Magnet Madness: Legal Threats, DMCA Takedowns & Goofy Videos & Photos — But No Actual Lawsuits

For a while now, people have been submitting versions of this video made by a guy from Zen Magnets, in which he both reveals a voicemail he received from Jake Bronstein, the owner of competing firm Buckyballs, and then proceeds to compare the two products. Apparently, it all started when Zen Magnets decided to sell a package of both its own magnets and Buckyballs’ competing product, in order to let people compare directly. Bronstein didn’t like the public claims that Zen Magnets were better, so he left an angry ranting voicemail, demanding they show official testing results by the end of the day or he would get an “army of lawyers” after Zen Magnets:

Zen Magnet’s response is cute, if at times juvenile. Beyond playing the message, they then compared the two sets of magnets on screen, highlighting various tests which they claim show that Zen Magnets’ offering is of higher quality. Where the story then got weird, is that the Zen Magnets’ video disappeared — the result of a DMCA takedown.

Now, Bronstein appears to be admitting that he sent the takedown notice, because the video includes a few photos of him (ever so briefly). That seems like a pretty clear abuse of the DMCA takedown process, as it would be difficult to argue that the use of those photos was not fair use. Of course, at the same time, Bronstein also admits that his voicemail “was off the Douche-o-meter” and sent Gizmodo a photo of him holding a trophy for the “Douchiest Voicemail of the Year.”

Of course, I’d argue that the bogus DMCA takedown was even worse than the voicemail, but none of this fight does Buckyballs any favors whatsoever. In their anger at being compared to Zen Magnets, the company has come off as petty, vindictive, willing to make questionable use of the law to silence criticism… and, at the same time, called a lot more attention to all of that. Perhaps if they’d just let the original eBay sales go through without comment, things wouldn’t be so bad. And, after all, if they really believe that their own magnets are better than Zen Magnets’, then, um, wouldn’t they be happy that Zen Magnets was out selling their products for them?

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