- Jeffree Star Cosmetics suffered a massive loss last month when $2.5 million worth of product was stolen from the company’s warehouse.
- When fans learned that some of the stolen goods were being sold at Burlington, they quickly notified Jeffree on social media.
- Burlington said it will pull the products from stores and work with authorities as they continue to look into the robbery.
Products Appear at Burlington
Discount retailer Burlington has come under fire for selling cosmetics that were stolen from internet personality and cosmetics brand owner Jeffree Star.
Earlier this month, Jeffree revealed that $2.5 million worth of product was stolen from his warehouse in California, including nearly an entire shade of an unreleased concealer. In a video discussing the robbery, Jeffree said he was working with law enforcement to track down the culprits, who he suspects are black market makeup sellers.
Since the robbery, listings for stolen goods have popped up on social media sites like Facebook. But, fans were pretty surprised to see some of Jeffree’s products at their local Burlington, formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory.
Jeffree has joked about discount retailers being a makeup “graveyard” for some brands, so when his products appeared on Burlington’s shelves, fans reached out with questions.
Jeffree once again I hate to be a bother but I saw this on a fan group that im in and not sure if you allowed your products to sell at Burlington. I dmed you on if and I guess I’m not allowed to send pics so here you go pic.twitter.com/W6IsaULLT1— ????? ?? ?????????? (@RhyenOlivia) April 7, 2019
Jeffree responded to one user and said that the liquid lipsticks were not only stolen but also expired. “We had those in a destroy pile before they were taken,” he wrote. “My lawyer is dealing with it and finding out how and why @burlington would ever allow this.”
Soon after, Jeffree took to Snapchat to further explain that when products at his company are expired, they are placed in a destruct and destroy pile to be incinerated at a later time.
“How did Burlington allow stolen items to be sold in any of their stores?” he said.
“This ain’t Marshalls and TJ Maxx. My brand isn’t like not doing well so we got to sell some to someone else. Bitch this is stolen items and they’re actually expired and not even good to use.”
Jeffree said his team would reach out to Burlington and investigate how this happened.“I really cannot believe someone tricked some executive at Burlington to take these off of their hands, write them a check, and then sell it,” he said.
He then warned fans to avoid purchasing these products and reminded them that the only physical stores you will find his cosmetics at in the U.S. are Morphe stores.
Fans Find More
After Jeffree confirmed that the products were stolen, other social media users began telling him that they also found the products at their local stores.
found another pic.twitter.com/VEzVLBgvBC— ⭐️chloe terry⭐️ (@_chloeterryy) April 10, 2019
Holy shit, I unknowingly bought one as well. ? pic.twitter.com/YQOY4iuMv8— Taylor. (@_taylorpiper) April 9, 2019
I saw them at the Burlington in Downey as well, and I bought one ? pic.twitter.com/HhyHluG4ve— Adri ? (@ADRIIANAA_S) April 9, 2019
Some even said they found them at other retailers, like Marshalls.
I’ve seen some of your products at Marshall before too— Delaynee (@Delayne74897712) April 9, 2019
Marshalls quickly responded to one user and asked them to share the location of the store where they saw the stolen products being sold.
Thanks for reaching out. Would you please DM us with the location of the store in Michigan you are referring to?— Marshalls (@marshalls) April 9, 2019
Burlington Pulls Products
After being hit with much backlash from Jeffree and his fans, Burlington responded to Jeffree on social media saying it was “committed to selling only authentic, authorized, and legally sourced products in our store.”
“We appreciate this incident being brought to our attention and we are swiftly investigating the matter,” the company added.
“We have discontinued sales of these products and are immediately pulling remaining units from our stores. We are happy to partner with you and the authorities as you continue to look into this situation.”
Jeffree later thanked Burlington for addressing the issue.
Belle Delphine Calls Out YouTube for Double Standards After It Terminated Her Channel
- Social media creator Belle Delphine, who is known for her risqué content and viral marketing stunts, had her YouTube channel terminated Sunday “due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy on nudity or sexual content.”
- Soon after, Delphine asked YouTube why she had been banned without receiving three strikes or any previous warnings. She also found it suspicious that YouTube would do this when it allows and promotes music videos for songs like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP.”
- Fans agreed, comparing her content to other music videos on the site and calling it an example of YouTube’s uneven policy enforcement.
- Team YouTube said it would take a look into what happened, but it’s unclear if the decision will be reversed.
