How to stuff up your own viral campaign

How to stuff up your own viral campaign

This post started out being merely a quick plug for a YouTube video that really tickled me. It has turned into something else because of the bizarre actions of the video creators.

Yesterday, two YouTube vids of Google Wave Cinema were doing the rounds – Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting – reinterpreting scenes from both movies as if communicated over Google Wave. Today, on searching for the vids to embed them here, I discovered that many versions had been taken down with the message: This video is no longer available due to copyright infringement.

My first reaction was that either the movie studios must have issued a takedown notice or that YouTube was being overly cautious. So imagine my suprise when the error message was changed later in the day to: This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Whirled Interactive. That’s right, the creators of the video didn’t want other people uploading or distributing their comedy gem.

It seems Whirled has had YouTube taking down copies of the video all day just as more keep popping up in a digital version of whack-a-mole. This has broken hundreds of embeds the vids had already achieved in plenty of blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, including some influential places such as Lifehacker.

Treating the fans of their videos in this way seems counter intuitive to a strategy that should be about encouraging people to share. Most videos go viral because people are allowed to share, upload and distribute how they want. This viral campaign is now going to have a rough time getting off the ground with much of the initial blog buzz now on stony ground.

It is also just a little bit ironic citing copyright over a video that lifts entire scenes of soundtrack and dialogue from popular movies. What makes it even more ironic is that Whirled’s YouTube account used to upload the ‘official’ version of the video is called Copyrighthater.

Yeah. Really.

Anyway, as the videos are still extremely good, especially in demonstrating the capabilities of Google Wave, here is Google Wave Cinema: Pulp Fiction. (Warning: strong language. But then you knew that didn’t you.)

So, Whirled, if you want to go viral, don’t hunt down the very people doing you a favour by distributing your video to an ever widening audience. If you’re putting content out there and want it to go viral, you need to let it go.

Oh, and don’t start making claims of copyright when your own username makes that sound a little hypocritical.