo to kick this stupidity to the curb would have been before it blithely offered up thousands of copyright violations, not after thousands of folks paid for them. The fact that this ridiculous CD of copyright violations made it out for sale suggests that the people at Cudo are either ethically challenged or incompetent, or both. It’s nice that folks were around to complain loudly and publicly enough to get some forward movement on this, and to get Cudo to act in the interests of writers, however grudgingly. But it’s not at all clear, given the site’s earlier actions (like removing a link to the listing of the works on the copyright-violating CD from their sales page, but not the sales page itself, which continued to advertise the CD as part of the package), that if Cudo hasn’t been embarrassed into doing something — and faced with potential lawsuits, let’s not forget that — it would have done anything at all.
In short, this episode has not left me impressed with Cudo at all. I’d like to chalk this up to stupid mistakes. I’m not entirely sure I can.
Heh, I tweeted fairfax (who own SMH) with a link to your blog yesterday John, I’ll claim responsibility for putting them in the loop!! :)
Excellent. That’s how this gets done.
I tweeted the journo yesterday – didn’t get a response but glad it got picked up!
Anyone who contacted a journalist about this gets my gratitude.
I think this might come under corporate copyright clauses 1) do as we say not as we do and 2) we don’t give 2 sh*ts if we are not losing money.
I used to work for a group buying company and I am not at all surprised that this happened. In my time there, I notified management of two scam deals that they were preparing to launch. One they ignored entirely, the other was only paused after they realised the URL they were using to advertise the product would link to a site that said in red capital letters something along the lines of “The ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commissions] has ordered us to announce that our product is a scam.” (Even then, the sales team tried to push it through.)
Undoubtedly, many more dodgy deals got through in the short time I was there, given the shear volume of deals, the ridiculous emphasis on sales, and the hugely overworked and understaffed editorial department.
I was later fired for being “too difficult to communicate with.” Something that still amuses me endlessly.
Obviously the mistake they made was not having so many daily deals through their site that it would be impossible (or at least unprofitably so) to adequately police them, and that they would therefore have to rely on crowdsourcing due diligence. That’s how the big boys do it.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go turn some wikipedia articles into ‘Study Guides’ and self-publish them through Orinoco.com at $10 a pop. What’s that you say, sleazy but legal? Ah, but I’m not going to include a licensing notice stating that the work is released under CC-BY-SA! Mwa-haha.
The Company executive’s comment is pretty funny. Here’s a couple of training opportunities for their employees,
“Look Before You Post: How To Not Create an International Shitstorm”
“Multimillion Dollar Lawsuits, From Several Sources at Once, Over a Single Dumb Act: Why This is Bad”
The Long Arm Of John Scalzi! You’re the man.
The proper response should be a “Take Down” letter (delivered overnight express) regarding one of the copyrighted works, followed up the next day, if the page is still there, with a MASSIVE lawsuit demanding complete access to sales records and asking for the maximum in copyright fines. THAT would get much faster results (as well as possibly destroying the company).
I just got an email newsletter from the Australian Booksellers Association, which I’m a member of. This is the top story. They seriously aren’t happy. There’s the regular stuff, talk about this being theft and such, then finishes with a call for a full investigation. Interesting, and thanks for bringing it to a wider visibility.
Not at all surprised to hear that. Don’t know the lie of the land, but I suspect the trade in Oz is a lot like in New Zealand: Intensely competitive but still pretty collegial. Pardon my French, but the book world is too small a pond for anyone to piss in.