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Rob
12-22-04, 08:43 PM
Automotive Media Embargoes – Fact or Farce?

http://corvetteactioncenter.com/images/columns/wheelspin/wheelspin2.gif“A government order imposing a trade barrier…ban the publication of (documents), as for security or copyright reasons; "embargoed publications"…prevent commerce…”

That is the definition of “embargo” as found in the Merriam Webster Dictionary.

All automotive manufacturers “embargo” documents and pictures of future products in order to prevent the competition from learning what’s to come and get a head start on building a future product that has an upper-hand.

As stated in a recent issue of AutoWeek magazine:


The term embargo refers to a date, set by the manufacturer, before which journalists agree not to disseminate information. An embargo is one reason magazine and newspaper readers may notice the same car(s) receiving coverage in various outlets simultaneously. From the manufacturers’ standpoint, the practice allows them to coordinate media coverage with promotional and advertising campaigns; the media get information in advance to prepare more thorough and entertaining stories.Recently, someone found an entire article and several pictures of the 2006 Z06 on Corvette Magazine’s web site including a cover shot of the future March issue. Everything that we have heard here indicated that GM set an embargo of January 10, 2005 on ALL 2006 Z06 related material. So how then does a magazine like Corvette Magazine get away with releasing this information on their web site prior to the embargo? That’s what we would like to know. (http://corvetteactioncenter.com/forums/showthread.php?t=60546)

A few weeks ago, a small privately owned web site published photographs on their web site of what appeared to be a 2006 Z06 taken from GM press materials. Last time we checked, those photos were still up on that web site’s server.

About four to five weeks ago, a member of several other Corvette web sites supposedly received a visit from authorities hired by GM because he published embargoed photos of the Z06 on a web site and they wanted to know how he acquired them. As stated in a recent AutoWeek article:



That is exactly what Houston-based software consultant Paul K. (he asks that his full name not be used) thought to himself when, in his words, he stumbled across a short list of mechanical details and a reasonably clear photograph of the new Z06 on a website for Corvette enthusiasts (it’s the one we based our illustration on). Approximately 24 hours after Mr. K.’s original post (he claims not to remember where he first discovered the pic), General Motors contacted several website administrators to demand removal of its “property” from their cyberspace. Mr. K. had, it appeared, unearthed the real deal. “You get this e-mail from GM saying take it down, it’s our picture, right there... it’s real. Done.”

GM, however, considered the matter far from over. On a Sunday evening five days after his original web posting, Mr. K. says he answered a knock on his door to discover two unfamiliar men standing outside his Texas home. The duo identified themselves as representatives of GM and its contracted security firm, Securitas Security Services, and according to Mr. K., demanded to know how he had come by GM’s copyrighted Z06 photo. His claim of part of the conversation: “[One of them] said, ‘GM has millions of dollars at its disposal, and we will not be afraid to use it to prove a point.’” Our call to Nick T. Chiros, one of the Securitas investigators, yielded a terse “No comment.”The same photo that he supposedly published was also published on a few Chevrolet dealership web sites as well as the web site of a well known aftermarket Corvette parts manufacturer.

As stated in the same AutoWeek article:


“As evidenced by our actions, we take our embargoes very seriously,” said Terry Rhadigan, GM’s director of global auto shows and the man responsible for pre-Z06 launch information. “So when we have a rogue kind of website or someone who doesn’t play by the rules, we feel like if we just let it go and we just let them run amok, then our credibility is compromised.”This last quote prompts me to ask: “Then why were a few Chevrolet dealerships allowed to keep the images on their web sites, as well as the aftermarket Corvette parts manufacturer, and such a big deal was made over this one gentleman in Houston, Texas?” It’s not like these web sites were unknown to GM. Links to them have been plastered all over Corvette forum web sites for a couple months now and the Chevrolet dealerships are top Corvette sellers.

As evidenced by the release of the 2006 Z06 article on Corvette Magazine’s web site this morning, one of two points can be made:

GM does not, in fact, take their embargoes as seriously as they claim, or,
GM needs to do something about tightening their grip on who receives embargoed documents and how those documents are handled either physically or electronically.
This situation of GM’s embargoes and enforcing them here has become frustrating. As I’ve stated many times here in the past, the Corvette Action Center has always worked very hard to enforce GM’s embargoes and NOT allow the release or posting of embargoed photos or documents anywhere on this site.

However, each and every time, other Corvette web sites get their hands on the information early and post it on their web site with little to no repercussions from GM.

Is there still a January 10, 2005 GM embargo on all 2006 Z06 related materials? Why was the picture of the 2006 Z06, released a month ago, allowed to stay on Chevrolet dealership web sites? Why were the photos released a couple weeks ago on that small, private web site, allowed to stay? Nearly 12 hours later, why are the photos of the 2006 Z06 still on Corvette Magazine’s web server for everyone to access? Your guess is as a good as mine.

