Coal company Xstrata threatens Mumbrella with defamation action over This Is Our Story spoof

this is the real story screengrabOne of the coal companies supporting the This is Our Story campaign to promote the Australian mining industry has threatened Mumbrella with defamation action after we reported that a pastiche video has been published.

Mumbrella reported that the ad had been created on behalf of the alternative This Is The Real Story campaign, which is backed by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

Less than two hours after publishing the story we received the following letter from XStrata Coal:   

I refer to the video titled “Ad pastiches mining industry’s ‘This is our story’ campaign” published on your website:

The video found on this link contains a parody of the piece concerning (name withheld by Mumbrella for legal reasons).

Xstrata recognises that there is legitimate scope for parody in public debate, and appreciates the importance in public life of a free and frank exchange of views. Nonetheless, we take exception to the piece concerning (name withheld by Mumbrella) because it makes a number of suggestions concerning (name withheld) that are unfair and defamatory. In particular:

(allegation withheld by Mumbrella for legal reasons);

(allegation withheld by Mumbrella for legal reasons);

(allegation withheld by Mumbrella for legal reasons);

(allegation withheld by Mumbrella for legal reasons);

These examples are by way of illustration only.

Xstrata is happy to accept robust criticism. But we are not content to allow a valued employee to be defamed in so unfair and personal a fashion. We therefore require that the video found in the above link (and on any other website hosted by Mumbrella or YouTube) be removed immediately and remind you that all persons involved in the publication of defamatory material are equally liable for defamation. We also observe that the reproduction of the whole of the video taken from appears to constitute a breach of copyright. We request your immediate confirmation that the videos will be removed from Mumbrella and YouTube and we expect that it will be taken down forthwith.

We do not wish to escalate this to a legal dispute, but you should not underestimate our willingness to do so if your website continues to defame our employee.

Yours sincerely

Tom Cregan

Legal Counsel

Xstrata Coal

Mumbrella editor Tim Burrowes responded:

Hi Mr Cregan,

Thank you for your email.

Your note suggests you may misunderstand who has published the video to which you refer. Your demand that the video is removed from YouTube is aimed at the wrong organisation.

We were not responsible for uploading the video and have no connection to the YouTube channel “pourouge12” where it has been uploaded.

In common with several people on social media including Twitter, we were reporting on the video’s existence on YouTube where it appears to have been for the last five days, having already accumulated more than 8,000 views. We have simply made use of of the ability provided by YouTube to embed its content on other sites.

None of the allegations of which you complain appear in Mumbrella’s news story.

However, because I do not wish to become a test case over who is responsible for embedded YouTube content I have now removed the embedded version of the video and replaced it with a link.

I will also be shortly publishing a news story about our correspondence.

Best wishes for the weekend,

Tim Burrowes



  1. Noni
    20 Apr 12
    3:37 pm

  2. Glass jaw much?

  3. Ben May
    20 Apr 12
    3:38 pm

  4. Wow, xstrata don’t seem to get it. Quite a good lol for a Friday afternoon!

  5. Penny
    20 Apr 12
    3:46 pm

  6. glass jaw indeed! So disappointing a company would look to threaten a news/industry organisation that publishes a parody of them (not even MAKES a parody of them, but just publishes someone else’s!).

    thanks Mumbrella for not toally bowing to the pressure and keeping the clip as a link. I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise.

  7. Andrew Bolt & Gina Rinehart's Love Child
    20 Apr 12
    4:00 pm

  8. Mums really unhappy that the Xstrata legal team now appear to be shilling for Greenpeace by raising the profile of this topic.

    But then again mum doesn’t use the internet. Those “cookie” things freak the shit out of her.

  9. Shabbadu
    20 Apr 12
    4:07 pm

  10. Hank
    20 Apr 12
    4:38 pm

  11. I can’t think of a course of action more inclined to boost the number of views of this video to well above 8000. Well done Xstrata, excellent promotion of the video you don’t want anyone to see.

  12. haha-nielson
    20 Apr 12
    4:39 pm

  13. well done Mumbrell, hope this can generate more hit on the VIDEO

  14. Beau
    20 Apr 12
    4:51 pm

  15. Well! I will not be buying my coal from them in the future!

  16. dave segal
    20 Apr 12
    5:54 pm

  17. Superb example of the Streisand effect*.. !

    * in case Xstrata Coal haven’t heard of that :

  18. ajduffs
    20 Apr 12
    5:59 pm

  19. It’s a bizarre claim. Looks like a failed attempt at intimidation to chill debate, with the real impact being the exact opposite.

