Rotolight (attempts to) Censor Online Review (again)

I want to share just a few great articles circling the Internet about a company called RotoLight and their illegal use of the DMCA takedown notice for customer reviews that they feel doesn't fall in their favor. I advise you to read each article carefully through the links below, but make sure you come back to finish this article. There's a few things, the other blogs haven't covered.

http://nofilmschool.com/2013/07/den-lennie-f-stop-academy-rotolight/
http://blog.matthewmiller.net/2013/08/rotolight-utter-shite.html
http://www.popehat.com/2013/08/01/rotolight-tries-to-unring-the-censorious-bell/
http://notesonvideo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/using-copyright-infringement-claim-to.html
http://www.davelawlor.com/rotolight-uses-dmca-to-claim-infringement-on-review-it-didnt-like
http://boingboing.net/2013/07/30/rotolight-sends-fraudulent-tak.html
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130730/17572624008/rotolight-uses-dmca-to-censor-review-they-didnt-like-admits-to-dmca-abuse-censorship.shtml

Here's Rotolight's interesting response to the recent incident.

In this specific case, the video was not removed for copyright infringement reasons as has been widely reported. Rotolight received external advice with respect to this particular video that it was potentially misleading and unrepresentative. This advice resulted in the only request the company has made to have a video removed from any video sharing website in the last 3 years.

Wait, I want you to focus on that last part - "This advice resulted in the only request the company has made to have a video removed from any video sharing website in the last 3 years."

That's total bull, because this has actually been a practice of RotoLight for at least the last two years. Two years ago, I posted up a video about one user and a UFO camping light who may have mentioned he was making his own DIY RotoLight. [I made the decision at the time to update the article instead of dealing with them, but here's the old post - just check out the comments] Obviously it was a UFO camping LED light, and because of the camparisons, RotoLight commented on this blog and admitted to taking down the users YouTube video:

"FYI, the YouTube Video on which your article relates has been removed due its to defamtory nature, breach of our Registered Trademark and misleading information".

Whoa wait a minute! The DMCA cannot be used for Trademark claims. That was two years ago, and who knows how many other YouTube or Vimeo videos were taken down in that time frame, but I can tell you the recent Den Lennie attempt was not the first. The fact that they are now playing dumb and backtracking as if this was the only DMCA they filed is a load of crap.

Here's a little more food for thought. Their response to the recent incident states: "Rotolight received external advice with respect to this particular video that it was potentially misleading and unrepresentative."

When I received a comment on this blog about the UFO camping light video, it was signed off by Rod Aaron (President). I highly doubt their last attempt was external advice..

"If you have any questions or queries, please contact me anytime on the number or email below.

Best Regards,
Rod Aaron
Rotolight
rod.aaron@rotolight.com
+44 1753 422 744"

I can't remember who's video was removed from YouTube, but if you're reading this I would love for you to comment in this article proving that RotoLight has indeed used the DMCA takedown notice illegally more than once. Any other comments about this recent incident would be great to hear as well.



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20 thoughts on “Rotolight (attempts to) Censor Online Review (again)

  1. andrews

    Streaming service providers quite obviously have a legal responsibility to disallow videos which include trademark infringements and/or false claims

    This may depend on the location of the provider. Here in the US, assuming always that the provider delivers content to more than one state, it has no such duty. Indeed, the S:230 ``safe harbor'' pre-empts any state law liability for failure to remove.

    Things may be different in England, where Rotolight appear to be. They have no First Amendment, and their right to speech is generally recognized as subject to more limitation. The main limit is that it cannot offend the present government, but through their libel tourism industry I suspect that they also limit speech which may offend corporations.

    I am not a lawyer licensed in your state. If you need legal advice, talk to one.

  2. Paul

    @Joel: Now, look into the meaning of the term "literary."

    @marklondon: So the word "evinces" makes you giggle? I think that's the only point you made.

    @Dave: I think it's important to tame the hysteria (unpopular as that is) because artists can get themselves into trouble after all this crowing about a pyrrhic victory. You do mis-state the take-down process at streaming service providers like Vimeo and YouTube. I'll write it again, the D.M.C.A. is one tool in the toolbox for managing rights. Private entities have terms of service for a variety of scenarios that include copyright infringement, but also hate speech and so on. No less, commercial libel, invasion of publicity/privacy and trademark infringement are all fair game.

