You would think that when writing a review, being able to mention the name of a publicly available product would be a completely non-contentious issue. Not so if you’re GoPro, apparently, as the company has used a DMCA takedown notice to squash a comparative review of the Hero 3 against Sony’s AS15 Action Cam.
Update: As several comments have noted, GoPro has issued a formal statement in regards to the issue, claiming that the DMCA notice was not in reference to DigitalRev’s review, but instead unauthorised use of GoPro trademarks for DigitalRev’s sales activities. The statement — published on fstoppers — read as follows:
“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.”
That does change matters, presuming that DigitalRev is indeed doing something that they solidly shouldn’t with GoPro’s trademarks, and it would fit in with the “error” theory in the original story. At the same time, it does show the broad and worrying powers of the DMCA; a little unclear wordage could lead to reviews being pulled.
DigitalRev was the publication in question, running an article which examined the merits and drawbacks of both devices, which is quite standard reviewing procedure.
GoPro presumably wasn’t happy, however, as the site was issued with a DMCA takedown notice, alleging trademark infringement. Not wishing to get squashed under the lawyers, DigitalRev has taken the review down, although, the internet being what it is, there are screenshots of the review out and about in any case.
Now, it is always feasible that one of GoPro’s lawyers got just a little bit too tetchy one day and issued the notice in error. I’d certainly want to hope so, because the alternative is absolutely appalling garbage of the highest — no, wait, lowest — kind.
It suggests that any product reviewer would have to get explicit written permission simply to name a product, yet alone review it, and that’s a genuinely stupid and frightening concept. Simply mentioning the name of a product in a review (or for that matter, a news article) shouldn’t be an issue at all.
GoPro Hero 3.
GoPro Hero 3.
GoPro Hero 3.
Come at me, GoPro.