GoPro Sends Reviewer A DMCA Takedown Notice, Internet Explodes — But Wait! It Was An “Unfortunate Miscommunication”

Word travels fast on the Internet. Especially when you don’t want it to.

Early this morning, DigitalRev (a hybrid blog/photography store/photo sharing social network) replaced a review of GoPro’s Hero 3 with the text of a DMCA takedown they’d received. “@GoPro is bullying us with DMCA. We’ll have to remove this article soon”, they tweeted.

According to DigitalRev, GoPro was claiming foul on the site’s use of the “GoPro” and “Hero” trademarks. (That’s ignoring that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act only applies to copyright infringement. Hence, uh, the name.)

Within a few minutes, the sharpening of pitchforks could be heard from all around. Tweets started pouring in pledging to never buy another GoPro product. Word of the notice shot to the top of r/photography, r/gopro, and a few other relevant sub-Reddits. People were angry.

I reached out to GoPro’s head of communications for confirmation and comment, who responded “Hey Greg, We are posting to Reddit.”

Er, weird. But okay. A few minutes later, this went up:

Hey all- I’m out at X Games Tignes right now with the Director of PR for GoPro. I showed this to him as soon as I saw it (it had 3 comments). He dropped everything to address this issue, and it’s an unfortunate miscommunication. Below is the blurb he just wrote out for my favorite GoPro community.

Thanks for the heads up on this issue. 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.

tl;dr: Whoops — we weren’t trying to have the review taken down. We just didn’t want them using the images they were using when selling GoPro cameras.

GoPro quickly went into damage control mode, firing off links to their reddit comment to just about anyone who’d mentioned the matter. Expanding on their comment further, GoPro later tweeted that they only meant for them to take down the images being used in the sidebar:

“But wait!” yelled the crowd. If GoPro only wanted a few images to be taken down, why did they seemingly target just the review? According to GoPro, they didn’t:

What a mess.

If someone chopped up the DMCA in a way that changes the implications, that person screwed up.

Whatever GoPro’s actual initial intent was, however, someone seriously screwed up there too. Wanting to protect your brand is great, but DMCA notices aren’t meant to be thrown around like friggin’ parade candy. If you’re tossing them out to the point that it’s not even clear why they’re being sent, you might want to tighten the lawyer leash a bit.

How easily could this have been avoided by just calling the guy?