    It's naive and misleading to keep gloating about how Rotolight filled out that form at Vimeo with villainous and cackling calculation, appropriating the framework of the D.M.C.A. Rather, they just wanted the review to go away. For that, they were wrong, and as I already wrote here, they got their just desserts.

    Y'all are anxious for blood like a Klan rally. Simma down now.

  3. Thanks Emm,
    Will add this to my Cheesycam rejection list and let my fellow filmmakers know as well not to ever buy their products.

  4. Thank you for sharing this information about Rotolight. They committed an illegal act yet it became a lesson not only for them but also for us.

  5. Mike

    The "Claimed" owner of Rotolight is actually "Helen Gammons" on her linked In. ( Info at End of this Comment )

    Her Twitter is all about Rotolight, lobbying for tougher IP Laws AND Her music Seminars
    https://twitter.com/Helen_Gammons

    • She Claims Stronger Copyight Laws are NOT about Silencing Speech LAST YEAR on Twitter
    https://twitter.com/Helen_Gammons/status/160896372667719681
    "Scare mongering by social media sites is wrong, the bills are not to restrict anyones voice, just to stop digital theft. Issues can be resolved."

    https://twitter.com/Helen_Gammons/status/160897311004835842
    "Why is theft in the digital domain different to stealing from a record shop?"

    https://twitter.com/Helen_Gammons/status/160895549732687872
    "Re: SOPA & PIPA digital piracy is not an acceptable social habit its theft. It stops working composers,producers & artists earning a living.

    • She Launched and Runs a Music Distribution Rights Company, Her Tweet
    https://twitter.com/Helen_Gammons/status/31830267576455168
    "Did I mention I'm launching "sync in the city" a music placement company for film and tv. Should be 'live' in a few weeks."

    • The Music Publishers Will Gain Control, Her Tweet
    https://twitter.com/Helen_Gammons/status/31829978861535232
    "Music Publishers have the upper hand if they control both the music and the master and it will bring great success (BMG Rights Management)."

    • A Tweet about her "Music Copyright Seminar"
    https://twitter.com/Helen_Gammons/status/255386446633005059

    • Anti Music Piracy Tweet
    https://twitter.com/Helen_Gammons/status/247622808300052480

    • HUNDREDS of Rotolight Tweets Here's a Few to prove correct Account
    https://twitter.com/Helen_Gammons/status/361201052323815424
    https://twitter.com/Helen_Gammons/status/324240614403211264
    https://twitter.com/Helen_Gammons/status/314062180804882432
    https://twitter.com/Helen_Gammons/status/303596159174332418

    • One of her "Music Seminars" http://www.henley.ac.uk/mba/henley-mba-music-creative-dynamics.aspx

    Helen Gammons actually LECTURES on IP Enforcement Learned from years as a Music Industry Leader and Co-owner in Several Music Publishing houses!

    Tuesday 14 May 2013, 10:21 | By CMU @ TGE
    Artist brands and the challenges of communicating copyright tackled at Great Escape IP-themed sessions

    CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke will lead a debate on the challenges of ‘communicating copyright’, with Sentric Music’s Chris Meehan, Henley Business School’s Helen Gammons, First Column Management’s Phil Nelson and the Music Managers’ Forum’s John Webster.

    http://www.thecmuwebsite.com/article/artist-brands-and-the-challenges-of-communicating-copyright-tackled-at-tge-ip-themed-sessions/

    • A Technorati Article on her Music Lectures http://technorati.com/entertainment/article/henley-business-schools-new-mba-for/

    Helen Gammons Linked In
    Helen Gammons's Overview

    Current
    Programme Director at Henley Business School http://www.henley.com/mbamusic
    CEO at Sync In The City
    Owner / Director at Rotolight.com
    Owner at Planet Video Systems Ltd
    see less
    Past
    Creative Director. at Avex Inc

  6. Emm

    Post author

    @den Lennie - Well, I know at least three people they promised to send units to for testing, and that never happened. A search on Google will turn up many forums in which they promise the same things. It's just part of what they say to try to keep you calm, but don't hold your breath.

