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August 2, 2013

Light Manufacturer Rotolight Responds to the Takedown of Den Lennie's Video Review

Rotolight LogoIf you've been following along, you already know the details, but if you need a quick refresher, head on over to the previous post. Basically, Den posted a review that included a Rotolight Anova, and they were not happy with the results, and had Vimeo take it down without first consulting with him. Now Rotolight has responded to all of the criticism with their side of the story. You can read that below.

This was sent in an email (it can also be read on Rotolight's website):

Rotolight would like the opportunity to respond to the recent concerns raised that related to the circumstances surrounding, and subsequent request for the removal of a video from Vimeo.We sincerely apologise for any offence caused to Den Lennie and the F‐Stop academy, and for the resulting anxieties around freedom of speech.

Rotolight is a small, family owned and run, UK based business, with a great team of extremely hard working and passionate people, who have worked for decades in the creative industries and care greatly about creating highly innovative products for our customers. Rotolight is not a ‘corporate bully’, far from it. We are in fact one of the ‘little guys’, and have to work extra hard to compete with larger companies, to come up with exciting and imaginative new designs that push the boundaries of LED lighting technology.

Rotolight welcome and encourage independent reviews, editorial and feedback from customers on our products, and indeed go out of our way every week to provide products for test to numerous major industry publications, to which Rotolight has no affiliation. We also regularly provide loan products to leading cinematographers and DoP’s in the field for use on their projects, without any prior knowledge of their potential feedback on the product. As a result, our products have recently been used on James Bond Skyfall(http://goo.gl/UUxK7e), Tom Hanks latest movie Captain Phillips (http://goo.gl/XP1JeV), and currently by ITV’s ‘Your face sounds familiar’ as well as recently on a major BBC series and Formula 1.

In this specific case, the video was not removed for copyright infringement reasons as has been widely reported. Rotolight received external advice with respect to this particular video that it was potentially misleading and unrepresentative. This advice resulted in the only request the company has made to have a video removed from any video sharing website in the last 3 years.

It is important to understand the damage that can be caused not just to our business, but to its hard working employees and their families, and also to the numerous other SME’s in our UK supply chain, whom we make a conscious effort to source components from in order to support our local business community, which is why we felt we needed to act.

However, we accept that we could have dealt with this better and avoided the issue through clearer communications in the first instance, and we are already reviewing our process and policy on this matter to ensure it does not happen again.

Due to a simple human error, the light featured in this Video was found to have a minor anomaly in its manual software calibration process,which affected only this particular light. It was immediately rectified and returned to the customer, resolving the issue displayed in the Video. The issue here was not that we simply ‘didn’t like the results’ but that the original test video was posted to Vimeo 5 months after the issue had been rectified, without any reference to this. It was therefore felt the Video was potentially misleading and unrepresentative, although we fully accept that this was not the intention of the Video when it was uploaded.We have already posted a link to a completely independent test of a representative light alongside 20 other manufacturers lights, carried out by Wide Open Camera that can been seen here:‐ http://goo.gl/zny8hF

The colour accuracy of the Rotolight Anova was specifically analyzed by the Canadian Society of Cinematographers in an independent test where they said “Many lights, especially LED’s, produce a spiky spectrum or have large chunks of spectrum missing, but the Rotolight Anova showed a nice smooth gradation through the whole visible light spectrum, which in turn means rich, beautiful and natural colour rendition in the subjects you are shooting” (Sarah Moffat, CSC, http://goo.gl/mNZSYP)

We recognize everyone’s rightful concerns about freedom of speech, which we equally share. However, this particular case was more an issue of a breakdown in communication between the key parties, which is regrettable and for which we deeply apologize to all concerned.

As a gesture of good faith, we have offered to donate a brand new Rotolight Anova worth over £2000 to Den Lennie’s F‐Stop Academy for use by its students in their workshops, and have invited them to our Pinewood Studios Office to meet the designer and the Rotolight team.

Indeed we always try to communicate, promote, understand and welcome our end users feedback, either positive or negative ‐ It's what makes us work harder, move further and improve our products every day. That’s one of the reasons why in a recent survey over 92% of Rotolight customers said ‘they would recommend our products to a friend’. We encourage you to visit a store today, try one of our products and see it for yourself.

