Synth and hardware maker Behringer is in some hot water after they have tried some heavy-handed tactics to try and silence critics. Uli Behringer wrote a long post on the Music Tribe Academy Facebook page in response to CDM’s Peter Kim (who broke both stories on this) defending his right to sue those who are “defaming” the company and saying he is “a big believer in free speech.”
The story starts with Behringer threatening to sue Chinese tech website Midifan over the use some wording on their site referring to Behringer “plagiarized dogs” and “shameless people.” Last year Midifan reported on strikes held at the Behringer factory in China where employees were protesting working conditions and practices according to RA.
The Behringer kept the lawyers busy by suing one of Dave Smith Instruments employees who they say made “false and slanderous statements about our company on multiple forums” and 20 other forum members on gearslutz according to CDM. According to Uli, the employee signed a cease & desist letter, but continued to make statements, which forced them to sue. The lawsuit is now a year in and has started to turn on Behringer who are on the defensive and may have to pay DSI.
Behringer starts the article by letting people know he is fine with criticism, but there is a line.
“Let me start by saying that we don't have any problem with people criticizing us. In fact we appreciate constructive criticism as that's the only way to learn.
What we have a problem with is when our employees are being called highly offensive and insulting names by media outlets. Unfortunately your article did not properly reflect the full content and background of the language used, which in the Chinese culture has a highly different sensitivity and legality.”
The post is very, very long, but worth the read if you buy hardware or want to be a better informed consumer about the companies you buy from. He defends his company’s policy of “reverse engineering” other products.
“One needs to be clear about the distinction between blatantly copying someone else’s product and the principle of reverse engineering. Copying a product 1:1 is clearly illegal, however reverse engineering is something that takes place every day and is accepted as part of a product development process known as benchmarking.”
Instead of just allowing the criticism to die down, they decided to sue those individuals. This has created a story that may not have previously existed and a backlash. No matter the legality of slander and defamation (it happens every second of every day on Twitter), people will either side with the company or against it, which isn’t helpful for an already controversial company. They have been around for 30 years and this likely won’t do much to dent their reputation.