Belle Delphine Banned From YouTube
Social media star Belle Delphine called out YouTube on Sunday for what appear to be double standards in the enforcement of its content guidelines.
Delphine is a cosplay Instagram model known for posting risqué content. She received a lot of attention last year after telling her followers she would make Pornhub account if she earned 1 million likes on a post. When she did, she trolled everyone with videos that looked like they would be porn but weren’t actually porn.
Others may recognize Delphine as the girl who sold her bathwater to “thirsty gamer boys” online.
This time, however, Delphine isn’t catching attention for one of her unique stunts. Instead, she tweeted Sunday, “Hey @TeamYouTube why was my youtube account terminated with no warning/no strikes for ‘sexual content’ when you allow and promote songs like ‘W.A.P’? seems a lil sus.”
Her remarks came the same day that her channel, which had 1.7 million followers, was shut down. A notice on her page confirmed that the ban was “due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy on nudity or sexual content.”
YouTube typically takes this kind of action after a channel earns three strikes, but Delphine’s post suggests this decision came suddenly.
Comparisons to Music Videos
Delphine’s tweet also included a video shared by Keemstar that seemed to have been originally posted by a user named Lord Vega. That video compares Delphine’s content to popular music videos that have been allowed on the platform without issue. In fact, in some cases, those videos have been promoted by YouTube on its trending page.
At one point, that comparison edit even shows Delphine’s June parody of “Gooba” by rapper 6ix9ine, which also served as a promo to her newly launched Instagram, TikTok, and OnlyFans accounts at the time.
The comparison essentially showed Delphine dressed and dancing in similar ways that women in the “Gooba” video were. The clip also shows other music videos from rappers like Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, who are also dressed and dancing provocatively.
With this in mind, many of Delphine’s fans agreed that YouTube wasn’t equally enforcing its policies.
In response to Delphine’s tweet, Team YouTube said it would look into the situation.
“Thanks for reaching out – mind sharing your channel URL so that we can take a look?” it said. “Keep us posted!”
Thanks for reaching out – mind sharing your channel URL so that we can take a look? Keep us posted!— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) November 23, 2020
As of now, it’s unclear if YouTube is planning on reversing its decision.
Twitch Apologizes for Mishandling Copyright Crackdowns After Months of Controversy
- Twitch has been contacting hundreds of users with copyright infringement notifications since June, but its inconsistent responses have been heavily criticized by streamers.
- Before this massive influx of copyright claims, Twitch had no tool to let streamers mass-delete or even identify clips that contained copyrighted material.
- After complaints, it only implemented a tool that allows streamers to mass delete all of their old clips.
- Now, Twitch is apologizing for its lack of transparency and for not putting more nuanced tools in place that allow streamers to manage their clip archives.
Twitch Begins DMCA Strikes
Twitch apologized to its streamers on Wednesday after a months-long controversy involving its inconsistent response to copyright crackdowns on the platform.
“Creators, we hear you,” the company said in a blogpost. “Your frustration and confusion with recent music-related copyright issues is completely justified. Things can — and should — be better for creators than they have been recently.”
The situation first began in early June when several popular Twitch streamers revealed that they had received multiple copyright strikes all at once. For those streamers, it was an unexpected and fear-inducing warning, as under normal rules, three infractions would result in their account being permanently deleted by Twitch.
Many found it odd that some of the strikes were coming from clips that were years old — a fact that made it easier for long-time streamers to be hit multiple times.
Twitch streamer Leslie Fu, who goes by Fuslie and has over 500,000 followers on Twitch, received two strikes during that June crackdown: one for playing DNCE’S “Cake by the Ocean” and another for Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings.” After speaking with Twitch staff, she said they recommended that she delete all of her clips.
“On top of it being near impossible for me to delete >100,000 clips,” she said, “the creator dashboard isn’t loading any of my old clips. How am I supposed to protect myself here?”
“I’m willing to do anything to keep my channel, even if it means deleting all my clips and memories from the past years. I feel so helpless right now. I’ve built this channel up for 5 years and to potentially lose it all so fast to something like this would be devastating.”
As far as what appeared to be happening, it seemed like music companies were sending Twitch takedown notices related to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act — notices that Twitch had no choice but to respond to unless it wanted to be sued.
Like Fuslie pointed out, Twitch’s response on how to fully correct the situation wasn’t exactly transparent. Many others also asked why Twitch couldn’t just mute the parts of their clips that contained copyrighted music.
