Make a copy while you can

by Volker Weber

I just received a very odd call from the Lotusphere producer who asked whether I wanted to take down two videos that I taped at Lotusphere. He could not really say why I wanted to do that, or why I would even be obliged to it. But he said, he would go through the "proper channels" of IBM legal who would then ask to take them down. Since I do not expect Youtube to stand up for my rights (?), I suggest you download them while you can:


If there is a rule against photography, IBM would need to have quite a few photos pulled from Flickr and a few videos from YouTube. And then there is still other sites which will be happy to host them.

At least this gentlemen seemed to approve:

As you can see he was in a better mood on this clip than he was when he announced great financial results at the Opening General Session.

While you are there, you may find the Connections snippet from the Rhodin interview interesting as well, since I have been called by Lotus press about it a week ago.

Update: This is what happens:


I could now protest this complaint, but why should I? I have emails that prove that IBM welcomed these videos. I am going to keep them in case I hear anything else about this. In any case, I have removed everything Lotusphere related from YouTube.


It is known that Mr.Armstrong does not like to be photographed or filmed since the 70'ies. He is not very amused being interviewed either. Particularly if it is unauthorized. But it is strange that a man with his attitude is appearing more often in public in the last years ...

Cem Basman, 2007-02-21

Hhm. The whole General Opening Session is available on the IBM website. So Amstrong's apperance is well documented. Must be something else.

Stephan H. Wissel, 2007-02-21

Hmmm. Did you sign some agreement with registration that you would not photograph or videotape any portion of Lotusphere?

Rod Westwood, 2007-02-21

The 3rd video is "This video is no longer available."

Sascha Reissner, 2007-02-21

Rod, I have not signed any papers for Lotusphere at all. Sascha, I know, but this seems to be a bug. I have now deleted the video and uploaded again. Let's see how it pans out.

Volker Weber, 2007-02-21

Mr. Armstrong has a very peculiar way of dealing with his stardom and tries to put a tight grip on the way his public performances are being published.

Read "Moondust - In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth" - a pretty good book on how the last living Moon astronauts deal with their experience today.

Hanno Zulla, 2007-02-21

Admit it! NASA is at it again! Armstrong's walk on the Lotusphere stage was faked! You can tell by the shadows cast by Armstrong when he's walking across the stage....The opening general session was actually all filmed in a closed set in the Mojave desert! And now they want to cover it up!

Couldn't resist....:)

Brian Benz, 2007-02-22


Very good, very good.

Bruce Elgort, 2007-02-22

Thank you, thank you, I'm here all week, don't forget to tip your waitress....:)

Brian Benz, 2007-02-22

I've been on a great deal of A/V gigs, my friend, and celebrity speakers get substantial cash to do these shows. They take selling their reputations for mere sales meetings seriously. Every aspect of their participation is carefully controlled, and the speakers make demands not unlike your average rock star.

I assume the producer was from the production company who staged the event, and who directly hired Mr Armstrong, and is therefore directly liable for your video. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a clause in Mr Armstrong's contract that stated no video cameras in the audience. Most production folks in the past would just let this slide, and never expect a problem to surface, but you can't do that in today's YouTube environment. It's difficult to break into a meeting such as this, and announce "No photos, no video", because it really is a downer in an upbeat meeting ... so production outfits try to avoid it. It should have been handled with flyers on your seats, or something similar.

Video of celebrity speaker monologues is usually prohibited without subsequent royalty payments, scaled to number of copies distributed, etc., just like rights-managed stock photography.

"Non-celebrities" such as astronauts, coaches, tragedy survivors ... they only have one script, one schtick. You film it and distribute it, they've lost all their best lines ... and they lose their marketability. Big financial hit, and they'll fight to defend it. Armstrong may have sold the rights to IBM, but I'll bet not to use on YouTube. You're talking a huge payment for that kind of distribution.

Look, I may be way off base, and I don't want to tell you what to do. I just want to give you the reasons why they might be protesting your video. If my past experience is at all accurate, the production company's likely on the hook for your unauthorized video, and it's going to cost them dearly, one way or another, even if you take the videos down.

If he calls you again, or if he left you a callback number, use the information from this post to ask him if this is indeed the situation.

