Minutebuzz in hot water for selling plagiarized love story to Coca Cola

Jan 24, 2014
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It seems that Shia LaBeouf isn’t the only one getting in trouble for ‘being inspired’ by the works of the others – French viral video site Minutebuzz is in hot water for their most recent viral creation, a video about a young Frenchman who decides to get a last-minute plane ticket to Cancun to surprise his girlfriend. He records the travel, the surprise, and the 48-hour vacation that results. It’s a touching story, but it’s one you may have heard before: perhaps from Casey Neistat’s YouTube video: “The Surprise in South Africa.”

While the two videos are nearly identical in their plot, and even scene layout, what really seems to have gotten Neistat angry, which he shared in a blog post responding to the video, was that the video ends with the hashtag #DRDC (Des Raisons d’y Croire, or “Reasons to Believe”), which is part of an ongoing Twitter campaign by Coca Cola France.

“It’s hard to pin point why this upsets me so much.  Copying is part of the game.  This is not the first, certainly won’t be the last, time something like this takes place.  Maybe it’s because my movie was made purely out of love and happiness…Or maybe that I’ve never made any money off of my video, I don’t even have it monetized on YouTube.  It’s a story that has made me so happy to relive again and again by watching my movie and watching this interloper’s shitty Coca-Cola rip-off just ruins it for me.” – Casey Neistat, “Inspiration vs. Plagiarism

The situation raises a lot of questions about the value of content on the web. On the one hand, Minutebuzz and other viral sites aren’t known for their quality journalism or their apt source-citing; however, when you take someone’s profession – one which requires thousands of dollars of equipment (he’s made a video about that) – and you rip off its creativity, it seems to strike a chord. While list articles and link bait are based off of other non-creative lists and forum entries, there is a clear sense that intellectual property – or creative property for that matter – has been stolen, contorted, repackaged and resold for profit.

I only just recently stumbled upon Neistat’s videos on YouTube in the past few months, and he has an unmistaken style. It is clear watching his videos that he records everything in his life, and afterwards chops things together to tell a story after it’s happened. The clone video has clearly been mapped to match Neistat’s real-life experiences – and, worse, Coca Cola paid Minutebuzz to do so.

Though Barbier has given credit to Neistat for “inspiration,” it’s clear that Minutebuzz is monetizing the inspiration of others, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Coca Cola double back on this situation in the next 48 hours.

Not surprisingly, it seems that Neistat has been ‘inspiring’ Minutebuzz articles for quite some time: these pieces from JanuaryMarch, & April of 2012, for example, which all embed Neistat’s videos and narrate in French the video’s plot.

One thing’s for sure: I wouldn’t want to have Casey Neistat angry at me. He has a tendancy to make his voice heard: