Everybody's hard work is paying off! We've received word that at least one state Department of Justice investigation has begun with regards to the Home Depot $25,000 YouTube Contest. It is uncertain the outcome of such an inquiry, but it is good that Home Depot/Imre Communications will have to answer some hard questions about how they consider their contest to be run in good faith.
For those of you just catching up, Home Depot ran a contest on YouTube last December. When they announced the winner, participants and spectators alike complained that the winning video contained copyrighted material. According to their contest rules, such material would disqualify their entry. But instead of disqualifying them, Home Depot and Imre Communications allowed the winners a couple of days to re-edit their video (after the contest was over) in order to qualify. This, despite the fact that they had disqualified another video for rules violations. When people complained further, Home Depot seemed to offer no new response on their contest site, and then shut down their message boards altogether. E-mail responses from Home Depot that we are aware of seem to be of cut-and-paste variety. If you have received any correspondence from Home Depot or Imre, please let me know at the email posted in the "profile" link to the right. You can read about this and more if you scroll down (keep in mind, you'll need to click on "Older Posts" at the very bottom to see all of the entries).
If you haven't done so already, please write to your Attorney General and ask them to investigate the conduct of this contest. It only takes a couple of minutes. If you need to know who your Attorney General is and how to contact them, click here. If you need a sample letter, feel free to use the template below and customize it to suit your personal situation:
Dear (Your State’s Attorney General),
I am writing with concern regarding a skills-based online contest conducted by Home Depot last December. The contest was hosted on www.youtube.com, and the winners were to receive awards in the amount of $200 and $25,000. Official Rules were posted on YouTube, and I entered in good faith, following those rules.
Upon completion of the contest on December 15th, 2007, Home Depot, in conjunction with Imre Communications, awarded the grand prize to a video that did not meet the contest rules, as it contained prohibited copyrighted material. Instead of disqualifying the entry, they allowed the winner to re-edit their video, after the contest was over. They accepted this newly edited submission (despite the fact that the rules state that any entry submitted after the contest deadline would be disqualified). To place this in further context, Home Depot and Imre Communications disqualified a different video (the Bork family from New York) for a rules violation, but then seemed to ignore their rules with regard to the winning video.
I do not believe Home Depot and Imre Communications acted in good faith in conducting this contest. Out of concern for the fairness and integrity of their online contest, I would ask that you investigate this situation.
(Your Name Here)
2455 Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta, GA 30339
Imre Communications (Baltimore)
909 Ridgebrook Road
Baltimore, MD 21152
Imre Communications (Washington)
528 F Street Terrace SE
Washington, DC 20003
YouTube Contest Home Page
An online duplicate of the contest rules is available here, since Imre Communications removed them shortly after the contest ended.
Video proof of the copyright violations