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Wings over Sealand

Exciting Benchmark Reviews update #2

Posted on July 22, 2010 by RevStu

Ooh, this gets better and better. Viewers who've been following the thrilling story as it develops will recall the eerie similarity between the content of the Benchmarks Review feature on the Herman Miller Embody chair, and the advertising blurb for it on the site of retailer Smart Furniture.

We were a little curious about this, bearing in mind site owner Olin Coles' strident assertion that, apart from the belatedly-acknowledged passages copied from Herman Miller's press release, "the remaining 99.9% of the article is a fully independent review of a self-purchased product."

(Actually it's the remaining 93.6%, but let's not quibble.)

So inestimable Friend Of WoSblog John X dropped Smart Furniture a line.

"Hello. I am trying to find the source material for your information for the Embody Chair [link]. I presume it is based on a press release, and was hoping to get hold of the original document. Many thanks, John X."

A few hours later, Smart Furniture replied:

"Hello John,

Thank you for your interest in Smart Furniture and the copy on our Embody page! We did a great job, we agree. All the content was developed in house and there is no document to share. Best of luck to you.

Regards, Melanie

Melanie Silva | Designer | Smart Furniture
430 Market Street | Chattanooga, TN | 37402"


Let's just read that again. "All the content was developed in house and there is no document to share". In other words, one of two things has happened:

1. Smart Furniture has just told us a big fat lie. That seems doubtful, since they're a retailer making no pretence at anything other than trying to tell us stuff, so they'd have no reason to be ashamed of just printing the press release. (And it doesn't seem very likely that they'd have swiped the copy from Benchmark Reviews, since they do create extensive amounts of "editorial" content for themselves, for example here.)

2. Benchmark Reviews has just lifted Smart Furniture's copy and claimed it as their own. (Of course, if Smart Furniture IS lying and it IS a press release, that still means Benchmark Reviews has just printed a press release and called it "a fully independent review of a self-purchased product". In other words, they're lying either way.)

Option 2 is plainly very much the more plausible of the two. EXCEPT! It surely can't be right, because Benchmark Reviews HATES the idea of copyright infringement. Conveniently, we know this because barely a week ago Benchmark Reviews threw a bit of a legal hissy fit at for allegedly copying images belonging to Benchmark Reviews without permission.

What could possibly be going on? How could a company that's so clearly committed to the concept of intellectual property accidentally "borrow" 4,000 words of someone else's work and explicitly claim it as its own? What will happen next? WoSblog is on the case, viewers. Stay tuned!

4 to “Exciting Benchmark Reviews update #2”

  1. Mr Ak says:

    Well, there is an option 3 – that it's a miscommunication between John X and Smart Furniture. For example, it could be that whoever was following up the email didn't click the hyperlink and presumed he was talking about some in-house material they have up themselves somewhere else.

    I'm not saying I think that the most likely explanation, but it is a possibility.

  2. RevStu says:

    I'm sure someone will set the record straight if so. Smart Furniture have been sent a follow-up email, so we'll see.

  3. Amiga500 says:

    So you’ve just spend a bunch of time to write a story about someones review of a chair? It seems silly to me that you would complain that they changed the story to show where the words came from. Isn’t that called a correction? It also looks like you missed the sources he listed at the bottom of the page.

    What if Benchmark Review worked with the company and was allowed to use a clip from their website? Be careful because if you’re wrong it will give them credit.

  4. RevStu says:

    If that's the case then when someone asks you simply say so, rather than denying that it ever happened at all, trying incompetently to cover it up and delete all the evidence, then ranting and raving and publishing people's personal information.

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