In this day and age, given the birth of the Internet and the world-wide web, information travel and access is instantaneous. The days of running to the library to use an Encyclopedia, or research a topic using various books, is all but over. Just about everything imaginable can be found on the web and when embargoed information is posted on a publicly accessible web site, the company trying to enforce that embargo might as well kiss that information goodbye. It takes two seconds to right-click and save electronic photos to your desktop. It takes two seconds to copy and paste an enormous chunk of text including Corvette details and specifications and post them on multiple web sites all over this globe. It takes two seconds to copy and paste all that data into an email, and send it off to one of thousands of electronic email listservs that exist all over the globe, some of which, have hundreds of subscribers. If a company releases confidential or embargoed information to just one person who is not willing to extend the enforcement of that embargo from the source, and that information is posted on the web just once, it can instantly spread across the web like bacteria replicating in an exponential growth phase. That information is reproduced and publicly accessible across the entire globe faster than you can bat an eyelash. Internet technology makes the U.S. Postal Service seem like a joke.

So where does that leave us? What is GM’s stance on all of this? I honestly, have no idea, and to say that I’m shocked and aggravated by these recent developments is a bit of an understatement.

When I started the Corvette Action Center nearly five years ago, I wanted the site to be a one-stop source for all Corvette information. I’ve worked hard to establish good working relationships with General Motors and automotive journalists in order to acquire, good, solid, reputable Corvette information that would be beneficial to owners and enthusiasts. Why? Simply because, I love the Corvette and I love Internet technology. IT and web development is what I do for a living. So if I can combine my love of Corvettes with my career, it’s a no-brainer.

Other web sites receive this information that is supposedly covered under an embargo, and they are allowed to release it and keep it publicly accessible prior to the expiration of the embargo while we are here trying to do our best to enforce an embargo that now seems to be fictitious. We lose credibility here because GM does not seem to enforce their embargoes across the board. What is the point of placing information under an embargo if you’re not going to strictly enforce it? It makes the entire concept of automotive media embargoes seem like a total joke and waste of time. It is a waste of my time, and the time of the rest of the administration here because we do our best to police the forums and prevent embargoed information from being posted, while it’s freely posted on other web sites and allowed to remain.

GM needs to do one of two things: either develop more stringent ways of releasing embargoed information and start enforcing embargoes across the board – FOR EVERYONE, or toss the entire idea of embargoes on future information out the door.

GM may state that they take their embargoes very seriously, but I think it’s safe to say, that their system of enforcing those embargoes, has failed. It does not work, and time and time again, it’s been proven NOT to work. What does GM do when one of their automotive manufacturing plants does not work? They either shut it down, or they revamp it. In this case, I suggest GM does a major revamp on how they handle their embargoes.

Given the rise of the Internet, the information published in magazines is usually always “old news” by the time subscribers receive their magazine in the mail. In almost all cases, as soon as news breaks on the Internet, it literally breaks, and immediately makes all forms of physical media/documentation outdated. In many cases, magazines now get much of their news and information off the Internet!

I propose that instead of handling embargoes the same exact way over and over again, GM should pick two to three mainstream online Corvette web sites, and use those web sites as outlets for the release of their information. DO NOT release “embargoed” information to ANYONE (including magazine companies), except those two or three web sites that have been chosen. Make the owners of those web sites sign legal documents stating that the information given is not to be released prior to a specific date and if it is, full legal action will be taken against the owners of the offending web site. Therefore, those web site owners are legally bound to do everything within their power to insure that embargoed information is NOT released anywhere on their web sites.

Right now, the whole concept of GM embargoes is nothing more than a farce because of the way they are being handled by GM. If one web site is allowed to publish embargoed information, then all web sites should be allowed to do the same. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Either abolish the entire concept of media embargoes all together, or revamp the entire system and start giving the concept of “media embargoes” some credibility.

The Corvette Action Center has always worked hard to enforce any and all GM embargos on this web site, and will continue to try and do so in the future.

67HEAVEN
12-22-04, 09:08 PM
Amen. Damned if you do.......damned if you don't. :(

tomtom72
12-22-04, 10:05 PM
Mega Ditto's on the Amen!!! Seems a shame that all the efforts of Rob and the other admins & moderators goes to waste because they choose to be honorable and do the right thing. I applaud CAC staff for being true to their handshake deals! If GM and / or other sites can't or don't have their collective acts together then it's their own fault that "sensitive" info gets out against GM's wishes! If GM itself has whored the info out the back door while telling the front door you can't print that, then pi** on GM. You guys here at CAC did the stand up thing! Okay I've finished ranting, I'll be quiet now. Except for one thing, that new ZO-6 sure looks sweeeeeet!!! Thanks Rob for the CAC!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to All :D Tom

Rob
12-22-04, 10:28 PM
As an update to this thread, the photos on Corvette Magazine's server(s) are now rendering as broken links in the thread I started in the C6 Z06 forum. That happened within the last 1/2 hour or so.