Last week Rotolight was proud to be honoured by the Hollywood Film Making Community as the Winner of  the prestigious CINEGEAR 2013 Technical Award  (held at Paramount Studios LA). We have also won numerous other industry awards including the CINEC Special Award for Scientific Innovation and Technical achievement, and the British Kinematographic Sound and Television Society award 2013 for a product range that has “made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the industry”.

We’d encourage you to visit Rotolight at IBC 2013 on stand (11:D69) to see the award winning lights in action and have a one‐to‐one demonstration on the latest additions to the Anova product line being announced at the show.

To see Rotolight’s products in action, you can view our showreel here:‐http://goo.gl/v2CXhm

Regardless of whether Rotolight used a DMCA takedown for the video, they still got Vimeo to take it down without first consulting with Den. It is completely understandable that they'd want a re-test if there was a physical issue with one of their lights, but there were a few other ways they could have done things that would have been much, much better for everyone involved -- including working with Den first to try to resolve the issue.

What do you guys think?

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Your Comment

45 Comments

Rotolight's lengthy statement -- plus $2 bucks -- will get you a coffee at Starbucks,

If you want to see the whole story head over to www.cheesycam.com.

These guys are scumbag liars and nothing they say should be accepted at face value. They inappropriately silenced a negative review using an ethical tool at their disposal (D.M.C.A.) AND covered their *sses afterwards.

August 2, 2013

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Joaquin

You're right, and to quote from their email we can see they're not stopping yet with their lies (seriously, they did bad before.... REALLY bad, in getting the video taken down. But there was a path to redemption: own up and apologise by admitting you did wrong then STOP DOING BAD! But nooo.... they've got to carry on with their wicked ways!):

> "Rotolight welcome and encourage independent reviews"

Yeah right.... who truly believes that now?

> " In this specific case, the video was not removed for copyright infringement reasons as has been widely reported "

What bullshit! If not copyright, what other reason did they have to *force* it offline? None of what they then waffle on to say afterwards is a reason why then can *force* it to be pulled (and not merely politely request it, as they could have tried instead).

Seems they have still completely and utterly missed the point of what they did wrong! And are now trying to whitewash it.

August 2, 2013

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They scrambled after the fire was lit under their asses by the film making community. They were heavy handed and (quite likely) legally wrong to file under the DMCA. The reputation took a huge hit. A donation of a $2K light probably won't be enough to fix it. They'll need to sponsor something or other in order to shed the shame.

August 2, 2013

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DLD

honestly, I feel like their explanation is worse: we didn't have it taken down for copyright infringement, but simply because we didn't like it?

August 2, 2013

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steve

No, it sounds like they had it taken down for defamation.

August 2, 2013

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Gabe

It isn't defamation when it is true: "Due to a simple human error, the light featured in this Video was found to have a minor anomaly in its manual software calibration process, which affected only this particular light."

I also think it is disingenuous so say: "which affected only this particular light." They don't know that.

Honestly, I think Vimeo should be held pretty responsible as well. They seem to be getting a pass here.

August 2, 2013

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steve

Sorry I can't let that fly if five months passed. If it had just happened I might buy it.

August 2, 2013

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Gabe

No, I absolutely disagree. I don't see why it matters that five months passed. The product that was acquired for the purpose of the review was the one that failed.

Say I make a line of lights that literally don't work at all. If I could get away with it just by making a working version for people who review the light AFTER THE FACT, then I'd still only have to make a single working unit per reviewer. The reviewer would have absolutely no obligation to review the new, working light, because it's NOT THE PRODUCT that they acquired for the review itself -- note also that whether the "fixed" unit arrives before or after the original review is uploaded has no bearing on the accuracy of the review, as the review never claimed to be reviewing anything but the ORIGINAL product.

Even if only a small percentage of units ship broken, then only a small percentage of reviewers will be reviewing the bad ones; silencing the reviewers who happened to get bad ones (initially or otherwise) would skew the proportion of reviews in a way that could give the illusion that a greater percentage of units work than actually do.

