As one of its hottest properties, HBO has become very protective of Game of Thrones.
In recent weeks thousands of pirates have received warnings in their mailboxes, and the company is also fervently trying to take down links to pirated copies of the show, with some success.
Besides from actual copies of episodes, HBO also appears to have an eye on those who talk about what may happen during the rest of the season. The Internet is littered with spoilers which HBO doesn’t like, including those posted in Spanish by YouTube user Frikidoctor.
Unlike many others, Frikidoctor is remarkably accurate with his predictions, and claims to have a source close to the fire who feeds him information. HBO doesn’t like this and has pulled several of his videos, arguing that they are infringing their copyrights.
This also happened to the video featuring several episode three spoilers which was uploaded a few days ago.
“I uploaded the video and two hours later HBO decided to take it down on YouTube [claiming] copyright infringement,” Frikidoctor says, responding to the surprise takedown.
Frikidoctor admits that he used snippets of trailers and other promotional material in earlier videos that were removed, but says that the video with the episode three “predictions” didn’t include any HBO audio or video.
“In the last two videos they took down I had some frames from teasers and trailers they decided to share with everyone for promotional purposes. This time the video did not have a single frame or sound that belongs to HBO,” he says.
Instead, the video was just him dressed up in a Mexican wrestler costume, discussing what would happen in the upcoming episode.
“So, they think that me dressed as a Mexican wrestler talking about predictions for episode three of Game of Thrones is their property. That it’s copyrighted material that belongs to them,” Frikidoctor notes.
“Isn’t that misuse of the DMCA?” he adds.
Frikidoctor has appealed the takedown with YouTube and also contacted a lawyer to discuss what steps to take next. While he sees it as a violation of his right to free speech, he’s not sure whether he’s willing to take the issue to court just yet.
For now, however, he will refrain from posting any predictions, to keep the pressure off.
If Frikidoctor did indeed pursue a claim against HBO he would have a good chance of winning. Merely talking about newsworthy information obtained from a source is generally something that would fall under fair use.
It certainly isn’t something to be struck down easily with a copyright complaint.
‘Bogus’ YouTube takedown have become a hot topic in recent months. Earlier this year close to 100,000 people voiced their concerns about potential abuse of copyright takedowns.
The campaign, spearheaded by Fight for the Future and popular YouTube channel ChannelAwesome, stressed that copyright holders are too often censoring free speech with dubious or false takedown claims.
Update: YouTube reinstated the videos.