June 29, 2017

Discovery Upset About Parody Spanking

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sparred with Discovery Communications over the media company’s efforts to silence a website that criticized a Discovery marketing campaign.

Discovery Upset About Parody Spanking
Discovery Upset About Parody Spanking

Sometimes a story has “Friday” written all over it. Especially when the domain name involved is SpankMyMarketer.com.

The people at HotRodders.com thought it was amusing when marketers associated with The Learning Channel and the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) spammed their forum with an advertising campaign called “Spank My Monkey,” which they described here:

“The promotional material had been posted by Dodgy Monkey Media, and it featured Gas Monkey Garage, a fairly well-known hot rod shop. Included in the promotional material was a very odd photograph and a disturbing shop video.

The promotional photograph featured the owner of Gas Monkey Garage, Richard Rawlings, posing in women’s thong underwear with his shop manager. The thong underwear was imprinted with the Gas Monkey slogan: “Spank My Monkey”, a slang phrase for “Masturbate Me”.

The Learning Channel’s parent firm Discovery has been trying to get the SpankMyMarketer site to remove a template that allows visitors to create humorous takes on the ad, using images from the ill-fated marketing effort and from Discovery’s sites, according to an EFF report:

A lawyer for Discovery has demanded that the website operator remove the template, claiming it infringes Discovery’s copyright and is used to defame the company. But in a letter sent in response today, EFF outlines how the use of the images in the template is clearly a non-infringing parody.

EFF also explains that the comments that offended Discovery are not libelous and that, in any event, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects the creator of the SpankMaker from liability for comments written by others.

“Once again, a business is trying to use false legal claims to chill criticism,” said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. “Fortunately, more and more, the targets of these kinds of threats are fighting back.”

It’s pretty amusing when a media company that should by definition have some media savvy needs to find out the hard way that marketing campaigns containing the phrases “Spank My Monkey” and “Anti-Christ” may come back to haunt them.


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About David Utter 902 Articles
David Utter is a business and technology writer for SecurityProNews and WebProNews.