Apparently it was shut down yesterday for a short period after leaking those Iron Man photos (and some footage of the shoot):
You may have noticed that, about an hour ago, prominent movie website IESB.net came back to life after being down for an extended period of time. Here’s what happened in a nutshell: After IESB posted some spy video and images of Iron Monger on the set of Iron Man, Paramount Pictures went ballistic and sent a legal letter to the IESB host demanding the site be shut down for copyright infrigement.
That much was pretty much common knowledge, but I got a more detailed account today from IESB’s Stephanie Sanchez. “We were not notified in any way, or asked to take it down,” Stephanie says. “We were literally in the middle of posting a story and all of a sudden our server was gone. We called our hosting company, they transferred us to legal and we were forwarded the letter that was sent from Paramount on Friday that demanded the shut down. Note, this is a letter we were never sent and weren’t given any warning about.”
Stephanie continues: “Here’s the kicker. The video and pictures that were in question were in no way property of Paramount. Both were shot from a parking lot of a 24 hour fitness center across the street from the Iron Man shoot that was taking place on a public street in Long Beach, CA. There was no violation of copyright whatsoever. After hours on the phone yesterday with Paramount reps (who had no clue about it) they completely apologized and said this should have never happened. It was the idiots in the Paramount legal department who did this.”
If true, it would appear to be a huge PR blunder. Don’t the legal guys get the idea that leaks like this help build buzz for the film? As I write, the most popular story on Digg in the last 24 hours was the hi-res shots of the Iron Man suit. But now, the story of the IESB shutdown is rapidly gaining momentum on the same site.
Legal tactics like this just make large companies look meanspirited and out of touch. To make matters even worse for Paramount, this follows the episode in which The Movie Blog was wrapped around the legal knuckles for posting images from the new Transformers movie.
It is true that bad buzz can be created from leaks and it is reasonable that a studio wants to control who sees what from productions they have invested a lot of money in. But surely by doing this, aren’t they just alienating the target audience for these films?