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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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  • Erich

    That’s just it, the review came out in favor of the GoPro…it’s weird. I have to wonder if this is some bot/crawler that is just auto-sending these takedowns on behalf of GoPro. It’s obvious no one over there actually read the content.

  • http://nickerwin.com/ Nicholas Erwin

    Someone else should create another review and see what happens. If GoPro never does a DMCA takedown request..then maybe like you said, could be a bot. It’s just weird, I’ve always been a huge fan of GoPro and their products..but if they doing this to people, they will lose a lot of customers. It’s just bad press.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andy-Austin/739253786 Andy Austin

    This is a terrible PR move for GoPro (please don’t sue me GoPro). Just look at what happened when Beyonce’s PR rep tried to have the not so flattering Super Bowl pictures taken down, which caused them to go viral.

  • p.rock

    Streissand Effect, anyone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/smccann27 Sean McCann

    If it could be demonstrated that it was a bot, a case could definitely be made that the notice was not in good faith and as such would open the company to a lawsuit for a frivolous claim.

  • Pilar Woodman

    Hi there, Pilar from GoPro Social Media here. There are a few things that are muddling this situation at the moment. The notice was sent to digitalrev.com not because of the review, but because digitalreview.com is not an authorized reseller and are using our trademark and product images inappropriately. The notice is in regards to the sidebar, not the review itself, but we can see why it seemed like it as the url links to both.

    We would never attempt to restrict anyone’s freedom to share their opinion about us or our products, positive or negative.

    Here’s our official response, as posted as response to the thread over on Reddit:

    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.

  • Joe

    Doesn’t the GoPro uses a sony sensor anyways?

  • Corey

    Even more strange is that the DMCA (Digital Millenium COPYRIGHT Act) has nothing to do with trademark infringement. I’m skeptical that this was authorized by GoPro’s legal department, and the signature on the notification noting the sender as a “Brand Manager” is evidence of this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=718104135 Mark Wintle

    Appears they have a history of using DMCA takedowns, and it would appear to be part of their official reseller licences, they keep mentioning the use of GoPro and Hero in URL’s as the reason for the takedowns, but all URL’s are displayed in lower case and so GoPro’s capitalisation which I assume is part of it’s legal trademark, makes it a little hard to protect in a URL unless the site the URL links to is maliciously using the name to mislead, so are GoPro saying NO ONE on the internet is allowed to use GoPro ANYWHERE in their URL even if they had no idea the URL would contain it when say they wrote a review for their blog?
    Companies really need to get their marketing teams to educate their legal teams on the Streisand effect and how it leads to the unemployment effect.

  • Thiago

    Pilar, this is somewhat hard to buy. The email sent to DigitalRev explicitly cited the review page URL, and is clearly aimed at a totally different subject. That was a notice sent to the ISP, and not to the DigitalRev sales manager. Did you really want DigitalRev to understand X from Y?

    I call BS on this explanation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=718104135 Mark Wintle

    Are GoPro investigating which Authorised Reseller is supplying Digitalrev with the GoPro stock they are selling and are GoPro publicly stating DigitalRev cannot sell GoPro products, or are you saying they cannot use the GoPro name but can sell them, I’m really confused now?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=718104135 Mark Wintle

    It’s going to suck for anyone who reviews GoPro products who has Google ads on their site which have adverts from non authorised sellers then?

  • Sickened Sam

    Yeah, I’m gonna have to go ahead and call BS on this response as well. And if it is true why a DMCA notice – mighty unfriendly. you will never see a sale to me, but you would not have anyway as I use a competitor’s product who will let me mention them by name.

  • Terrence

    Zack Arias is a bit of a Hero to me! Oh crap. One of the trademarked names is totally cool the other, well, is not. Totally uncool. (Sorry Zack but I really do look up to you).

  • ryanwrightphoto

    Odd reaction from GoPro on this one. Technically I understand why they did that, but at the same time, I don’t. Why send out a DMCA when it’s a matter that they aren’t an authorized reseller?

  • http://twitter.com/gabesturdevant gabe sturdevant

    Should this not be directed at Google or whatever company they use for their ads in the sidebar? Never knew you could choose which ads played in the sidebar. I know you can choose the company, but not the particular ad.

  • destroy_all_humans

    there response is just as bad. As if you needed a DMCA just to ask to switch some images around.