As the situation unfolded, Twitch Support tweeted that it had, in fact, received a sudden influx of DMCA takedown requests, most related to clips from 2017 to 2019.
Similar to how Fuslie characterized her interaction with Twitch staff, the support account advised streamers to remove any clips they believed might violate copyright law.
“We know many of you have large archives, and we’re working to make this easier,” the account said.
A few days later, Twitch Support said the company would begin using a program that could identify clips that might contain copyrighted music. It noted that those clips would then be deleted without penalty to streamers.
At the same time, Twitch said it was working on implementing a tool that would help streamers to be able to more easily delete all their clips at once.
October Wave of DMCA Takedowns
In October, streamers faced another wave of DMCA takedown notices, but this time, they received a much different warning. In a blanket email, Twitch told affected streamers that it had identified and deleted all flagged copyrighted clips, without issuing any strikes.
“We recognize that by deleting this content, we are not giving you the option to file a counter-notification or seek a retraction from the rights holder,” the email read. “In consideration of this, we have processed these notifications and are issuing you a one-time warning to give you the chance to learn about copyright law and the tools available to manage the content on your channel.”
Unlike earlier notices, these didn’t contain any information about what copyrighted work had been violated, who the claimant was, or how to contact them.
Jessica Blevins, FaZe Mongraal, and LIRIK were among a plethora of notable streamers who received this notice. Like LIRIK, many other popular streamers were confused by the warning and did not understand what aspect of their content had violated copyright law.
With this notice, Twitch also told streamers that they had until Oct. 23 to find and delete any possible copyrighted material. After that, it would “resume the normal processing of DMCA takedowns.”
Because of that warning, many streamers began purging clips from their channel entirely, even if they hadn’t received this email. That included Pokimane, who said she deleted more than six years of clips and memories.
“It is INSANE that @Twitch informs partners they deleted their content – and that there is more content in violation despite having NO identification system to find out what it is,” one streamer, Devin Nash, said. “Their solution to DMCA is for creators to delete their life’s work. This is pure, gross negligence.”
On Nov. 2, Clix — a Fortnite streamer with 2.6 million followers — tweeted that he had received two DMCA strikes.
“One more and i’m banned forever,” he said. “I did everything they told me to legit all my vods and clips.”
The same day, another streamer by the name of SquishyMuffinz reported that he had been banned altogether. While that ban was overturned a couple of hours later, he eventually deleted every single video from his channel out of fear of another ban.
Twitch Apologizes for Mishandling DMCA Takedowns
In its Wednesday apology, Twitch admitted that it should have made that October warning email much “more informative and helpful,” conceding that it had provided “frustratingly little information.”
“You’re rightly upset that the only option we provided was a mass deletion tool for Clips, and that we only gave you three-days notice to use this tool,” the company said. “We could have developed more sophisticated, user-friendly tools awhile ago. That we didn’t is on us. And we could have provided creators with a longer time period to address their VOD and Clip libraries – that was a miss as well.”
“We’re truly sorry for these mistakes, and we’ll do better.”
Before May of this year, Twitch said “streamers received fewer than 50 music-related DMCA notifications each year” on the platform. Since then, it has been receiving “thousands of DMCA notifications each week” from major record labels, something it doesn’t expect to slow down.
“This means two things: 1) if you play recorded music on your stream, you need to stop doing that and 2) if you haven’t already, you should review your historical VODs and Clips that may have music in them and delete any archives that might,” the company went on to say.
Among the next steps Twitch says it’s taking, that includes expanding its technology to be able to detect copyrighted audio, introducing “more granular ways to manage your archive,” and giving streamers the ability to review which clips were hit with DMCA notices to help them more easily file counter-claims.
EU Hits Amazon With Antitrust Charges, Accusing It of Predatory Behavior Against Small Businesses
- The executive branch of the European Union laid out its first set of antitrust charges against Amazon on Tuesday in an investigation related to the company’s dual role as both a retailer and a merchant on its website.
- Specifically, the EU is accusing Amazon of abusing that role. It claims that Amazon utilizes seller data from other vendors in order to determine which products it can replicate at cheaper prices.
- The EU also launched a separate investigation into Amazon’s “buy boxes,” accusing the tech giant of preferentially listing its own products, as well as products from sellers that pay to use Amazon’s logistics services.