In short, no, the reviewer was not misrepresenting anything: they bought (or otherwise received a product), and reviewed THAT PRODUCT; whatever the company does between the time the product was tested and the review was uploaded does not retroactively change the accuracy of the review.

Could the reviewer have mentioned the new, working product as a courtesy? Absolutely. But they are not OBLIGATED to do so, and thus there are no valid legal grounds on which that review cannot be allowed to remain in place.

August 2, 2013

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cows

You can't un-ring a bell. On another note, Philip Bloom made a comment on Den's facebook thread that he didn't like the Anova either and packed them away on a shoot.

August 2, 2013

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Darren

They handled the review completely the wrong way. Den was a little precious about it too I might say..
From the videos the light sampled is obviously not working to specification, it's too far out. Even cheap auction site gear works better than the light used in the review.

The DMCA trick was sleekit, and rotolight would appear to have been less than transparent since. Various opinions seem to affirm that they methods used to censor were spurious.

Rotolight have a small potential market in global terms, and now everybody knows their name for the wrong reasons. Den Lennie is now promoted to deity status. Unfortunately the internet pantomine has cast its villians and heroes and the truth is lost somewhere in the mix. But lets be clear. The mess is really rotolights doing. Or undoing.

Lots of folk not going to buy rotolights now, who probably never were. Lots of indignance. I hope the boot in the balls has worked. I hope Den Lennie makes a buck or two more out of his training. Maybe the Gammons should give Barbara Striesand a call and lick each other wounds.

August 2, 2013

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Paul

+1
Shame on them

August 3, 2013

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CSG

What a load of bullshit.

August 2, 2013

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zachariah

Good, easier to put them out of business, which is exactly where they need to be.

August 2, 2013

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ZIM

They made a mistake with the product...tried to fix it, review for the product the person had went up, they got mad. Too bad. Don't sell faulty...expensive gear!

It's the same with games/apps when they are reviewed at 1.0, that's how it's judged, not just whenever the manufacturer (no matter how big or small) gets a return and bothers to fix it.

August 2, 2013

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KingAtRock

this isn't the same as games/apps in any way, shape or form. if your friend bought a game and gave you the disc and the disc had a scratch on it and didn't play, would you give the game a 1.0? that's what den did.

August 2, 2013

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The lights did work just not ad advertised.

August 2, 2013

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KingAtRock

I was going to buy a roto light on recommendation of Blunty3000's review. When I tried out a un used store demo unit the on/off switch broke. This unit was straight out of a sealed box, fresh batteries. I'm not a huge fan of hands on experience where it fails completely (or even a little bit) when first used, this goes for games, apps, software, main reason why I never purchased FCX, etc.

August 3, 2013

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PhinioxGlade

Actually, it not like having a friend hand you a scratched disk because that would be a used game. It's like opening up the package and the disc is scratched...or even a better analogy is: it's like buying an app and it is really, really buggy. Yeah, they might fix the bugs eventually, but does that mean the original reviews were not merited?

August 5, 2013

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Brett

if reviewers like den are going to be made into first amendment martys, then i think we've taken the first amendment as far as it can go and it's time to give it back. good job, den. your science is strong.

August 2, 2013

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It's sick and appalling that a DMCA takedown can be used like this. I will not be buying any products from such people.

I would be much less appalled by this if they had sent a nasty email or something to Den that got leaked to the public than this.

August 2, 2013

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Bry

Such BS. That statement was put together by a bunch of lawyers.

August 2, 2013

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Brian

Seems like a pretty reasonable responses from someone trying to apologize and stay in a tough business.

August 2, 2013

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Wesley Dumont

A bad effect of this news hysteria has been a unilateral presumption that online video streaming service providers have no legal obligation (and no internal policy) to respect trademarks -- no less, claims to invasion of privacy/invasion of publicity/commercial libel. In fact, they do, and they act upon, these grounds not only as a matter of law but within their own terms of service, erring on the side of caution. The D.M.C.A. is just one tool in the toolkit of managing rights, focused upon copyright law, but there are others. When we visit Vimeo or YouTube, we are just that: visitors. If they want to shut something down out of an abundance of caution, there's no First Amendment issue whatsoever. It's just house rules.

