Apr 10, 2008

Wal-Mart Candid Video Archives Available

(Wall Street Journal)
"For nearly 30 years,
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. employed a video-production company," Flagler Productions Inc. "to capture footage of its top executives, sometimes in unguarded moments. Two years ago, the retailing giant stopped using the tiny company."

"In recent months, Flagler has opened its trove of some 15,000 Wal-Mart tapes to the outside world, with an eye toward selling clips. The material is proving irresistible to everyone from business historians and documentary filmmakers to plaintiffs lawyers and union organizers."

Among the revealing moments: A former executive vice president and board member challenges store managers in 2004 to continue his work opposing unionization. Male managers in drag lead thousands of co-workers in the company's corporate cheer. In another meeting, managers mock foolish or dangerous use of a product sold in its stores. In 1991, founder Sam Walton describes Hillary Clinton, then a Wal-Mart director, as "one of us."

The best part, maintains plaintiffs lawyer Gene P. Graham Jr., is that "Wal-Mart has no control over this stuff."

Wal-Mart isn't pleased. "It's difficult to understand how the company could now sell to third parties the material we paid it to produce on our behalf," says a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. "Needless to say, we did not pay Flagler Productions to tape internal meetings with this aftermarket in mind." She adds that the company is "reviewing our legal options."

In a Jan. 14 letter to Flagler, Marshall S. Ney, a lawyer for Wal-Mart, said the retailer has "claims to rights in the video library" and the film transcripts.

Huffington Post

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