It seems that Gawker is using guerrilla marketing tactics to spread their site name, by covertly using YouTube videos interlaced with advertisements, posted near-anonymously. A user by the name of “Belowtheradar” has posted around 60 separate videos to YouTube, many of which also surfaced on Gawker. Randomly, these videos will include an ad for a Gawker product. While remaining tight lipped, they did confirm that it isn't a coincidence:
On Thursday, the poster did not return an e-mail from CNET News.com, and representatives from Gawker, including owner Nick Denton, did not immediately return e-mails and phone calls. But on Friday morning, after this story appeared, Denton did confirm that Belowtheradar is associated with Gawker.
"He's our video guy," Denton wrote in a terse e-mail.
Is it ethical? Probably not. On a more direct note, much of the content is copyrighted – and some companies are taking action:
"I can tell you emphatically that this video was used without our authorization," said Audrey Pass, spokesperson for WNYW Channel 5, the Fox affiliate in New York. A clip from a Fox 5 news report was among those posted by Belowtheradar in December. "We have plans to pursue this matter further."
Citing that Gawker's supposed use of these videos goes beyond “fair use”, they potentially face copyright infringement. While it's one thing for a home user to post TV episodes, it's another thing for a company to rip off another companys work.