During the last 24 hours Google published an extremely enlightening database listing DMCA takedown notices the company receives from rightsholders. Google calls it their ‘Transparency Report’ and its very publication shows why transparency is absolutely needed in these areas.
Quite simply, rightsholders are having problems getting it right. Check out these ridiculous takedowns from some of the world’s leading entertainment companies against sites that have done nothing wrong.
Warner Brothers: Wrath of the Titans
When a movie’s either just about to come out or already doing the rounds, people want to find out about it. Amazingly, Warner and their anti-piracy partners managed to undermine their own marketing campaign for Wrath of the Titans with DMCAs sent to Google.
Through this DMCA takedown Warner requested the removal of the IMDb listing for their own movie.
But it didn’t stop there. Warner also asked Google to delist the official trailer on Apple along with the ones on Hulu, The Guardian and FilmoFilia. In addition, the studio asked for an article on BBC America to be removed along with a listing on a site that helps people find theaters to watch the movie.
As can be seen here, Warner issued a takedown for the IMDb listing for its own movie Happy Feet Two. They were in good company since Paramount Pictures, NBC Universal and other rights holders did the same for IMDb information pages covering their content.
Hulu has also become an unlikely target. In addition to the Warner takedown mentioned above, UFC owner Zuffa also asked Google to delist its own content on the authorized video site.
Sony-owned Crackle was picked on too, when Warner Bros. asked Google to delist an information page about its movie Hall Pass.
Other news and information sites
Bizarrely, news sites are being hit with takedowns too. In addition to the Warner instance mentioned above, the RIAA asked Google to delist a review of the album Own The Night published on The Guardian. The artist behind the album is Lady Antebellum, signed to RIAA-member Capitol Records.
Even more worrying, the RIAA asked Google to delist Last.fm’s entire Electro Pop section because they thought it carried a pirate copy of All About Tonight by Pixie Lott.
Warner also reappeared later on, asking Google to delist a page on news site NME which lists information on the latest movies, which at the time included information on the movie Hall Pass. The same page on NME was targeted on several other occasions, including by anti-piracy company DtecNet on behalf of Lionsgate, who had info on The Hunger Games delisted.
Hollywood Reporter didn’t fare much better either. Sony Pictures asked Google to swing the banhammer against the popular news site after it published an article called “Trent Reznor Releases Six Free Tracks From ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ Soundtrack” and Sony mistook it for a DVDRIP.
But as soon as Sony’s piracy fears on the first ‘Dragon Tattoo’ movie had subsided they were back as strong as ever with the sequel. This time the sinner was Wikipedia who dared to put up an information page on the movie The Girl Who Played With Fire. Luckily Sony were on hand to ask Google to delist the page.
Although just a tiny percentage of the thousands of correct takedowns issued, the above shows that overbroad filters and poorly considered notices can impact businesses who shouldn’t be affected by them, studios and people who merely report on their content alike.
Fortunately, Google says it does not comply with all takedown requests, rejecting a few percent and reinstating others at later dates, including some of the above.