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GoPro Uses DMCA to Take Down Article Comparing Its Camera with Rival

goprocensorship

Apparently GoPro isn’t very fond of its cameras being compared to rival action cameras. The action camera pioneer has sent DigitalRev a DMCA takedown notice after the latter published an article last month comparing GoPro Hero 3 with the Sony HDR-AS15.

DigitalRev received the following DMCA takedown notice earlier today from legal reps at GoPro:

Softlayer.com:

We are providing you this letter of notification pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 17 USC??512(c) to make Softlayer.com aware of material on its network or system that infringes the exclusive copyrights of Woodman Labs, Inc d/b/a GoPro (“Company”). We hereby affirm that the undersigned is authorized to act on behalf of Company whose exclusive intellectual property rights we believe to be infringed as described herein.

We have a good faith belief that the Internet site found at digitalrev.com infringes the rights of the Company by using the following trademarks of the Company:

“GOPRO” Registered: 3/3/2009 US Registration# 3032989
“HERO” Registered: 12/20/2005 US Registration# 3308141

The Company represents that it has not authorized your customer to use the Infringing Material. Based upon information at its disposal on digitalrev.com, we believe that the statements in this notice are accurate and correctly describe the infringing nature and status of the Infringing Material.

Accordingly, we hereby demand that Softlayer.com immediately remove or disable access to the Infringing Material at:

http://www.digitalrev.com/article/gopro-hero-3-vs-sony/Njk3MDQ3MDg_A

As you may know, if this information is not removed after notice that complies with the DMCA, the Internet Service Provider may also be held liable for the copyright infringement.

I have a good faith belief that use of the trademark(s) described above in connection with the domain and URLs described above is not authorized by the trademark owner, and such use is not otherwise permissible under applicable law.

I represent that the information in this notification is true and correct and that I am authorized to act on behalf of the trademark owner.

Sincerely,

Woodman Labs, Inc d/b/a GoPro
Patrick Hayes
Brand Manager
+1 (415) 738-2480 x7282
+1 (415) 814-5373 fax

DigitalRev immediately took the original article down. Here’s a screenshot of what it looked like:

screenshot

They also published a blog post titled “GoPro doesn’t like their Hero 3 compared to Sony’s AS15?,” bringing the whole dispute to the public’s attention.

DigitalRev writes,

It appears that our friend at San Mateo doesn’t like us comparing their latest product to the Sony AS15. Earlier today we have received a DMCA take down notice from GoPro for mentioning their trademarks “GoPro” and “Hero” without their authorisation. They say “you learn something new everyday”, and this is clearly an eye-opener for us here. It appears that we’ll need their authorisation to review their products.

Those who are familiar with DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) might know that more than 50% of DMCA notices are filed with an abusive nature to suppress freedom of expression or to prevent fair competitions. We hope GoPro is not suggesting, with this DMCA notice, that camera reviews should be done only when they are authorised by the manufacturers.

It would be quite unfortunate for camera review websites if negative reviews could be wiped from the Internet simply because company and product names were mentioned in the articles. We’ll likely see GoPro issue an explanation (and hopefully apology) in the very near future as this story spreads.


Update: Here’s GoPro’s official response:

The letter that was posted next to the review on DigitalRev was not sent in response to the review. Obviously, we welcome editorial reviews of our products. This letter was sent because DigitalRev is not an authorized reseller of GoPro products and they were using images and had incorrect branding and representation of our product in their online commerce store. As part of our program – we ask merchants who are selling our product to use authorized images. That is why DigitalRev was contacted. But – our letter did not clearly communicate this and that is something we will correct.


Thanks for the heads up, David!


 
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  • Pablo

    I don’t understand GoPro’s response. The site was using “images…of our product…” that were not GoPro’s “authorized images.” Does that mean someone took images of the used cameras and posted them to show shoppers the state of the used cameras? And that GoPro is claiming a copyright infringement because the site was not using images GoPro has copyrighted? So that GoPro is claiming copyright infringement because their copyrighted images hadn’t been copied?

