As strange as it sounds, major movie studio Warner Bros accidentally filed for their own website to be removed from search results
Yes. That’s right. In a bizarre turn of events, Warner’s crusade to stop all pirated content in the world hit a slight snag.
There’s obviously been some kind of mix up in the office, but the whole thing is a bit of a PR mess for Warner. Here’s a basic rundown of the situation, and what it says about the entertainment industry’s ongoing approach to copyright.
What has happened?
In order to curb the spread of copyright infringement, Warner Bros have been reporting web pages that break legislation; and regularly submit links to Google that violate their terms of service.
In turn, Google check out these links, and if they are indeed found to be violating copyright law, shut them down.
This year alone, Warner have submitted over four million links to Google for review.
On this particular occasion though, Warner Bros. enlisted the help of Vobile, a company which “offers solutions to help content owners protect, measure and monetise movies and TV content across the Internet and on all screens”.
Unfortunately, Vobile process for tracking down copyright infringement would seem to have a few issues, because not only did they reportedly submit Warner’s own website for review, they also allegedly flagged sites like Amazon and IMDb where the company’s movies were sold.
How did that happen?
Warner Bros haven’t yet commented on the incident, but it’s likely the system being used involved some kind of automated internet software to comb the web for key words.
The legitimate sites probably just got mixed in with the illegitimate ones, causing this rather strange situation.
It’s lucky that Google caught the errors though, otherwise perfectly legitimate websites would have taken some serious inconvenience.
Possibly in a ‘taste of your own medicine’ move, Google made sure to keep the Warner Bros homepage under review while all other legitimate websites have been removed from the list, so at least there’s that.
What’s the upshot?
The whole situation reveals flaws in the system. In Warner’s copyright crackdown, they’ve ended up (inadvertently) swinging their fists at everyone that has anything to do with their movies.
It highlights the ongoing issues with anti-copyright infringement systems online, which – while wielded for understandable reasons by the entertainment industry – often seem to target innocent parties as much as wrongdoers.
We’ve seen it with YouTube, and we’re seeing it here.