- The EU joins a growing list of governments addressing antitrust concerns among big tech companies. On Monday, India launched an investigation into whether Google unfairly promoted its payment app on Google Play, the Android app store.
EU Files Antitrust Charges Against Amazon
In a preliminary set of charges filed on Tuesday, the European Union accused tech giant Amazon of violating antitrust laws.
In those charges, the European Commission — the EU’s executive branch — accused Amazon of abusing its dual role as both a retailer and a merchant. By being both a retailer and merchant, Amazon hosts thousands of vendors on its website, allowing them a place to sell their products, while at the same time selling its own products there.
The background related to these charges is a frequent target of controversy surrounding Amazon.
Many small businesses will sell their products on Amazon largely because it’s become such a dominant force in online retail. For example, a shopper is much more likely to find a business on Amazon than they are to find and then also go to that business’s website.
However, Amazon has long been accused of replicating products that sell well on the website, oftentimes then selling those similar products for much cheaper. Moves like that can severely damage small businesses that don’t have the same level of resources Amazon does. It also means smaller companies are left in a “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” situation, having to decide between relying on the exposure that Amazon brings to grow a business and potentially having those ideas ripped off by Amazon.
That’s where the European Commission’s come in. According to the Commission — which reviewed data from more than 80 million transactions and 100 million products on Amazon in France and Germany, the EU’s two largest markets — the company is routinely integrating non-public seller data from other vendors into its own retail algorithms.
Essentially, if true, that would mean Amazon is looking at metrics such as the number of a certain product sold by independent vendors on Amazon, as well as how much money those vendors have made from each product. That information, which isn’t able to be accessed by other vendors on Amazon, would then allow Amazon to determine which new products it should roll out and how much it should charge for them.
“We do not take issue with the success of Amazon or its size,” European Commission top antitrust official Margrethe Vestager said. “Our concern is the very specific business conduct that appears to distort competition.”
“Data on the activity of third party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it act[s] as a competitor to these sellers,” she added.
Second Investigation: Amazon Distorts “Buy Boxes”
Alongside those charges, the Commission has also announced that it’s started a separate investigation into Amazon’s policies around its “buy box.”
That’s the sidebar on Amazon that allows customers to add items to their cart with one click; however, the caveat is that the buy box only lists a single vendor. To view other, less-prominently displayed vendors, customers would need scroll down.
As Vestager explains it, “The Buy Box is essential. It prominently shows you offers for one single seller of a chosen product with the possibility for the consumer to purchase it directly. So winning the Buy Box is crucial for the marketplace sellers as it seems that more than 80% of all transactions on Amazon are channelled through it.”
Regarding this investigation, the Commission is specifically looking into whether Amazon uses the buy box to preferentially list its own products and/or products from sellers that pay to use its logistics services.
“Our concern is that Amazon may artificially push retails to use its own related services,” which “may potentially lock them deeper into Amazon’s own ecosystem,” Vestager said.
Amazon Rebukes EU Findings
Naturally, Amazon has denied the Commission’s charges.
“No company cares more about small businesses or has done more to support them over the past two decades than Amazon,” a spokesperson said.
As for where things go from here, it’s unclear, but this is likely going to be a very slow process. For one, these charges are just preliminary. The Commission actually needs to finish its investigation first. That means it could take months — or more likely, years — before a fine or other penalties are announced.
It’s also possible these charges could be dropped if the Commission reaches a settlement with Amazon; however, if the Commission does agree that Amazon violated EU competition law, Amazon could face fines up to 10% of its annual worldwide turnover, which would amount to a maximum of $37 billion.
Next month, the Commission is expected to unveil a new package of laws in what could be one of the sweeping set of regulations on the tech industry ever. Notably, that could include rules restricting self-preferential treatment and requiring massive companies like Amazon to share data with smaller rivals.
But it’s not just Europe. On Monday, India opened an antitrust case against Google over allegations that it unfairly promotes Google Pay on Google Play, the app store for Android phones.
Just last month in the U.S., Congress also took aim at big tech companies. In fact, a House Judiciary subcommittee accused Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google of engaging in anti-competitive monopoly tactics.
“By controlling access to markets, these giants can pick winners and losers throughout our economy. They not only wield tremendous power, but they also abuse it by charging exorbitant fees, imposing oppressive contract terms, and extracting valuable data from the people and businesses that rely on them,” the report said, hitting a very similar note to that of the European Commission.