The Death Of Viral Videos?

January 21, 2011

Woman walks through a mall. Woman receives a text message. Woman responds to the text message. Woman, distracted, trips and falls into a fountain.

Woman – shocked, embarrassed, drenched – exits the fountain, and exits the television screen if you’re watching the security tape that captured the whole event. Mall security watches the tape. Someone with mall security decides to post a video of the video – an important distinction – onto YouTube.

Within a week, the original clip is viewed more than 1.8 million times. Then the woman appears with her attorney on Good Morning America, and she says she’s considering a lawsuit. The woman is Cathy Cruz Marrero, and she just may replace Ted Williams, the man with the golden voice, as Biggest Viral Celebrity of 2011. She may also be known as the woman who killed viral videos.

If Marrero can argue the YouTube video and subsequent attention caused her emotional distress, she may have a case. (I’m no lawyer, but I feel like crazier claims have gone to trial.) And if that precedent’s set, what’s to prevent anyone who’s ever been unknowingly taped slipping on ice or falling down stadium stairs or taking a line drive to the crotch from lawyering up? Could the law then become no video may be posted to the Internet without the subject’s consent? Would these viral videos then be considered not-so-intellectual property?

My gripe – and I imagine yours, too – is that Marrero has brought most of the attention directly onto herself. It’s unlikely anyone would’ve recognized Marrero by the video alone. Instead, she raised her hand and made the national media rounds, each time playing the traumatized victim with performances worthy of Tara Reid comparisons.

Remind me again – can a plaintiff claim insanity?

It should be interesting to see where this one goes. I hope Marrero somehow finds humor in the situation and walks away like any other decent human would’ve in the first place.