Dear advertisers: It’s time to stop supporting BuzzFeed Video
As an internet native, a successful YouTube creator, a “millennial,” and your target demographic, I understand why you’d throw a large marketing budget into BuzzFeed’s Video initiatives. Their videos get millions of views and because of their low production value, are easy to turn around on a tight timeframe. I get it. It seems worth the investment.
But BuzzFeed has been caught repeatedly stealing ideas, jokes, bits, gags, and therefore money from prominent YouTube creators. And we’ve all had enough. It’s time to #StopBuzzThieves
See for example:
In what is a blatant rip off, BuzzFeed takes from established blog-turned-book “Will It Waffle?” The premise is straightforward.
In 2013 I created a short series called, “How Do Black People Feel About?” Where I’d answer user submitted questions on behalf of my entire race as a joke. In 2015, BuzzFeed had the same idea.
TigerTomato’s entire channel vs. BuzzFeed’s “Artists try pancake art sponsored by Holiday Inn Express”
I’m not an intellectual property lawyer, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night and I found it really shameful that any part of a marketing budget was allocated to BuzzFeed to steal an idea that TigerTomato could have improved upon for less money.
Cut.com’s “100 Years of Beauty” vs. BuzzFeed’s “100 Years of” series
These ideas are the same down tho the simplistic background choice and caption style. There’s no question of how they were inspired to create this series. There’s also no credit given.
It’s Akilah Obviously’s “How to Be an Introvert” vs. BuzzFeed’s “A Perfect Weekend for Introverts”
While content about introversion is overwhelmingly prevalent on the internet today, sketch content about it is surprisingly bare. Imagine my surprise, then, when beyond an identical thumbnail came a video shot sequence that was identical to my work.
This isn’t parody. This isn’t homage. This isn’t a coincidence. This is a deliberate initiative on BuzzFeed’s behalf to undermine the hard work of independent comedians, creators, and innovators in the online space.
Beyond the obvious cut-and-paste of BuzzFeed lies a deeper issue; they are making millions of dollars from corporations like yours who aren’t well-versed enough to know that their work is fraudulent, and they’re pumping it into their company–not even into the hands of their own creators.
Prominent black YouTuber Kat Blaque described a time when she and other LA LGBTQ creators were emailed and asked to help brainstorm ideas for BuzzFeed Video without compensation for their time and input.
“Then a few people chimed into the email chain and I couldn’t help but agree. One person asked “Are we going to be compensated for our time?” and went into depth about how often trans people work for free or very little and create these things that are profitable for cis consumption, but are never able to see compensation. This is a perpetuation of the oppression that marginalized minorities face and when you factor in Buzzfeed as an idea, it creates a situation where as a person with a voice that’s hardly heard, you feel as though you should be thankful for even having the chance. So you’re willing to work for very little or for free and who gets paid for your story at the end of the day? Cis white men. So who cares if you needed to pay rent or afford your medications for the month. Ultimately, you should be thankful for the chance and continue to work for free. When pressed on this, the trans guy in question said thatBuzzfeed “simply didn’t have the budget” for consultants. In response, a fellow trans consultant said that “being able to work for free was a privilege.”
BuzzFeed’s choice to infringe upon the intellectual property of those more innovative has negative implications for culture as a whole. We aren’t living in the golden age of television because people are good at copying video content and putting blonde hair on it and paraphrasing dialogue. TV is thriving because more and more voices are being heard. And with Facebook announcing that its algorithm will begin prioritizing the posts of family and friends over those of brands and fan pages–there’s no better time to invest your budget into individuals with talent, taste, and ability.
Young people shouldn’t have to work for cheap, or for free, or have their videos stolen for the sake of BuzzFeed’s creatively bankrupt scheme. No one should have to work for exposure. People die of exposure.
Don’t you think your millions of dollars would be better spent on original content from young creators with audiences and potential on YouTube? Do you know how much more of a return you’d get on your investment if you paid 50 top creators $20,000 instead of throwing a blind million at the untalented, underpaid staff at BuzzFeed Motion Pictures?
Suggestions for how to spend all that money you saved when you stopped supporting the predatory content thieves that comprise BuzzFeed Motion Pictures:
Worried it’ll be too hard to find qualified content creators to rep your company? Try partnering with YouTube and talent agencies for access to qualified independent creators. Going directly to creators incentivizes media giants like CAA, UTA, ICM, etc., to sign digital talent and protect them with legal teams that can review contracts and ensure that their ideas are protected and compensated. If you want our brand loyalty, you need to be loyal to us.
By continuing to support BuzzFeed video, you are complicit in the repeated, egregious theft of hundreds of millennials’ intellectual property. Consider this our collective cease and desist letter to BuzzFeed’s video department. We’re not going to cower because of the size or reach of BuzzFeed. We refuse to let their creatively bankrupt business model become the new status quo. The era of BuzzFeed thriving on the backs of uncompensated, young talent is over.