I didn’t go to the MG blog often, and I hadn’t been there for a few years, so I don’t think I’d count as a fan. I’m only interested in Guerlain’s history as it is useful to me, to be honest (at least beyond the basics). However, I’d like to provide my point of view here, since this has brought out strong emotions in the online fragrance community. Many were upset that MG’s blog just “disappeared” without warning, of course, and there was discussion about this on Basenotes.net and at least a couple of blogs I sometimes read. However, one blogger had a different view:
They act like someone died. All he has to do is change the name of his blog and upload his content to an alternate domain. Should take all of five minutes if he has it coded right. I can’t for the life of me understand what the big deal is.
Now while I agree that it seems like it would be easy to create a new blog with a different name if all the information had been “backed up, ” we don’t know for sure this is the case, so this blogger is being as presumptuous as anyone “on the other side” of the issue! But to me the key question is, where does the fault lie? I would not call any blog of mine Monsieur Guerlain, Mister Mugler, or anything of that sort. I might call it The Man Who Loves All Things Guerlain, for example, but I’d probably use one of those trademark or copyright symbols to make sure there was no possibility of “infringement” (I’d consult a lawyer if I couldn’t find the relevant statute). And if I were MG I would not have called the blog Monsieur Guerlain because I would want to make it clear that I was not affiliated with any company that sold Guerlain products, but on the other hand that name makes sense for a “true fan” of Guerlain fragrances.
However, this issue seems to be a legal one, and an explanation (or attempt at one) of the details can be found here:
There you will find these statements:
…someone — I assume from LVMH — either didn’t care that he had fixed the problem or didn’t wait to give him the chance to fix it. They just went ahead and pulled the trigger on the notice.
…the fact that mere links to another site might not be a copyright infringement in and of themselves. The law is apparently unsettled with regard to this issue…
…no-one had issued an injunction against Monsieur Guerlain to stop posting infringing material and, even if they had, he did not subsequently try to get around that injunction by removing the text and inserting a link to that same information elsewhere. None of that applies here. He had a link, he removed that link, end of story…
Hard as it is to believe, it really does seem to have been a mere link issue that triggered the LVMH action after almost 10 years of ignoring his use of the brand name, of not demanding a change to the website, and not demanding removal of copyrighted photos. Honestly, I thought it was all ludicrous to begin with given the timeline and the totality of the circumstances, but the link issue seemed completely insane to me at first. They jeopardized a PR goldmine and a 10-year relationship with a fan site over a mere link?
…my guess is that this [a link to a site that contended that Guerlain decided to release ‘old juice’ in a new botlte with a new name and much higher prices] must be the information that LVMH appears to have wanted squashed. A mere link to this — and solely the link as opposed to use of the “Guerlain” brand name — had to be the “copyright violation” at the heart of everything, because what else could possibly explain the course of events?
But I think the key point of this author’s post is to be found here:
It can be the start of a slippery slope when a $34-billion behemoth owned by the 13th richest man in the world uses its might to manipulate grey areas of the law in order to suppress information it wants hidden. I can understand a company’s desire to control its image and to limit less salubrious details, but the wholesale suppression of information or any discussion thereof is authoritarian, in my opinion. Unfortunately, LVMH has sunk so low in my estimation that I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the start of a new trend. Not against cheap knock-off bags in China or counterfeit Moët Chandon in Italy (all fully justified actions), but against online criticism of their products by mere mortals.
The author then quoted the corporate response, which seems to confirm the claims made on the “offending” site (which turned out to be Parfumo.net – they subsequently removed the “objectionable” content).
On the other hand, if “corporations are people, my friend,” as a Presidential candidate said not long ago, why shouldn’t we expect at least some of them to be creeps, psychopaths, etc.? Seriously, corporations can act as individuals in many ways but get some important legal protections individuals do not possess! And then there is the “conservative” push to “privatize” just about everything, which suggests they didn’t read about that “Robber Baron” period in US history or did and decided that it was some sort of “Golden Age” (which it presumably was for several people). Of course, boycotting Guerlain scents or even getting very upset by this may be counter-productive, but discussing this in the context of what one might call corporate bullying seems to be worthwhile. Those who criticize the critics apparently have their own agendas (in this case, the blogger in question seems to have an “axe to grind” with the Basenotes site in particular), but for me such incidents need to focus on the larger issue, which in this instance is obviously related to corporate bullying tactics (IMO). Whether or not a few BN members “over-react,” bringing it up as a key issue appears to be an attempt to deflect attention from this – any time there are hundreds or thousands of readers there will be some comments that suggest over-reaction, and if corporations become more powerful (as the current Supreme Court seems to think is just fine and dandy) those over-reactions may appear to have been understatements by future generations!
NOTE: Coincidentally, only a few minutes after completing the above I learned of the death of Justice Scalia.
UPDATE: The blogger I cited in the first quotation in this blog post updated his post on this incident – here is what I consider to be the relevant statement:
…don’t blame LVMH either, if you for one second stop to think that maybe a parent company will be impartial to “fans,” and very partial to customers, the people who put the big coin in their coffers. These are the majority of perfume buyers, not basenotes members. Blame the social media platform, i.e. whatever internet service provider was responsible for hosting Monsieur G’s material. They’re the ones who responded to requests from LVMH by pulling the plug on the blog. They made the decision. And guess what? It was their decision to make.
Arguments that ignore this fact and delve pointlessly into questions of “corporate bullying tactics” are total deviations from the reality of this matter…
UPDATE #2: Apparently the above really struck a nerve on the blog in question, as he quickly wrote up a new post entitled, “Why People Like Bigsly and Basenotes Just Don’t Get It: The Pattern Is Clear.” I can’t say I understand what is being said, other than that he talks about “straw man” arguments and half-truths and then used just such tactics in that post! I’ll let you read it and decide for yourself, but one point I will make is that I have been constantly telling people that with many vintage scents they can usually get bottles for excellent prices on ebay if they have some patience (though don’t expect this to happen with a few, such as Patou Pour Homme). So how can this blogger claim that I think Nicole Miller for Men is worth $100? This is precisely the kind of scent I would strongly suggest having patience with (as the vintage bottles look the same – you have t ask the seller what’s on the label). Also, the newest formulation wasn’t bad anyway (just a bit weaker and less dimensional). I guess it is wonderful to live in a mental universe where you make up your own “facts” as you go riding merrily along!
UPDATE # 3: The MG blog is back up, and if the kafkaesquebog claim that it was taken down due to a link to another fragrance site was accurate, it would seem the collective pressure brought to bear was the reason for this reversal. One blogger had an entirely different (and to me, incomprehensible – three different sites/companies just happened to decide to take down the pages of the same person at the exact same time?) explanation:
It appears Monsieur Guerlain is back in business! What does this mean? Anyone who bought into the “evil corporate empire” narrative missed that this was clearly not a case of free speech being “suppressed,” but rather a basic issue of content legality being put under scrutiny by the vested interests (the hosting site) behind Mr. G. To everyone who gnashed their teeth and created straw man arguments about his “platform for free speech” being unjustly removed, your silly cause has just withered in the face of reality.
Now that is really silly to me, as it comes across as someone who will say anything to be “right,” even if it makes no sense whatsoever. And if the cause of free speech has withered away, the thoughtful among us should gnash our teeth !