The Warner Brothers film studio has asked Google to de-list several pages from the warnerbros.com website, in an incident which highlights the shortcomings of the DMCA notice and takedown system and other similar systems around the world.
The report was made by Vobile, an anti-piracy monitoring company working on behalf of Warner Brothers. Vobile has submitted more than 13 million links for de-listing, according to Google’s transparency report.
The mistake was originally spotted by the Torrentfreak blog. Speaking to the BBC, Torrentfreak writer Ernesto van der Sar speculated that the errors was the result of automated takedown software.
Unfortunately, these kind of errors are very common. Piracy monitoring firms often use automated systems to find and report copyright infringing websites. I'm fairly certain that this happened here as well, considering the obvious mistakes that were made. A good approach would be to white-list non-infringing sources such as warnerbros.com and amazon.com - but apparently that didn't happen.
Unfortunately, the consequences of erroneous automated takedowns go beyond friendly-fire incidents such as this. Indeed, the report in question also flagged pages on website run by Sky, Amazon and the Internet Movie Database. The “report first, ask questions later” strategy embodied in this software is enabled by the lack of consequences for senders of erroneous takedown request.
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