Sep 8, 2016

Warner Brothers Report own website for copyright infringement

Warner Brothers has, rather humorously, submitted takedown requests to Google asking that their own websites are taken down, claiming copyright infringement.  The requests were filed through Vobile, a company that files takedown requests on behalf of their clients.

The requests were made to Google with the intention of preventing people from viewing or purchasing illegal copies of Warner's movies.   Warner Bros are constantly trying to prevent illegal search results from appearing on Google.  This year they have allegedly identified over 4 million infringing URL's.   However, in these circumstances they have accidentally requested the takedown of their own pages.

The mistake was spotted by TorrentFreak, an online publication dedicated to sharing the latest news about copyright and privacy.

Vobile mistakenly requested that Google remove links to Warner's official movie pages for the Batman movie The Dark Knight and the Matrix.  Vobile also asked Google to remove links to legitimate pages from Amazon and Sky as well as the file database IMDB.

Vobile use an automated system to help locate copyright infringements and this type of error is apparently fairly common. The automated system generates Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests in the USA.  A takedown request is an easy way to request the removal of infringing copyright online without a lengthy legal process.

At present there is no penalty for making an incorrect claim of copyright infringement by filing a takedown request.  Therefore, companies can file hundreds of DMCA takedown requests making it difficult for Google to spot any errors and legitimate content can easily be removed.

Luckily, Google did notice the error in Vobile's requests to remove the Amazon, Sky, and IMDB links and decided not to take any action.  However, the links to Warner's movie pages are still being investigated.

Take down requests are a relatively cheap and effective tool against infringing content posted online. Relying on automated systems to identify this infringing content streamlines the process even further however this story demonstrates the potential pitfalls of operating such a system without any effective oversight.

Posted by: in: Copyright, Digital/Tech, News

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