Warner Bros., one of the largest entertainment companies in the world, has been revealed to have been using robots to issue automated takedown requests for content that they claim infringe their copyrights. The company was required to reveal this information publicly, even though they would’ve greatly preferred that it remained secret. Because of their lawsuit against Hotfile, the county released redacted documents that detailed some of their anti-piracy operations and, it turns out, there were only seven people working in their antipiracy division and robots were making most of the takedown requests.
Warner Bros. did not want to disclose this information to the public. They claim that it would’ve made it harder for them to utilize their technology effectively. However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked the court to make the documents regarding their antipiracy operations public and they now are available.
Not all of the information is out there yet and what is out there has the classic blacked out text that goes along with agencies that want to keep information from the public. How knowing that robots are making these takedown requests would make Warner Bros. antipiracy efforts less effective is unclear, but the company was very reluctant to reveal that information to the public at large.
The robots essentially make constant searches of sites that are known to link to copyright infringing material and of other websites. What’s interesting about this methodology is that these links are not checked by any human being. The copyright infringement takedown notices are issued based on keywords, but human beings do not actually take a look at the content to see if it really infringes on Warner Bros. copyrights and they don’t take any measures to make sure that they’re not asking a site that legitimately has a right to have the content available isn’t hit with a takedown request.
USENET providers have been particularly plagued by takedown requests, many of which could be emanating from automated systems that don’t check the content, just as is the case on Internet sites.
There is still a lot of information that hasn’t been revealed in these documents but, hopefully, it will be forthcoming as the situation evolves and, with organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation keeping a close eye on such matters, the public does, at least, have some effective representation.
• Warner Bros Document – https://www.scribd.com/document/242159638/684-main