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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:

http://mumbrella.com.au/ad-pastiches-mining-industrys-this-is-our-story-campaign-86514

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 www.thisisourstory.com.au 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

 

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