One of two things has probably occurred, either their servers are down due to the enormous amounts of traffic hitting the photos, or they have renamed, or removed the photos off their server.

Unfortunately, the damage is done. The pictures and article have been copied and pasted all over other web sites and the points I made above about information replicating across the internet like bacteria in an exponential growth phase, have been proven.

abowtieguy
12-22-04, 10:37 PM
Good editorial Rob, and thanks for the:CAC for a informative site with integrity. :beer

Doug

Rob
12-22-04, 10:40 PM
Good editorial Rob, and thanks for the:CAC for a informative site with integrity. :beer

DougThanks Doug. :)

Vinn
12-22-04, 11:10 PM
I agree 100% Rob. Not only have these embargos caused you and the admins extra hours of policing these forums for embargoed information, but it also diverts traffic from the Corvette Action Center at the same time. Us loyal members are forced to visit "other" websites if we want to have the same level of knowledge about these new products as, well, the rest of the Internet Corvette community. I commend your efforts for being nearly the last website to strictly honor all of the embargos anyway.

Looking forward to seeing this car in person,

Yoda
12-22-04, 11:32 PM
Vince,

I applaud your insight and honesty. Most of all we appreciate your kind words and support. I've been involved "censoring" photos here at the Action Center a couple of times. It is not a part of my duties that I like, BUT the Corvette Action Center follows the same principles I was raised by: Honesty, Intergrity.

I consider Rob a friend and admire his ability around a computer, but most of all I admire his Honesty and Intergrity. His computer skills have taken a key board and monitor and turned it into the Best Online Corvette Community on the internet. I take great pride in being associated with Rob and the Corvette Action Center.

As I said Vince, THANK YOU your comments and making Our Community Your Community.

When I feel like I need to wash my hands after shaking hands with someone, it just doesn't feel right ;)

Bud Dougherty

bluecoupe
12-23-04, 01:17 AM
Rob,

No matter where I find information or photos concerning the Corvette I always come here to get the honest facts. Even if you don't post the embargoed photos people here will look elsewhere to view them but return here to discuss them intelligently. This forum is a class act. It is a direct reflection of you and the good folks that moderate the forums. You may not always get "it" first but you do get it right. To me that is what counts. I have a feeling after this year of spy photos, illegal embargoed info and general prophetic speculation that GM will have no choice but to treat forums like yours with more respect and consideration. Keep up the good work. The cream always rises to the top.
<FONT color=black><?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn /><o:p></o:p></FONT></P><P style=
Frank (bluecoupe)<o:p></o:p>

Rob
12-23-04, 08:15 AM
^^^ Thanks Frank. I never really thought of it that way.

silver98
12-23-04, 12:19 PM
Rob, first of all, Thank You for all the effort you and the staff have put into this web site. But you should be aware that you attract the type of people who appreciate and relate to your sense of ethics. Please don't feel you ever need to apologize for illustrating your ideals. They are what makes you unique and beyond reproach, and I for one, am proud to be a member of your extended family. What you do and HOW you do it sets CAC apart from the others, sure, we all have vettes, but I picked this family because of the direction CAC has set, and the members who participate who carry out your direction. I can't think of any higher praise.

Thanks to all who administer this site and carry out its direction.

Joe

Tomrw
12-27-04, 07:48 PM
I think it a farce, I saw a article in the December 13, 2004 issue of Autoweek magazine. It told all about the Z06 and about some early release of information on the internet that GM was up tight about.

lov-n-life
01-02-05, 03:11 PM
Well put Frank. I'll keep it short and say, Rob, ditto Frank's response. Mike

Edit:
I tried including a quote from Frank above, but when I posted the message, it was screwed up and my entire message looked like a quote. I used the "Reply w/Quote" button. I attempted to edit the message and when the edit came up, all the spacing was messed up from the original post. Don't know what was going on with it.

Rob
01-07-05, 02:20 PM
An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about this issue:

http://corvetteactioncenter.com/forums/showthread.php?t=61339

Dakota kid
02-16-05, 11:40 PM
I just had to make a post in here, :D
and I agree with Rob too.

Rob
07-26-05, 08:18 AM
An interesting article was published recently in the Detroit Auto News regarding this subject:

http://www.detnews.com/2005/autosinsider/0507/26/A01-258139.htm

Automakers fight to cap spy cameras

GM clamps down on stealth shutterbugs after photos of new SUV turn up on Web sites.

By Ed Garsten / The Detroit News

General Motors Corp. gumshoes are out to squash the shutterbug who secretly snapped photos of the automaker's upcoming line of large SUVs.