Garret P Vreeland, 2007-02-22

Garret, that is very interesting, thank you. A couple of questions though:

1. I assume the producer who called has all this information. Why doesn't he use it and tell me? This would have been very effective in convincing me to do what he wants me to do.

2. Go to this page, select your video stream format and jump to 13:10. If there is a problem with my YouTube uploads, why does this exist?

3. What do you think would have happened, if Mr. Armstrong had chosen to call (or write)?

The guy who called did not leave a number. He seemed determined to go through IBM.

Volker Weber, 2007-02-22


Is the 13:10 spot where Mike said something like "I am sure this will be on YouTube soon"?

Bruce Elgort, 2007-02-22

And if you don't want to go through the torture of streaming the video from IBM, you can view it on Google Video or download it.

Charles Robinson, 2007-02-22

Thank you, Charles. Excellent finds.

Volker Weber, 2007-02-22

I didn't "find" them, I'm responsible for them. :-)

Charles Robinson, 2007-02-22


Quite a time difference between us. Sorry for the wait.

1. You likely talked to a PA. The actual 'producer' probably handed this off to a production assistant, who's never had to request a video be removed before. If it's the producer, I think less of their professionalism. The normal method of creating a show like this, is that there is a small management structure from the production company, filled out with freelancers. I'm talking President, Vice President, Producer, a handful of Production Assistants ... and everyone else is freelance. Producers usually like to hand off the inconveniences to subordinates, and preen for their clients.

2. The video of the celebrity speaker is usually a separate line item on the contract, in addition to the appearance. The video is done by professionals, and is under direct contractual control. The celebrities desire control over how they are portrayed and distributed. It's all about image. Verbal faux pas get edited out, stumbles don't get shown. Amateur YouTube distribution will dial the panic knob to "11". You're dealing with A/V people, agents and celebrities ... and not necessarily internet-savvy. All they care about is that unvetted video's going out, and royalties haven't been paid for the use.

The number of viewers and/or downloads from the IBM site will be far fewer than from YouTube. I certainly would never have known where to find it on their page (and I tried to find it last night on, even using their search function, and failed), if you hadn't shown me. I would hope the website usage of the footage would be a separate line item, but I've heard of production companies who do it anyway, hoping to get by with the "if they notice, we'll just take it down" philosophy, to avoid more royalty payments. It's all about profit, and production companies, even though these kinds of shows run into the millions of dollars, run on thin margins. It is amazing how a million dollar budget bleeds out into band costs, celebrity bookings, equipment rentals and backups, overtime overtime overtime.

3. I may not be understanding your meaning here, but I'll answer as best I can. Celebrities are hired through agents, and it is the agent or booking company who would be doing the calling. Either the agent is calling the production company saying, "Get this down, now!", or the production company noticed it themselves, and want to get it down before the agent notices, and there's an expensive problem. You'd never get a call from Mr Armstrong. It's all a tangled mess of interwoven contractual obligations. There are, at minimum, three significant layers between you and Mr Armstrong, all determined to protect him from exposure, and to force you to comply.

The idea of "going through IBM" is probably to strongarm you through the existing management structure, saving time and effort on the Producer's part (and therefore, money). I'm not sure if you work directly for IBM or not, but this seems to be their strategy. Really stupid, because it will create an enormous amount of bad feeling. Again, this points to their being completely non-internet-savvy.

I did a little Googling. It is not his actual agent, but this outfit does book him for meetings. Read the disclaimer on this page, and then click on the 'about fees' link in the middle of the page. They give you verification of the complexity of booking these people, as I've been mentioning.

As I said, I am jumping to a lot of conclusions here, I can only relate my own experiences and apply them to what you've posted. I may be completely wrong. I simply figured you might be interested in the explanation from someone who's been backstage more than onstage.

If you know the name of the production company, send it to me in an email. If it's one of the companies I used to work with, I might still know someone there, and be able to get you more information. Orlando, right?

Garret P Vreeland, 2007-02-22

Hmmm. I spent more time writing than following your thread this morning. Given the above comments from Mr Robinson, it sounds like I'm completely wrong? Disregard my ramblings.

Garret P Vreeland, 2007-02-22

Garret, I'm not affiliated with Lotus or IBM. I asked a few people at IBM and Lotus whether they thought it was okay, but ultimately I did what I did on my own.

Charles Robinson, 2007-02-23

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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