On several occasions now, this blog has addressed things that one shouldn’t do as a DMCA takedown service provider, like place too much faith in DMCA takedown automation or issue a DMCA takedown notice in response to use of copyrighted material that is pretty likely to be deemed ‘fair use.’
Today, news has broken that brings us to another thing you really shouldn’t do as a provider of DMCA takedown services: make unauthorized use of copyrighted images on your company’s website.
As related on Vice.com, a DMCA takedown service provider that represents at least one fairly major rights-holder was recently shown to have used copyrighted images without seeking the permission of the rights-holders to those images. To say the least, this sort of hypocrisy — intentional or otherwise — sends a bad message to prospective clients, as well as to the general public, once it comes to light.
While the company involved notes that they relied on a third-party web designer to create their site, the developer purchased the images from an “image bank,” and the company was unaware prior to the Vice article that there was any issue with the images, when you offer intellectual property services, you are rightfully held to a higher standard with respect to assuring that your own sites, designs, products, etc, are compliant with intellectual property law.
Mistakes happen, and certainly this shouldn’t be a fatal mistake for the company involved. On the other hand, problems of this sort stemming from design work are pretty well-known among web companies and designers alike, and it’s hard to explain why a company that offers intellectual property rights enforcement services wouldn’t be more attentive to the need for due diligence here.
When notified of the problem, the company reportedly removed the offending images quite quickly, which is a good start. What they haven’t followed through on, at least as of the time of this post, is the promise to provide the rights-holders with the name of the designer and image bank involved, but that information could still be forthcoming.
I’m not sure this incident reveals the sort of mind-bending hypocrisy that the company in question is being accused of in some of the reader comments I’ve perused, but it’s definitely embarrassing, and cause for more than a little uncomfortably bad press.