Warner Brothers illustrate wrong way to handle copyright concerns

5 Oct 2016

Posted by Simon Wadsworth

People are increasingly using multimedia content online, which they do not hold rights to, infringing on copyright. Firms regularly lodge concerns over mis-use of copyright with Google, as said content will remain online until flagged and reported. When pursuing this strategy tread with care, otherwise you could emulate Warner Brothers’ recent mistake and damage your company’s image online.

Thoughtless error

Warner Brothers (WB) is one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. Fans regularly create pirate copies of WB works or stream these productions online without their consent, both of which are illegal. WB is currently moving to end these practises, in order to push consumers towards its own online channels, which the firm legally has the right to do, as they own the rights to this content.

According to Mashable, WB recently reported websites which had breached copyright laws to Google. WB were fully entitled to take this action, but while reporting these websites, the firm made a critical error. When flagging up portals which had breached copyright regulations, WB included both its own website and, which has permission to sell WB-owned works such as The Matrix.

This DMCA request was lodged by copyright protection firm Vobile, on behalf of WB. It is believed that WB’s own site and were accidentally included in the request due to a mistake made via Vobile’s automated process. It is important to note that millions of take-down requests are lodged with Google daily and other firms, such as Microsoft in 2013, have made similar mistakes in the past.

Critical consequences

When a firm finds content online which breaks regulations, they can reap advantages by reporting the offending website to Google. WB certainly had a good case as with the exception of its own website and Amazon, the relevant content clearly violated copyright rules. But with the inclusion of its own website WB came off as incompetent, generating embarrassing content damaging its brand online.

It is important to note that this mistake also brought WB’s attempts to tackle rival sites and illegal film streamers to light. This could incentivise users to create more illegal copies of WB content, meaning that the brand’s mistake could have increased competition for its target audience’s attention online. Furthermore, online trolls may see this as an opening to barrage WB with negative content online.

Best approach

WB’s mistake shows us that when you report copyright infringements to Google, it is vital that you ensure that the details included in your application are completely accurate. It is key that you get the request right first time, because you may not get the chance to submit your application again.

With rapidly advancing digital technologies, users are increasingly publishing others’ content online, without realising that they are breaking the law. Digital copyright infringement is a growing issue for brands, but governing bodies need to do more to both prevent illegal online behaviour and educate people on digital copyright issues.

This means that for now, the onus is on your company to handle copyright infringement matters. Ensure that if your material is used without your consent, it can be flagged and removed on search engines such as Google, without putting your online image in jeopardy.

Posted by Simon Wadsworth

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