In what is by far the greatest DMCA mess we’ve ever witnessed, several major movie studios have seemingly asked Google to take down legitimate copies of their own films. Through an agent the studios further requested the search engine to remove their official Facebook pages and Wikipedia entries, as well as movie reviews in prominent newspapers. Has the world gone mad or…?
Update: see updates below the article.
Ever since Google announced that it would publish the DMCA requests it receives as part of their transparency report, the number of notices being sent have shot through the roof.
While the majority of the requests are legitimate there are also occasional mistakes, often caused by automated filters. To some degree this is understandable, but the examples we present today are so off the chart that the people responsible should really reconsider their jobs.
Early November a few dozen DMCA notices were sent on behalf of several major movie studios. While this is nothing new by itself, the number of mistakes in these notices are stunning. We will discuss a few of them below.
On behalf of Lionsgate a DMCA notice was sent to Google, asking the search engine to remove links to infringing copies of the movie “Cabin in the Woods”. The notice in question only lists two dozen URLs, but still manages to include perfectly legal copies of the film on Amazon, iTunes, Blockbuster and Xfinity.
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox sent in a DMCA notice to protect the movie “Prometheus”. However, as collateral damage it also took down a link to a legal copy on Verizon on demand, the collection of the Prometheus Watch Company, and a Huffington Post article.
And what about a DMCA takedown request for the Wikipedia entry of “Family Guy” that is supposedly infringing?
Perhaps even more crazy is another request sent on behalf of 20th Century Fox for “How I Met Your Mother”. The DMCA notice lists a CBS URL as the official source of the copyrighted material, but the same URL later appears in the list of infringing links.
BBC Films, like the other studios, also target their own film, in this case “Ill Manors”. However, the DMCA notice in question also asks Google to take down several film reviews published by The Guardian, The Independent, The Mirror and the Daily Mail.
Even worse, the takedown request lists the film’s official Facebook page.
Summit Entertainment sent a DMCA notice asking Google to remove infringing copies of the film “50/50″. However, the list of URLs contains a URL of the Blockbuster video rental site, as well as an announcement on Stanford’s website for the “50th Symposium Keynote Address by Secretary Chu”.
Other than that the notice mainly lists a variety of unrelated videos with 50 in the title, such as Attack of the 50ft Cheerleader and 50 First Dates.
A notice sent on behalf of Sony Pictures was supposed to make illicit copies of “The Other Guys” unavailable. But, for some reason it targets tech news reports on the Megaupload case on Cnet, Wired and Forbes, among others.
The same notice also lists several unrelated titles such as The Expendables, The Butterfly Effect, Frasier, Two and a Half Men, The River Wild and 28 Weeks Later.
Walt Disney Pictures
The last rogue DMCA notice we’ll discuss here is from Walt Disney Pictures who made a request for Google to disable access to infringing copies of the movie “Cinderella”. This notice mistakenly requests that Google censors the BBC’s kids corner where several perfectly legal fairy tales are listed.
For the rest the notice is filled with links to unrelated Cinderella films, or even content that’s not even related to Cinderella such as The Flintstones, Frida and Revolution.
The above is just a small selection of the most obvious mistakes, but there are many more to be found. Luckily Google appears to have left most of the reported links online, minimizing the damage.
Interestingly enough, they above examples were all sent by an outfit called “Yes It Is – No Piracy!” which we’ve never heard of before.
The company appears to present itself as a DMCA remover on the website yesitis.org but lists no address. Considering the many mistakes made by the firm, one has to wonder whether their “under penalty of perjury” statement that they represent the copyright holders above is accurate.
TorrentFreak attempted to contact several of the involved rightsholders, but we have yet to receive a response.
Whatever the case, the above once again shows the danger of automated DMCA notices that are sent out without any type of verification. Right now rightsholders and the anti-piracy outfits they employ have absolutely no incentive to improve the accuracy of their takedown systems.
Perhaps it’s time for them to be punished?
Update: Yesitis.org now points to a parked page. Yet another sign that these notices may be fraudulent, and not authorized by the copyright holders at all. If that’s indeed the case it remains unclear what the purpose of these notices is. It would show how easily these DMCA notices can be abused.
Update: According to the MPAA the notices discussed above are “bogus.” “‘Yes It Is – No Piracy!’ has no relationship with studios. It is totally fake,” they told us.