I'm sure people will keep ignoring this nuanced reality, though, to their detriment (because it's much more fun to crow about fighting the powers that be)...

August 3, 2013

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Paul

Yes let's use laws designed for copyright for supposed defamation? That makes perfect sense.

August 3, 2013

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Bry

I agree with you with Vimeo or YouTube's siding on the side of caution first, but it they don't take something down without first another party filing something with them. That's where the problem in this lies, with Rotolight.

August 5, 2013

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Brett

Rotolight is showing their true colors, and they are continuing to lie. Cheesycam has an article posted about their past experiences with Rotolight, and Den posted in the comments to respond to some of the claims in Rotolights statement.

http://cheesycam.com/rotolight-attempts-to-censor-online-review-again/

August 3, 2013

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Marc

They should take up screenwriting. Sounds like they're pretty good storytellers.

August 3, 2013

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Dennis Ray

"As a gesture of good faith, we have offered to donate a brand new Rotolight Anova worth over £2000 to Den Lennie’s F‐Stop Academy for use by its students in their workshops, and have invited them to our Pinewood Studios Office to meet the designer and the Rotolight team."

According to Den over at cheesycam they haven't been contacted with the offer of a light.

For those interested in the publicity angle, this is commonly known as the Streisand effect:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

August 3, 2013

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Chris

Different to most people here I can actually understand what they did and why. The way they handled it was bad of course.

August 3, 2013

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hansd

Oh well. You act like a tyrant and suddenly people don't like you anymore. I don't really care how small they are or how economically important the company is to the employees or suppliers. I get WHY they did it, but their actions are inexcusable. And they'll probably go out of business because of it.

August 3, 2013

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Hi folks, (and particularly Gabe)I have detailed a response over on my website and do not want to drag this farce on.

However need to clarify a statement made by Rotolight. For the record this original video was posted in March 2013 that's 5 months ago and not as Rotolight wrongly stated 5 months after the problem...

They seem to have problems getting the facts straight.

I wrote directly to Rod Gammons 2 days ago to accept his apology and offered to help them rectify any green issue from a user perspective. I suggested we draw a line in the and and move forward.

I am still to receive a response.

Also I have not been offered any light as suggested in their 'official statement'

if you wish to get the full story it's over here http://www.fstopacademy.com/blog/censorship-when-a-review-does-not-go-th...

Den

August 3, 2013

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I highly doubt Vimeo would just take down the video like because the review wasn't favorable. That's gotta be a lie. It'd be nice if Vimeo would clarify things?

August 3, 2013

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Clayton Arnall

Will never touch or rent one of their lights.

August 3, 2013

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Ed Z.

We all make mistakes, but this doesn't seem like one. I'm not sure they realized the severity of their decision, but it looks like a bunch of young and starting filmmakers already have a bad impression.

August 3, 2013

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Mark K.

Call me naive, but I'm inclined to give them a second chance.

August 3, 2013

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Tom

Rotolight is being unfairly represented in the vast majority of these comments.

The operative sentence is this one:

"The issue here was not that we simply ‘didn’t like the results’ but that the original test video was posted to Vimeo 5 months after the issue had been rectified, without any reference to this.

That is, Rotolight seems to have seen the video reviewing their hardware back when the video was first produced, noticed that their hardware had a problem, and sent the folks producing the review video a replacement (that is, a working, fair example of their hardware). This should have rectified the issue. That is, the producers were expected to edit their review video (that is, reshoot a retest) with the functioning, fair representation of Rotolight's hardware, and they didn't.

5 months later, this comes to light when the producers of the review video finally publish.

Rotolight, (to take them at their word -- which we've no reason not to, to my knowledge) looking out for the interest of their small company, by their own admission responds poorly, but insists that the video, which can be justifiably considered to misrepresent their products, be taken down. They do this by means by less than unimpeachable means, but to imagine that the fault lies solely with Rotolight and not at all with the producers who neglected to fairly represent Rotolight is unfair.

