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Author Topic: Censorship of an unfavourable product review (Rotolight Anova) on the Internet.  (Read 887 times)

IainB

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Fascinating example of what rather looks like a case of corporate Fascism at work in attempted censorship of the Internet:
I saw this at torrentfreak.com:
(Excerpt copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Quote
DMCA Abuse Will Cause Censored Product Review to Go Viral
Andy     July 31, 2013

A manufacturer of studio lighting is about to discover that censoring critics is a very bad idea indeed. After a filmmaker published a less-than-glowing review of one of their products, UK-based Rotolight deliberately abused the DMCA to have the video removed from Vimeo on copyright grounds. But far from hiding the contents away, there are now signs that the review – and subsequent takedown – will become a prime example of the Streisand Effect. ...
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After what seems to have been a lot of mucking about, both the review and the Vimeo video have been reinstated in full, together with relevant comment, at the F-stopAcademy blog:
Censorship? Copyright Infringement used by manufacturer to remove a comparison video…Reinstated!

There are some noteworthy points that occur to me and from the blog post and readers' subsequent comments:
  • Frustration of the consumer's "perfect knowledge": There is a concept in economics of the perfect market, wherein consumers have "perfect knowledge" of all products/services in the market and can make informed price-performance comparisons on which to base their rational buying decisions. It would appear as though the manufacturer (Rotolight Ltd.) of the Rotolight Anova lamp had decided to take a censorious, litigious and nasty approach to conceal the unfavourable test results from potential consumers. The author (Den Lennie) of the review mentions that he intends to retest the lamp, presumably as a mark of good faith. However, given that Rotolight Ltd. took the approach that they did, then that would seem to belie the rationality of retesting the product. That is, if Rotolight had thought their Anova lamp could have come out better in a retest (say, if the initial test had used a defective lamp), then they could easily have requested the retest at their expense, rather than take the approach that they did. The fact that they chose to take the latter approach (apparently even going so far as to posting comment and then deleting it on Lennie's Facebook page) would seem to indicate that they knew full well that a retest would not show up anything different.

  • Consumer voice: The Internet has gone a long way towards realising the concept of "perfect knowledge" in the marketplace, and consumers who objected to the likes of Rotolight Ltd. and attempts to keep them in ignorance through censorship could do worse than signal their displeasure by a boycott of products from Rotolight Ltd., as an indication of consumer voice and power.

  • Online video streaming service providers have legal obligations: to respect Trademarks or claims to invasion of privacy/invasion of publicity/commercial libel. They must act upon these grounds not only as a matter of law but within their own terms of service. The D.M.C.A. is just one tool in the toolkit of managing rights, focused upon copyright law, and there are others. They act in the same way when a DMCA notice form is filed.
    However, in this case, the takedown was over an apparently false claim of copyright and trademark use by Rotolight Ltd. Vimeo must have realised this, because they re-instated the video without Lennie issuing a counterclaim to force the issue, and he says that his legal team advised that "Vimeo wouldn’t have acted independently, to avoid legal repercussions. Rotolight must have told Vimeo they were backing down."

  • Dishonesty on the part of the manufacturer/vendor: As Lennie says, "They had no grounds for claiming copyright or trademark infringement.", so the claim(s) would presumably have been stated knowing that they were false/untrue. The correct term for this would be "lying". From experience and as a general rule, this sort of thing would typically be a result of incompetence and dishonesty at top management level, but could not usually exist without there being a general incubating culture of incompetence/dishonesty in the organisation. In any event, it can be a relatively common mark of a "toxic" corporate culture.

  • A learning experience: The Streisand Effect is usually seen where things backfire against your actions, drawing huge attention to the very thing you might have been so desperately trying to conceal. In this case we have not only seen that, but also seen a salutary reminder of the sanctity of consumers' rights and the consumers' market "franchise" and of the need for maintaining these things, and of the need for vigilance and improved transparency and ethics in business. This is potentially a lesson for all of us. I suspect that this will have been a good learning experience all round - "the Rotolight Anova case study".
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« Last Edit: August 05, 2013, 02:38:22 AM by IainB, Reason: Minor corrections. »

40hz

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Techdirt and Popehat are both on this story too. Talk about getting a double black eye!

Pretty interesting reading.

IainB

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^^ Thanks for the links. Reading them, it rather looks like Rotolight might have succumbed to foot-in-mouth syndrome.
There seems to be quite a lot of it about.