Rotolight Has Unfavorable Review Taken Down, Experiences Streisand Effect


UK lighting manufacturer Rotolight recently earned itself a good bit of bad press when the company allegedly used a DMCA notice to get an unfavorable video review taken down by Vimeo, sparking free speech outrage within the photographic community.

The video in question was a comparison review by F-Stop Academy’s Den Lennie. Lennie compared the Rotolight Anova LED (pictured above) to two competitor lights, and the Anova came out less-than-favorable. That’s when things get a bit confusing.

Lennie claims that a DMCA was filed with Vimeo, which resulted in the video being taken down. This was confirmed by a statement Lennie received and republished claiming that, because the review was “not fair or representative,” Rotolight claimed it infringed on the company’s trademark and had it taken down.

Lennie subsequently published the following video via Facebook, explaining what happened and expressing the firm belief that reviewers “should not have [their] work being taken down simply because a manufacturer doesn’t like the outcome:”

The confusing part is that the official statement released by Rotolight yesterday, in addition to apologizing, also backtracks and seems to deny misuse of a DMCA takedown notice:

In this specific case, the video was not removed for copyright infringement reasons as has been widely reported. Rotolight received external advice with respect to this particular video that it was potentially misleading and unrepresentative.

The company goes on to apologize for what it calls “a breakdown in communication between the key parties,” but not without first explaining its side:

“Due to a simple human error, the light featured in this Video was found to have a minor anomaly in its manual software calibration process, which affected only this particular light. It was immediately rectified and returned to the customer, resolving the issue displayed in the Video. The issue here was not that we simply ‘didn’t like the results’ but that the original test video was posted to Vimeo 5 months after the issue had been rectified, without any reference to this.

Even if this is the case, however, several news outlets covering the story point out that using a DMCA to take down the review was still wrong.

As a “gesture of good faith,” the company is donating a $3,000 Rotolight to F-Stop Academy, and has invited them to the company’s Pinewood Studios Office to meet the designer and the Rotolight team. Additionally, The original review has also been restored to Vimeo:

It’s still unclear whether a DMCA was indeed used erroneously to have the video taken down — although it seems clear there was no copyright infringement — but Lennie has officially accepted Rotolight’s apology and intends to put the whole matter behind him as he has already “spent enough of [his] holiday dealing with this debacle.”

“Rotolight have apologized and I respect them for manning up. I accept that apology and will take no further action following this blog post,” writes Lennie. “I will however hold them to a re-test, we will film it and publish those results.”

The Streisand effect is defined as “the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely.” If the folks at Rotolight didn’t know about it before, it’s safe to say they do now.

(via Lighting Rumours)

  • tttulio

    PR people never learn…

  • agour

    So they just sent over 3k of equipment as an ‘apology’… Right.

  • kvols

    Try posting it on Youtube. You might actually get away with it. Google does not just take things down – they’ve refused to do so on numerous occasions!

  • calilifestyle

    Yeah this bs . taking this down just because they didn’t like the review

  • Renato Murakami

    This is wrong on several different levels, this is what is specially bad.
    Vimeo, for taking out the video without analyzing content and if it was fair to comply do the take down.
    Rotolight, for trying to justify the action because of X. It’s an unjustifyiable action in any stance. Even more if the defective product was really theirs anyways, not say, a fake product. It’s unexcusable anyway… you just don’t use DMCA takedown on videos that are not infringing copyright, period.
    And then again, Rotolight (and F-Stop Academy if they accepted it) for offering a “let’s be friends” bribe of $3000 in equipment. It’s not about money you idiots, it’s about at least saying you won’t abuse DMCA takedowns for stuff like that again.
    Full stream of textbook examples that gives blogging and internet reviews/journalism a bad rep in the first place.

  • Rabi Abonour

    I have trouble blaming Vimeo here. A web host is liable for infringing content under the DMCA, so it makes sense they would lean on the side of not getting sued.

  • Rabi Abonour

    Huh? Videos get DMCA’d off YouTube all the time.

  • Renato Murakami

    Shure, but at least for me, this shows how weak Vimeo is protecting it’s users. I mean, if the video was obviously a review, it’s fair use.
    Even more when it was so straight to the point without any commentary whatsoever.
    While I do understand that fair use is fairly (no pun intended) flimsy, there is a higher purpose here which is to not create precedents for corporative abuse.
    Put it simple, if Vimeo could be so easily convinced to take down videos, then any businesses out there who don’t like/agree with reviews of their products could start submitting DMCA takedowns on every video in Vimeo and letting only reviews that says good things about them, whether true or not, to stay.
    It’s basically a very damning and bad form of censorship – one practiced by people with commercial interests.
    But that’s only the way I’m seeing it, of course.

  • Rabi Abonour

    I don’t disagree that this is a form of censorship. My point is only that Vimeo and similar sites are put into a difficult situation by the DMCA. They are responsible for enforcing copyright, but there is no way they could actual evaluate every video reported as infringing and determine the legitimacy of the claim.

  • Sky

    lol. Google’s the first one to blindly comply with DCMAs.

  • Sky

    Which is a huge issue. Either with DMCA as such or video-hosting services. It’s just one enormous hole in a freedom of speech as well as good name of the companies hosting the content. Not to mention an enormous field of abuses that are possible ONLY because DMCA exists.

  • Rabi Abonour

    Like I said, I think this is a huge issue too. But I think it is an issue with the DMCA – I am reluctant to blame the hosts.