Kotaku bows to, then headbutts, Warner Brothers' lawyers

Nondisclosure agreements typically have reporters agree not to run stories before a certain date. Warner Brothers' NDA, however, apparently bans signitories from covering information already published elsewhere. Game blog Kotaku, doubtless chafing under such an NDA, suggests this is to 'lock in exclusives,' i.e. to prevent critical coverage of info published early in other media. Therefore, it will not cover Warner Brothers' games at all for three months.


  1. I’ve been a party to similar agreements in the past, and this is not an unusual requirement. The deal is the company gives you pre-release information (and, more often than not, a review unit) in exchange for you not publishing *anything* about it until a certain date.

    So that’s the offer. Journalists are free to accept it or decline it. But if you don’t take a review device it’s going to be tough to have a review ready on launch day.

    1. From what I’m reading here though, the difference is that Warner has an NDA only with specific outlets, so journalists who may be more critical of a game must wait until release while the ones who may or may not be given monetary incentives are allowed to post reviews early. There’s nothing wrong with a media-wide NDS but as soon as one outlet posts coverage then all should be allowed to to prevent bias.

    2. Journalists are free to accept it or decline it.

      Or ask WB to talk to the hand. You forgot that option.

  2. Eli, I think they are arguing this goes beyond. To me it reads like, Eli: you signed the NDA, so you get to review Batman. Joe over there also signed the NDA, and he will review Wonder Woman. Because you signed the NDAs, you are not allowed to talk about Wonder Woman even after Joe posts his review. That’s a dick move, Warner Bros. Once it’s out, it’s out.

  3. Seems like a legitimate complaint on Kotaku’s part, and an appropriate response. Game companies can only have their way with reviewers if the reviewers allow them to.

  4. I really don’t want to take WB’s side here, but I think that this is the situation they are trying to avoid:

    1) Kotaku (gawker media) has information under embargo.

    2) Several leak / tips / rumor site then make guesses about what is under embargo.

    3) Kotaku then uses their embargoed information to sort through those other sites and write stories that link to the ones that are correct.

    4) Kotaku has not broken the embargo because they did not write about the information, but the readers of Kotaku have seen the embargoed information because Kotaku linked to it.

  5. What’s a Kotaku?

    The whole redesign fiasco thing soured me on gawker properties.

    I see that now they have a “blog” option but it’s non-obvious and I don’t really care anymore since I don’t go to their sites.

  6. Being held to an NDA when somebody else already broke the embargo is stupid because by the time you are allowed to publish nobody will care to read your story anymore.

    Kotaku taking a stand against it would have made sense had they not lost their entire audiance with a terrible redesign, so they hold little power.

  7. it will not cover Warner Brothers’ games at all for three months

    Withholding information of which you’re not the sole source on the net doesn’t seem like the best plan. Sees damage, routes around. It’s good to push back, though; WB is on crack.

    1. It’s not about withholding information. I think few people use Kotaku as their only game information source, anyway.

      However, Kotaku is one of the bigger players (from what I can see – I’m not really part of that community, so I have to make educated guesses), so them suddenly dropping all coverage of things like “Batman: Arkham City” or “F.E.A.R. 3” might sting.

  8. This seems like one in a long line of Gawker’s pointless publicity stunts. They lost any and all respect I had for them years ago. A toothless gesture like this isn’t going to change that. And WB won’t care either.

  9. Kotaku should post reviews of the most popular ways to pirate upcoming WB games. Reporting is not condoning, you see.

    That’s a headbutt!

  10. Don’t cover Warner games at all then. There are so many game news web sites around that really, who needs who now.

  11. I really think journalists should just quit signing NDAs. The subjects of reportage should not be allowed to dictate any facet of the reporting.

    My feeling is that if I report about a subject, I am using my First Amendment rights (I’m a United Statesian; your mileage may vary) to write down what I know in service of the facts. I may include opinion as long as it is based on fact. (Technically, I’m allowed to say whatever I want as long as it isn’t libel, but the facts are a pretty strong defense against libel.)

    Screw WB for wanting to shape the narrative. That shouldn’t be allowed.

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