These aren't the garden-variety spy shots taken by professionals who make their living lurking behind trees and fences, hoping to snag a few frames of soon-to-be-released cars and trucks.

The three photos that started popping up on the Internet last week show the new Chevrolet Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade in what appears to be a photo studio or warehouse, giving GM the suspicion this caper was an inside job by someone hoping to make a quick buck.

"We're still trying to understand the who, what, when, where or how," GM spokesman Jeffrey Kuhlman said. "In this case it was a private photo session, and the potential exists the person was involved in the setup or organization of this event."

The practice of capturing images of new models automakers aren't ready to show publicly has long been a cottage industry. Myriad auto enthusiast magazines, Internet sites and newspapers, including The Detroit News, pay to publish spy photos.

But GM is fighting back in cases involving some of its most important and profitable models.

In November 2003, a photographer captured an uncamouflaged shot of the much-anticipated 2005 Chevrolet Corvette. The new 'Vette soon surfaced on the Internet, crimping GM's plans to reveal it to the world at the Detroit auto show the following January.

Then last year, a GM photograph of the high-performance Corvette Z06 showed up online after it was distributed to journalists who agreed not to publish until a later date.

This time, GM hired security experts to track down the source of the leak and warned several Web site operators against publishing the photo.

But the Corvette Z06 had already digitally raced around the world, taking some of the buzz away from the car's premiere at this year's Detroit auto show.

The shots of GM's new SUVs now circulating on the Web are especially troubling to the company. The highly profitable vehicles mean so much to its financial turnaround the automaker killed a rear-wheel drive vehicle program to devote money and people to bring the new Tahoe, GMC Yukon and others to market six months sooner than originally planned.

"We don't want the competition to have any insight into the products," Kuhlman said.

In addition, GM is waiting to show the new models publicly to maintain consumer interest and sales of the current Tahoe and other large SUVs.

But in the age of the Internet and blast e-mails, a giant automaker's efforts to keep a hot model under wraps can go astray.

Automakers typically give photographs to journalists early under the agreement they won't be published until an agreed-upon date. The practice raises the risk that the photographs can leak onto the Internet, which triggers other news organizations to publish in an effort to remain competitive.

And these days, it seems, more photographers are willing to break the rules to bag their quarry.

Spy photographer Jim Dunne of Popular Mechanics magazine says he lives by a code of ethics when skulking around for his money shot, often hiding behind the fences at GM's proving grounds in Milford.

"You have to be careful not to go on private property," said Dunne, who once rented a helicopter to get a shot of a Corvette prototype.

Dunne sells his photos to other publications after Popular Mechanics gets first crack at them, but he won't sell to Web sites. "They tend to give away the secrets," he said.

Brenda Priddy, another oft-published spy photographer, says she'll sell legally obtained spy photos to Web sites.

Priddy said she received a call from a man who said he had taken the photos of the new GM SUVs and was looking to make a deal. She declined to handle the photos because she was concerned they may have been taken on GM property.

"I don't touch anything that was taken inside," Priddy said. "It's not worth my reputation with the car companies."

Priddy says the person, whose name she doesn't remember, told her he was invited by an employee into the building where the photo shoot was taking place, so he didn't feel he was trespassing. But she warned him not to distribute the pictures, apparently taken by a camera phone.

"I told him, 'I can't touch them and you shouldn't post them,' said Priddy. "You're going to have somebody knocking on your door.'"

Nevertheless, the photos soon showed up on several Web sites.

Robert Lane, publisher of the popular Web site Blueovalnews.com, said he decided to place a link on his site to another site that published the photos. The reason is simple: "Our photo galleries draw the most traffic by far," Lane said. "It's absolutely good for revenue."

The episode shows that anyone with the opportunity and a camera phone can expose a company's secrets.

Automakers are taking a harder line as technology threatens to turn their employees and visitors into potential spy photographers.

At DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group, imaging devices are strictly forbidden on company property without authorization, spokesman David Elshoff said.

"That includes, but is not limited to film, digital cameras, video cameras, PDAs, handheld computers, cell phones and/or watches with image capturing," Elshoff said.

GM enforces a strict ban on camera phones in product development and design areas.

Even spy photographers are now concerned about having their work ripped off, especially when they sell it to a Web site, Priddy said.

"I do worry a little bit because things get out of hand, especially in Korea and the countries around Russia because the photos get taken (without payment)," Priddy said.

You can reach Ed Garsten at (313) 223-3217 or egarsten@detnews.com.

Z06nut
08-27-05, 05:00 PM
Cool artical. I need to call Paul and let him know they are talking about him again. Thanks for posting it!:beer

RC45
10-09-05, 09:20 AM
Cool artical. I need to call Paul and let him know they are talking about him again. Thanks for posting it!:beer

I thought my ears were ringing... but then again I don't even like SUV's so how am I getting caught up that chaos.. ;)