Trent Reznor To German Fans: Nein, Inch, Nein!

Brian Raftery | March 21, 2007 6:13 am

Remember that crazy Nine Inch Nails viral-marketing scheme, in which Trent Reznor’s minions supposedly left MP3-loaded flash drives in bathroom stalls, and for which Reznor created a weird apocalytpic online game? Well, the campaign backfired for at least one German blogger, according to P2P Blog:

Christoph Boecken wanted to take part in the game as well. He didn’t want to get accused of spreading unauthorized MP3s though, which is why he posted a Flash player on his blog that allowed streaming, but not downloading one of the songs.

A few days later Boecken received a letter from a well-known German law firm that handles piracy cases for NIN’s label Universal Music, accusing him of copyright infringement. The letter didn’t only demand him taking down the MP3 file in question, but also paying 500 Euro (about 675 USD) to cover the expenses for sending this letter. Invoices like this are regularly part of cease and desist letters in Germany.:

Boecken felt betrayed by Universal. After all, he had helped them with their marketing – and now he was supposed to pay for his efforts? He wrote a couple of frustrated rants on his blog, but eventually decided to pay the money because hiring a lawyer and dragging out the case could have been much more expensive.

By last week a growing number of German bloggers became aware of his case. They started spreading the word, writing emails to Universal and calling up the label in person. Finally they must have gotten through to someone who realized that lawyers aren’t supposed to be part of your marketing. Universal Germany got in touch with Boecken over the weekend. They apologized to him, promised to pay back his expenses and give him a chance to meet the Nine Inch Nails backstage.

The lesson learned: You should really use your better judgment when it comes to posting songs–but even when you do, the labels will come after you, and you’ll need a German letter-writing campaign and a lawyer to get them off your back. But then you’ll get reimbursed, and you’ll get to meet the band. Yay music industry!

When viral marketing goes awry [P2P Blog]