  • Warren

    So only authorised resellers are able to comment on the product or portray it in images, commentary or url’s? Would an authorized re-seller ever consider doing an independent review, would we believe a review of a product done only by an authorized re-seller? Is there not an allowance of ‘fair use’ to be considered here or in fact the rules of ‘editorial’ content apply?

    You have raised more questions with your answer Pilar of GoPro Social Media than resolved.. and yes, this is the Streissand effect, don’t chuck a tanty or the world will see you whinge.

  • john hamm

    I’m wondering what were these photos posted by Digitalrev that Gopro is so pissed off about. That would clear things up a bit.

  • http://twitter.com/JenineGiommi Jenine Giommi

    If you think Ethel`s story is really great,, 4 weeks ago my brothers father in law basically easily made $8738 working thirteen hours a week an their house and their co-worker’s half-sister`s neighbour has been doing this for 8-months and easily made over $8738 in there spare time on there labtop. use the instructions on this address………. BIT40.ℂom

  • http://www.facebook.com/xsportseeker Renato Murakami

    Apparently, this was a not very thought-through reaction from GoPro.
    What seemed to be the problem was the images used linking to a reseller of the camera itself where not the official ones required… not the review content, not the comparison to Sony’s camera.
    It was a matter of directing costumers not to GoPro’s official store, directing to another store without following guidelines (such as using official images, etc).
    Of course, pulling a DMCA take down out of nowhere was too harsh and unnecessary, kinda cheap as the problem seems to be related to directing sales for another shop – and I might add a very stupid thing to do against a channel with big following like DigitalRev.
    It might be of interest to GoPro to rethink how they deal with cases like these.

  • http://www.joushikijin.com/ Dénis Wettmann

    Excellent PR department at GoPro. I know which brand not to look at when looking for an action camera!

  • http://profiles.google.com/ksuwildkat Rob S

    Sony should jump all over this. “What are you afraid of?” “We WELCOME reviews”

    Then a series with:

    “Cant stand the heat?” “Afraid of a little rain?” “Concerned you will get CRUSHED” “Too much pressure?”

    Sony camera in the desert
    Sony camera in the rain
    Sony camera being stepped on
    Sony camera underwater

    Your welcome Sony

  • jinto

    They are buggy, freezy, poor battery life with weird support anyway. CEO is like a billionaire.

  • Matthew Wagg

    I was gonna buy a Go Pro but if they play dirty like this I want nothing to do with them

  • VSGinSC

    I finally toss that piece of junk Hero back to them (freezing up after a few seconds) and bought a Contour. If you buy a GoPro get it from someone that will take it back. It is flakey hardware

  • stephen_ng

    there’s a lot of marketing BS going on here. This has the stamp of an emasculated, overarching middle manager making his mark with aggressive market position branding. Here’s what happens, as enacted by otherwise weak personalities via a fake excessive bluff and bluster, in-your-face style:

    1. Trademark “ProGo Oher with Petapixel Technology™” and create in-house design language requiring image representation style with full trademark wordtype.

    2. Print it, say it, use it, brand it.

    3. Demand all business partners adapt it according to contract terms and conditions.

    4. Prosecute any non compliance regardless of business (non)relationship.

    This is the modus operandi of many organizations, for example Livestrong is infamous for it.

  • pontifexa

    Pilar, surely you realize that trademark infringement IS NOT copyright infringement, and this takedown notice seems like a clear case of abuse to the Internet at large. What is GP’s explanation for the way this trademark infringement is being handled?

  • arparp

    A DMCA notice is a takedown implying *copyright infringement* something your letter did not allege in any way. It has absolutely nothing to do with trademark, it has absolutely nothing to do with being an unauthorized reseller. Your explanation does nothing to address the situation whatsoever.

  • Jo

    Well then I wont be purchasing GoPro cameras in the future. If I cant, as a consumer, compare products then I am not buying ones I cant made a decision about. Come to think of it, I think I will file a complaint with the US Government on this action… As a consumer I believe I have a right to know how this camera stacks up. Ehhhh but like I said its just easier to not buy GoPro anymore. See ya!!

    That was easy.

  • Jo

    And I just stopped following them on Twitter and I “unliked” them on Facebook too.

    Smooth Move ExLax…

  • Merks

    1k pesos more and I have the money to buy GoPro Hero 3… but kinda disappointed in this. I don’t like company who only hordes their product reviews only to their official re-sellers and toss anyone who they felt not fit for their liking. I’ve followed DigitalRev for reviews for they are straightforward in anything they post in their site.