August 3, 2013

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S Slocum

The mistake you make is believing Rotolight's statement that the video was published "5 months after the issue had been rectified". Rotolights claim has since been pointed out to be untrue.

Mr Lennie says the video was posted in February '13–confirmed by vimeo upload date–two weeks after the test. Rotolight filed their 'bogus' DMCA claim in July.

I wouldn't take the word of any company that files unsubstantiated claims to protect what appears to be a poor performing product.

August 4, 2013

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Henry

It seems to me that most people who use high end production gear have immense respect for the skilled people who produce that equipment. They are always punching at the boundary of what is often cutting edge tech, and we as end users are usually forgiving about development issues and product mis-fires as long as they are honestly acknowledged and resolved. Impeaching this relationship by trying to remove the record of such mishaps from history is a huge mistake.

It is a bit like editing the support pages of your product because too many people have posted a tech question that doesn't enhance the product and turns up in too many searches. They should have posted a video that addressed the results of that test and used it to promote the way they are responsive to the customer base and understanding of their products. Win Win not Fail And SuperhugeowngoalFAIL.

August 4, 2013

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Chris K Jones

Yeah, sounds like both parties could have done a bit more, but for Rotolight to present their "apology" in such a self-serving and self-justifying way is… poor taste and poor business.

I just purchased a Westcott Skylux (yeah, got one fast) and in testing discovered a minor problem with the reflector mount (at least on mine). I contacted my vendor [superdigitalcity.com] and they put word immediately to Westcott and "bam!" I get an email saying they want to talk to me. We visit by phone next day and their take? "Your feedback was invaluable. Thanks again for your time" as they immediately work on it. No back pedaling. No excuses, just a huge thank you for MY help in finding a problem. Talk about a better way to handle it. Both the sales team at SuperDigitalCity.com and Westcott have been stellar.

And for what it's worth, I think the Skylux is a fantastic light. Nope, I'm not on the dole from either company. Just pleased with great service.

August 6, 2013

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Well, either what they are saying is true, and the reviewer should have at least mentioned in the review that the light was repaired or whatever.

But maybe they only repaired the light because they realized this unit was being reviewed in a test, so they took it back and "repaired" it with better parts.
This is a well known practice amongst some manufacturers of computer power supplies or SSD flash drives (send reviewers a better model that just looks the same)
That's why good reviews always buy a second model in a store and don't tell the manufacturer about it.

I think we would have to see more tests of the rotolight with anonymously bought units to say what it the truth here...

August 8, 2013

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Heiko

To be fully fair, test should include more than one LED fixture. No LED fixture cam match tungsten source in side by side comparison. In my opinion, test was comparing apples and oranges. We should know that there is not such thing as 3200 K from a LED source. It is just the approximation.
Only by comparing LED sources between themselves can we say that one particular manufacturer is better or worse than another.
Boris, Croatia

August 9, 2013

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Blah, blah, blah.

The company is attempting to correct a problem with one of their lights. Internet PR sucks at the best of times, and is usually handled by "external sources" who don't have a firm grasp on the speed of approval or condemnation that exists here.

They are trying to protect the years of work, the thousands or millions of dollars, sweat equity, marketing and advertising dollars spent on this single product. I doubt very much that many of you have that experience.

So a video was removed from the internet. Big deal!

The bottom line is:
If you don't like the product then don,t buy it.
Understand what it takes to bring a product to market. Many of you are trying to do just that within your own careers as film makers. If I don't like your movie, then I won't go to see it; nothing personal.

To call companies or people names is just immature and only causes bad feelings. If the product turns out to be an Edsel then it won't be around too much longer, in spite of your ramblings.

Go make movies.

Regards,

Rachel

August 10, 2013

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Rachael

To explain, when will i seek blog which usually in shape just what I would like to find out about? Actually everybody discover how to Search blog by way of area or perhaps whatsoever on tumblr?.

August 14, 2013

Uhm... what?

August 17, 2013

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My roto light push button broke the first time it was uses wasted $ 279.91 on kit pissed off .

October 28, 2013

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Ronald