  20. Nigella
    20 Apr 12
    6:07 pm

  21. Screw X-Strata – its a parody and like they give a damn about their employee featured in the ad. The day they no longer need him they’ll give him the flick as all companies do.

    I’m sick of mining companies thinking they represent Australia.. We elected politicians to represent us – not these goddam huge mining companies.

    They should make the mining tax larger

  22. Cognitively dissonant
    20 Apr 12
    6:08 pm

  23. See,

    now I just want to watch the video that I saw the story for earlier in the day and thought ‘meh’.

    When I find out that the letter was just a bit of anti-coal astro turfing to boost their views I’ll probably have to nominate it for a pencil or a lion or a crown.

    Does advertising do crowns?

    Wouldn’t it be great if advertising did swords and you won the right to wear a sword on your belt?

    Yes, hipster creatives, a belt for your slack-arse jeans. Imagine walking into a pitch with a sword on – talk about impressive. Hi client *swashbuckling movement* I’m a knight of creativity: bow before my magnificence and while you’re there sign this expense account so I can go and play skeet ball.

    Advertising should do crowns AND swords.

    Who’s with me?

    If the moderator of this comment thread had any gumption (that’s right, I said gumption) he or she would follow up my comment with an immediate “we should totally do swords” comment.

    It’s been a long day and Dyson Vacuum Cleaners making difficult places easier to clean is not as much fun as Google + letting you share the right information with the right people. Sorry for the ramble but all the AWARDies will get what I mean.

    And totes do the swords thing.

  24. AdGrunt
    20 Apr 12
    6:50 pm

  25. That’s plain dumb.

    *** Paging JB. Now is your time to shine! ***

  26. Jack b
    20 Apr 12
    7:11 pm

  27. Barbara Streisand effect anyone?

  28. Jack b
    20 Apr 12
    7:12 pm

  29. Wow totally missed previous comment, will slink away into shadows….

  30. Coalpoweredlaughs
    20 Apr 12
    7:18 pm

  31. Pity, that was the only mining ad I’ve managed to sit all the way through without throwing something at the screen.

  32. anon
    20 Apr 12
    10:15 pm

  33. Let’s wait to see the barbra streisand effect in action – love it!

  34. jean cave
    20 Apr 12
    11:33 pm

  35. Slighly off-piste . . but Xstrata is a brilliant name . . isn’t it?

  36. Groucho
    21 Apr 12
    9:08 am

  37. If the lawyer is so stupid he thinks Mumbrella can remove the video from You Tube then he’s not much of a threat. That Xstrata employ him says more about them than the video anyway.

  38. Morry
    21 Apr 12
    10:02 am

  39. Tim Burrowes…you’re my hero.

  40. Alan
    21 Apr 12
    12:13 pm

  41. Publisher gets letter from lawyer. Just another day for a publisher then. Hardly news worthy is it?

  42. Shabbadu
    21 Apr 12
    1:17 pm

  43. @Morry – It is a rather wonderful name for an investigative journalist, isn’t it? Other suitable career choices could have been proctologist, excavator or rabbit.

  44. Moley mole mole mole
    21 Apr 12
    1:40 pm

  45. As in Ex-strata aka lock the gates campaign?

  46. Trevor
    21 Apr 12
    4:43 pm

  47. Trouble with this is these guys would happily spend $100k on a court case. My guess is $100k would close most small publishers. It’s corporate bullying of the worst kind.

  48. Craig
    21 Apr 12
    6:35 pm

  49. Thank you to Xstrata’s lawyers for bringing this to my attention, and thereby to the attention of my 4,700 Twitter followers, their 1.9 million followers and their 64 million followers.

    Your support for parody on the Internet is noted.

  50. moderator
    21 Apr 12
    8:57 pm

  51. We should totally do swords.

  52. Slack arsed jean wearer
    21 Apr 12
    9:59 pm

  53. I’m all for swashbuckling and swords.

    I’d go a step further. Creatives should have medals for the ‘campaigns’ they do. Strategy, penetration, campaigns, officers, offensives… It’s all very military. Why stop there tho?

    Let’s them march down George st for the wives they lost, the kids they hardly know and the weekends they sacrificed. And honour them with the blog post, the trumpet call for the digital age. While they’re on night watch valiantly fighting for creativity in a world of accountants, it will make them feel that something they did was worthwhile.