    Your loss GoPro.

  • http://twitter.com/j_coyne Justin Coyne

    Trademarks are not protected by the DMCA. Why are companies like GoPro continually allowed to abuse the law?

  • John Kantor

    Sign the petition at Causes dot com. Search for
    Stop Misuse of the DMCA.

  • Aaron

    That would be a mistake on your part, as the GoPro was favored over the Sony in the DigitalRev review, and their cameras, in general, are highly regarded.

  • Farfale

    The letter seems to me carefully worded to confuse the issue of the copyright infringement (and DMCA) with the trademark infringement.

    This would be a great place for DigitalRev to use the “Declaratory Judgement” mechanism. When GoPro sent the letter to DigitalRev, they triggered a provision that DigitalRev can now ask the court to declare that they are not infringing either of the protected IP forms (copyright and trademark).

    I think they should. I don’t want to live in a world where companies can trample all over people who are trying to make the marketplace more transparent. To DigitalRev: if you make a Kickstarter to pay for a Declaratory Judgement suit, I’ll gladly chip in $100. (though you may have to say the suit is a form of performance art… Hmmm.)

  • Bua

    Go”Phukyourselves”PRO.

  • http://www.joushikijin.com/ Dénis Wettmann

    I disagree, I do not feel like I am missing out. The contrary is the case. This kind of antisocial behaviour should not be reinforced by buying any product of this company. It is irrelevant how good the product might be, the people involved in creating, marketing and selling the product obviously do not care about anything but their own interest. This is exactly why other companies are allowed to abuse people, because we allow them to do so by supporting them.

    GoPro could have easily picked up the phone or emailed DigitalRev if they were not happy with how their product was presented in their online store and maybe provided a download link with material to use. DigitalRev is very responsive and has an excellent PR department. I am sure they would have complied or found a solution quickly. I understand that GoPro likes or any other company likes to see their products to be portrayed in a certain way and if it comes to sales I think they have every right to it. Initiating a DMCA takedown is abusing the system and a marketing error as it can be witnessed now.

    In regards to the review, I do not know why that has been removed but that is a totally different story and should not be related to DMCA because I can review whatever I want and can make a video about it as long and as often I want. DigitalRev might be in a special situation since the name could implicate it is the same company but from what I know they are two separate entities, but I might be wrong there. Either way I will add GoPro do my list of companies I will make sure to avoid in the future.

  • Atian

    After this I would not buy the GoPro Again. Damn I think they are silly!

  • http://www.joushikijin.com/ Dénis Wettmann

    Using a sledge hammer to crack a nut! Well done Pilar. Why did no one bother to call and help the folks from DigitalRev to get the images right? Or do you plain and simply want your products not to be sold by one of the biggest online traders in photo equipment?

  • http://www.joushikijin.com/ Dénis Wettmann

    Sociopaths in corporate culture!

  • http://twitter.com/topscientist Top Scientist

    They aren’t complaining about the URL here, but the page it represents.

  • http://twitter.com/topscientist Top Scientist

    “The letter that was posted next to the review on DigitalRev was not sent in response to the review”

    That’s fascinating, because the review was specifically identified by URL as the allegedly infringing material.

    Anyway, digital rev should be ashamed of themselves for caving, as go pro doesn’t have a leg to stand on legally.

  • ToeHold

    The irony here is that at the URL, the review article is gone, but side bar ads for GoPro Hero cameras are still on the page. (The review itself would be protected from DMCA takedown orders under “fair use” for editorial reviews.)

  • Mansgame

    I always thought gopros were overrated anyway since most people don’t even bother editing the footage and post 30 minute long boat rides that nobody wants to watch.

  • Alan Dove

    Great idea. Unfortunately, Sony long ago surrendered any claim to high ground on DMCA abuse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stonemirror David Schlesinger

    Yeah, this stinks — using the DMCA to address a (supposed) trademark issue is completely unreasonable. GoPro deserves every bit of blowback it gets over this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stonemirror David Schlesinger

    I’m sorry, Pilar, but this is nonsensical. Using a DMCA complaint to address what you’re claiming is a trademark issue? That’s not what the DMCA is for.

  • http://blog.volgyiattila.hu/ Attila Volgyi

    actually as a blogger I’ve received a lot worse letter from Sony – so I’m not a fan of theirs. but it was definitely a wrong move by GoPro

  • Pablo

    interesting idea about using kickstarter