Warner Brothers has been in the news recently after contacting Google to report websites which had broken copyright laws.
Companies contact Google every day with copyright concerns, following misuse of multimedia content online where the user doesn’t have usage rights. This content can remain online until it is flagged and reported.
Warner Brothers was trying to clamp down on video content which was infringing copyright laws – essentially, pirate copies and illegal streaming of their movies without its consent. It wanted to instead push people towards its own channels – and rightly so because their footage is their product and the brand has a right to protect it.
The intentions were clear and correct. However, in an error, Warner Brothers also managed to report their own website1 amongst those as breaking the copyright regulations. Amazon.com was also listed – a site which legitimately sells copies of the Warner Brothers-owned The Dark Knight.
Copyright protection company Vobile was behind the DMCA take-down request, and it is thought that the sites probably made it through the net by mistake from the automated process. Google receives millions of requests every day, and this isn’t the first time this has happened – Microsoft made the same mistake in 20132.
There are various benefits in a company contacting Google when finding content which breaks regulations. In this case, the content being reported (aside from WB’s own site) was reportedly in breach of copyright rules.
Not only was the obvious error embarrassing for WB and Vobile, but the cover has also been blown on their attempt to clamp down on rival sites and illegal movie streamers. This could result in further creation of illegal content, and the brand now faces a game of catch-up with others who have access to the content.
The reputation of WB’s brand is now, for the short term at least, a little clumsy – and WB may be targeted in the future by trolls.
A lesson learnt – brand protection
When making a legal request, it goes without saying that the facts should be 100% accurate. You really need to get the request right first time around, as you may not get a second chance with your request.
Copyright infringement is an increasing problem online and many people break the law when publishing other’s content on a regular basis without realizing. There is still some work to be done by governing bodies in order to catch up and educate people, as well as clamp down on illegal behavior online. In the meantime, it is up to the companies and individuals in question to look at brand protection, monitor online activity and ensure that content which can’t legally be displayed is flagged and removed.
1. http://mashable.com/2016/09/06/warner-bros-dmca/#zkAfJ9KYxsqb ↩
2. http://mashable.com/2013/07/30/microsoft-dot-com/#y1Wum7TNyuqd ↩