    Because nothing is more noble than the creative, who literally sacrifices his life for the mediocrity of the impossible to please.

  54. Slack arsed jean wearer
    21 Apr 12
    10:00 pm

  55. And like Beau, I won’t be buying coal from them either :)

  56. Cognitively DIssonant
    22 Apr 12
    1:42 pm

  57. See, that’s why I’m clearly just at AWARD school level.

    Only a true creative would drill down into the idea far enough to come up with an ANZAC march for creatives. Equating sitting in an office being told “no” with being shot at by Turkish machine guns. Genius. No wonder you don’t need a belt for your pants.

    Maybe we should have an Easter for creatives as well. “For the ECD so loved the Idea that he sacrificed his only junior creative team.” All the suits could hand out chocolate iPads.

  58. Slack arsed jean wearer
    22 Apr 12
    9:10 pm

  59. Most of us are too busy for a 4 day celebration. Better to make it a single day, probably Christmas day as we’re expected to work on ‘debriefs’ (or work hard to make our work worse) every other day of the year.

  60. willemrt
    22 Apr 12
    9:20 pm

  61. I really dont understand why coal companies need to protect their images? I mean.. really. It’s not like they will ever be clean in the eyes of the rabid greenies, and the people who buy it don’t really have an option to go to another fuel.

    They should take a leaf from the American Express book of public relations: keep quiet unless absolutely necessary.

  62. jean cave
    22 Apr 12
    11:18 pm

  63. I don’t think individuals as such buy raw coal anymore do they?. Mostly I think China uses it in their power stations. However Tony Simms will be pleased to know I am burning some of it’s by-products to keep warm in Cornwall.

  64. AJ
    23 Apr 12
    1:49 pm

  65. I think when your original ad does nothing except say “See we do actually employ REAL people and this is one of them…” then you open yourself up to parody – which i think remains the highest art form in the history of space and time.

    Well done Manufacturers, Charles Firth, Mumbrella and everyone else who supports a laugh at people with lots of money.

  66. Richard
    23 Apr 12
    3:23 pm

  67. Love a good legal letter of intimidation. What a load of garbage. Mumbrella, on the face of it, you are well within your rights on this one. Go for it.

  68. beezlebub
    23 Apr 12
    4:21 pm

  69. what newbies might like to reference as the Streisand effect has been PR 101 for the last century – ie never sue or threaten to sue or send nasty legal letters to media outlets because they will invariably backfire and be used against you by that media outlet and others because
    a) seeking to prevent the publication of criticism prima facie proves its truth
    b) the cover-up is newsworthy in and of itself
    c) you offend all journalist’s belief that they aren’t accountable to anyone

  70. Mine Field
    23 Apr 12
    4:56 pm

  71. The parody is approaching 25k views now…

  72. Kate
    23 Apr 12
    5:48 pm

  73. Ha! Great parody, but what’s the point. How much coal was used to make that parody video, just as much as the original video I’d wager. The sad thing is we all need coal to live the comfortable lives we live..

  74. Anon
    23 Apr 12
    6:19 pm

  75. You’re a LEGEND Tim!

  76. Dean Collins
    23 Apr 12
    8:37 pm

  77. lol just watched the video that Xstrata didnt want me to see…….its not even accurate about the situation, why would you care.

    Sheep who are influenced by this video arent worth trying to convince that mining does a lot for Australia so whats the point of trying to close down an entirely legal parody?

  78. Mine Field
    23 Apr 12
    10:13 pm

  79. @Kate. Do you have an alliance with X Strata?

  80. Palma
    24 Apr 12
    8:33 am

  81. Score another one for their Corporate Affairs GM. Met her at one of their ‘community functions’ and let’s say Mumbrella making mention of the parody is the least of Xstrata’s concerns right now. Such heavy-handed nonsensical tactics without any consideration of how our industry or the community may respond? What a shock. Well done Tim.

  82. JG
    24 Apr 12
    7:43 pm

  83. Strategically stupid move.

    They should stick to something that they are good at – like tax avoidance. Failing that, try mining coal.

  84. stu
    27 Apr 12
    10:41 am

  85. That would be a SLAPP in the face.

  86. Devil's advocaat
    8 May 12
    3:20 pm

  87. Although it does appear that Xstrata won here?

    Video is down.