    Nothing about this makes sense: trademark, copyright, fair use, free speech…. Nothing.

  • Guest

    Be sure to check out GoPro’s response — it looks like the website in question is actually being shady (I mean, for starters, they’re a Hong Kong based company and their website has U.S. flags plastered all over it) and claiming the takedown was for a review, not for unauthorized use of the GoPro trademark

  • http://www.facebook.com/todd.gardiner Todd Gardiner

    I believe the images were the standard press kit photos that GoPro distributes, but GoPro is asserting a copyright ownership of these images and calling the online retailers use of them “unauthorized”.

    But yeah, Pilar didn’t really explain the legal issue like a lawyer would.

  • http://www.facebook.com/todd.gardiner Todd Gardiner

    Actually, DCMA does not have an exception for Fair Use. Copyright infringement does, but neither the copyright owner nor the web host are empowered to decide if any specific use is Fair Use.

    Instead, the person that posted has to appeal and then the material is re-posted unless the copyright owner initiates a copyright infringement lawsuit. Only a judge is allowed to make the proper decision as to whether something is Fair Use.

  • ToeHold

    Does that imply that any DCMA takedown request for any reason (whether legitimate or egregious) requires the web host to comply without any proof of actual infringement on the part of the copyright owner?

  • http://twitter.com/dansdata Daniel Rutter

    > say I buy 100 Hero 3′s and then I sell them on my site

    Depending on the jurisdiction, this may actually be illegal. Different countries have different laws regarding authorised distributors and such, generally put in place at the urging of local retailers to avoid competition from grey imports.

    If that’s the case, of course, then you still don’t send a damn DMCA takedown notice, you point to the appropriate local legislation.

    (Since DigitalRev are in Hong Kong, I strongly doubt any such law exists where they are.)

  • slapphappe

    Hmm, yes, I too would chip in some dollars for you to defend the takedown!

  • joebush

    There no such thing as unauthorized use of trademarks in a fair use case. How can you review anything if you need to get authorization just to say the name of the product your’e reviewing??

    The DMCA is also not for illegal trademark use. This is a clear violation of a DMCA takedown notice. That is why the obviousness of it being due the review is clear.

  • anonymous

    DigRev seems to be making fair use by an on-line publication.

  • alex r

    Go pro made a huge mistake by doing this and has tarnished the companies
    reputation. They said it was an accident by filing the dmca takedown
    notice however I think their intentions were clear but when it went
    viral they changed their tune.

  • Rob Elliott

    …. if they are talking about the Digitalrev store then perhaps they should have linked the store not the article.

  • Carsten

    This might be a good place to name the competing product which compares favorably with the unnamed_camera. I was also planning to buy an unnamed_camera one day, but now I will not. This whole thing is just complete BS and I will not support such companies financially. The only way unnamed_company could clear their name, IMO, is to post an outright apology, and reprimand the responsible employee publicly.

  • rashed

    Thank you for your insight. I have always wondered how a loose cannon like Mark Latham was made leader and now it is explained, the old payback.
    What small minded people, hate makes of us all.
    And as for Latham, here was a man who called George W. the worst president ever ( he was right there) and then knocked people over in the stampede to shake his hand.
    Obviously a man of no substance which explains his weathervane approach to policies.
    However, as a political commentator I find Mark both refreshing and entertaining. A candid breath of fresh air who, because of his perceived ill-treatment by the ALP, is even-handed in his commentary, unlike the hacks like Kroger, Reith and Costello who just read from the prayer book and spout propoganda, thus dismissing their own credibility of argument.

  • JBrowne1012

    You are full of sh*t.

  • Steve Frank

    Stop being such a jew, Pilar. Go count your money and shut up. Get a nose job while you’re at it. That jew nose is bad. Typical jew, paranoid about everything, his camera, trademark, etc. Then he gets caught overreaching and tries to diffuse and confuse people that the jew did nothing wrong. Shut up jew.