Social media is usually not the right time or place for companies to fight - it's just an easy win

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(Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

A perfect example of one of my biggest pet peeves has appeared, and the results are exactly why it bothers me so much. I'm talking about the slapfight between Dbrand and CASETiFY about stolen images and artwork.

If you were smart enough not to pay any attention (I wasn't), it seems that CASETiFY used images on their popular phone cases that belong to Dbrand. I'm not going to talk about a company's ability to take photos of copyrighted work and get their own copyright or how image licensing works because I only understand enough about it to get a headache, but it happened. 

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We all know it happened because companies worth millions of dollars are on social media telling us how bad the other guy is and that they are victims. This is the internet, dammit, and we must get our sympathy from people we don't care about.

I'm being overly harsh here because it helps me prove a point. It appears that Dbrand's work was used without their permission, and they have every right to be mad about it. I assume they are also speaking with attorneys about the potential financial damage this may have caused and will take appropriate action. 

I may think the legal system is busted, and copyright laws are purposefully complicated to make lawyers the real winners, but Dbrand should protect its work and its money. In a real courtroom, not Twitter or X or whatever the hell it is this week.

It's the trying to win the court of public opinion thing that bothers me. Obviously, you're allowed to hate the other company and chime in to speak about your displeasure, and if that's what you want to do, go for it. I'm literally voicing my own displeasure here, so it's an idea I can get behind. The difference is I'm speaking for me, not some social media manager doing this:

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Make sure you either follow that to see the original or expand it so you can see the original image being quoted here. Pay special attention to the third paragraph, and you'll see why it's a really bad idea for companies to do this.

Drand's antics got some person or persons so worked up they attacked CASETiFY's website. Absorb that thought into your brain and think about it. Someone broke the law because a brand they like complained on social media. According to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a U.S. law, whoever did this could face up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Over a goddamned phone case.

I don't think Dbrand is responsible for a thing another person did, but if I were an exec at CASETiFY I'd certainly be talking to my lawyers about ways to say it was. My problem is that this happens when companies try to manipulate us into hating another company. 

It sucks that some other guy stole your ideas or imagery, Dbrand, and I hope you win in court if that's the case. You've possibly convinced some idiot into committing a felony, though, so it's time to stop.

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The scope of this feud is certainly different from something like Apple versus Samsung, but one thing is the same — a company used its perceived victimhood to win in the court of public opinion. 

Here's a shocker — companies pull this sort of stunt as a way to advertise. People like myself, who would never care about a company that makes phone cases, are now talking about it and naming names. It's free publicity and may drive sales by showing you a product you didn't know existed

There could be repercussions, though. This makes me never want to buy a product from both the company that stole images and the company that is trying to make me pick a side. 

Most likely, any ill will you might hold against either side will soon be forgotten or forgiven, especially if you see a product you like. A good social media manager knows how to play the game and win.

In a perfect world, this case would be one where copyright and licensing laws received enough attention that they were clarified and, if need be, modernized. It won't be, and if it goes to an actual court, one side will be fined and have to pay some lawyers. None of us will care about that unless the loser gets on social media and tells us we should care.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • PookiePrancer
    "I don't think Dbrand is responsible for a thing another person did, but if I were an exec at CASETiFY I'd certainly be talking to my lawyers about ways to say it was."

    That, right there, undermined the entire article.
    Reply