What happens when you threaten to sue someone over a YouTube video?
Interest in that video always increases, as stated by the Streisand effect. One coal and mining company in Australia is learning this lesson the hard way.
Coal company giant Xstrata threatened to sue Mumbrella, a media and marketing website in Australia, for defamation on April 20 after Mumbrella wrote an article about a one-and-a-half-minute parody video made by environmentalists and anti-coal activists.
Mumbrella promptly removed the video from the article, but wrote about the legal threat on their website.
Mumbrella Editor Tim Burrowes then went on to tell Australia’s The Sydney Morning Herald that the legal threat article was the site's "most read story on the site by a long way over the last 72 hours," with traffic mostly coming from Twitter.
The tongue-in-cheek parody video was originally made by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union in 2011 as part of their “This is Our Story” campaign but was deleted from their YouTube account in December after they were threatened by Xstrata.
A YouTuber named pourouge12 uploaded a new copy on April 15, setting off a new round of legal threats from Xstrata, which in turn increased the video’s popularity. Views of the newly uploaded parody video, which were at 8,000 views on April 20, currently sit at just under 35,000 at press time.
YouTube statistics reveal almost all of those views are coming from within Australia.
“My job is to taste test all the river water we pollute,” the fake environmental manager says for an unnamed big coal company in the parody ad. “Our environmental plan is basically, to show you a whole lot of fields of wheat even though wheat has nothing to do with mining.”
"This is beeeautiful country.... My job is to strip mine it," wrote 1979DrNick on YouTube in a top comment, quoting the parody video.
Since the lawsuit was threatened against Mumbrella, the comments section of the YouTube video has heated up. As YouTuber novarse pointed out, “[Y]ou can tell [which ones are] the pro-mining people” because “they're the ones leaving aggressive comments,” such as MrWash0ut’s comment:
“[P]eople against mines should never ever use anything that is made from mining.[H]ave fun living in a tree you f---ing morons."
Update: Since the publication of this article, the YouTuber pourouge12 has made the video private. At press time, the only version available is Xstrata's original ad, without the dubbed over parody voice.
Here's another copy of the parody. There's no telling how long it will stay online, so watch it while you still can.
Photo via YouTube