Sometimes studios can get a little overzealous when it comes to protecting their copyrights. That happened this past weekend when Warner Bros. asked to have its website removed from Google results because of a copyright violation claim. According to BBC, “The request was submitted on behalf of Warner Brothers by Vobile, a company that files hundreds of thousands of takedown requests every month.”
Torrent Freak first noted the oversight, and saw that in addition to trying to take down its own website, Warner Bros. had also requested the removal of links to the official websites for The Dark Knight and The Matrix. Additionally, licensed online movie stores like Amazon and Sky were also reported for copyright infringement. Vobile even sent a request trying to remove a link to IMDb.
So what happened? Clearly, it was an error and Warner Bros. isn’t trying to remove its own website from search results or stop people from legitimately buying copies of their movies on sites like Amazon and Sky. Sites like Vobile serve a legitimate purpose, which is to stop sites that profit from illegally selling or even just offering free downloads of movies and TV shows. Unfortunately, “Piracy monitoring firms often use automated systems to find and report copyright infringing websites,” said Ernesto van der Sar, from Torrent Freak.
The obvious solution would have been to create a white-list of non-infringing sites, but that didn’t happen here, so instead Vobile ended up sending more than 13 million links for removal. Thankfully, “After reviewing the Warner Brothers report, Google decided not to remove links to Amazon, IMDB and Sky Cinema from its results.”
Again, I understand why Warner Bros. employs sites like Vobile and that the studio wants to protect its content. They just need to be slightly more careful in how they go about it otherwise they’ll end up looking a little foolish.