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Warner Bros. erroneously flags its website for piracy, asks Google to remove links

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Warner Bros. Studios

In an embarrassing blunder, Warner Bros. asked Google to remove links to its own website, citing piracy violations, as well as legitimate sites like Amazon and the IMDB movie site.

Torrent Freak reported on the request after the takedown demands popped up on Lumen, which collects such request letters. The request, sent by copyright infringement investigation firm Vobile on behalf of Warner Bros on August 18, lists dozens of links. Many of the links include shady-looking piracy sites, as well as Warner Bros.’ own URLs and the official websites of movie franchises like Batman and The Matrix. Other takedown requests included the Amazon Prime page for The Dark Knight.

Vobile is known to be a prolific takedown request filer for its clients. In its transparency reports, Google has shown that the firm has filed more than 13 million complaints with the search engine since 2012. Warner Bros. has yet to comment on this latest round of requests.

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“Warner is inadvertently trying to make it harder for the public to find links to legitimate content, which runs counter to their intentions,” according to TorrentFreak. It appears that Vobile has cast an extremely wide net over URLs that carry references to Warner Bros’ content, deeming them to be copyright violations.

Unfortunately for some websites that get caught up in these requests, these kinds of mistakes aren’t uncommon and there are no real penalties in place for making erroneous claims. Warner Bros. has in the past been sued for carrying out allegedly false takedown requests.

Google was quick to spot the mistakes this time around, and the domains of Amazon and IMDB are not under investigation but the Warner Bros. links aren’t in the clear yet. “Perhaps to make the studio sweat a little” over its mistake, surmised Torrent Freak.