  7. Emm, Den - thanks for calling these guys out on the facts. You're both doing a real service to the community. I do my best to post honest reviews on my site, and not all of them are favorable to the manufacturers involved. I really appreciate you for taking the lead on this.

  8. Just for the record, I posted that review video 5 months ago and not 5 months after the effect. Rotolight have confused many of their facts.

    The light was replaced only after I showed them the video in person and it was not an immediate process. The customer received a renewed light a few weeks later and this still displayed green skin tones and he asked for a full refund which he received.

    I was contacted by 3 independent DP's who experienced similar results to me so I published the video.

    I have written personally to Rod Gammons and accepted his apology, However I am yet to hear any direct response and for the record we have not been contacted with the offer of a light.

    Crazy debacle...

  9. Of course they can. And of course that strategy works wonders for the companies PR-image... I mean. Just ask that Streisand-lady. She can tell you all abou what miracles actions like that will bring...wait. no it's the other way around, isn't it? Oh silly me.

  10. "The company goes on to apologize for what it calls “a breakdown in communication between the key parties,” but not without first explaining its side:

    “Due to a simple human error, the light featured in this Video was found to have a minor anomaly in its manual software calibration process, which affected only this particular light. It was immediately rectified and returned to the customer, resolving the issue displayed in the Video. The issue here was not that we simply ‘didn’t like the results’ but that the original test video was posted to Vimeo 5 months after the issue had been rectified, without any reference to this.

    Even if this is the case, however, several news outlets covering the story point out that using a DMCA to take down the review was still wrong.

    As a “gesture of good faith,” the company is donating a $3,000 Rotolight to F-Stop Academy, and has invited them to the company’s Pinewood Studios Office to meet the designer and the Rotolight team. Additionally, The original review has also been restored to Vimeo:"

    https://vimeo.com/60224830#at=3

  11. marklondon

    Paul: "evinces". Ha! I suspect an autodidact rather than an actual lawyer.
    As to the "what would be the point of that?" comment, well that just shows you're an argumentative idiot.

    We got your (belaboured - big words are fun!) point. Its still largely irrelevant in this particular discussion.

    Rotolight used the lazy expediency of a company's copyright enforcement protocol to silence a critic in direct violation of free speech. You either agree or no.

    Leave your "indications" where the sun don't shine. I hate to speak so plainly to such an erudite man, but I can think of no better phrase.

  12. Joel

    Paul - The definition of a red herring is "a seemingly plausible, though ultimately irrelevant, diversionary tactic" ... which is exactly the literary device you employed in your silly post.

    Streaming service providers quite obviously have a legal responsibility to disallow videos which include trademark infringements and/or false claims. However, this is not the case here, so why inject it into the discussion? Your claim that there exists a "unilateral presumption" otherwise is ultimately irrelevant and unsubstantiated.

    Also, your statement "it’s much more fun to crow about fighting the powers that be" actual belittles the real issue at hand and minimizes the importance of bringing this subject to the attention of consumers.

  13. Paul - I have seen your argument posted a few places so I take it your the same person making it. Yes there are other laws that cover certain things, but the fact is they didnt use or pursue the laws. You seem to be missing the point that none of those other laws have automatic take down provisions like DMCA does with one email. That is the point here, if they had gone after the video on other local laws (very confusing in this case because both parties are in UK, while Vimeo is a NY based company I believe), which local laws are applied?

    So you can talk about all the other methods in the world why a video should be taken down and in fact they may have a legal right on those basis, but the fact is Rotolight used a DMCA notice when they should not have and that is the cause for the uproar.

  14. Paul

    Joel: Oversensitive. As my first sentence indicates, Rotolight overstepped. And they're getting their just desserts.

    The wrong presumptions I've referred to are ubiquitous and, yes, almost unanimous. I'm not limiting my thoughts to the world of Cheesycam -- what would be the point of that?

    Lastly, your use of the term "red herring" evinces an illiteracy to that logical meaning.

  15. joel

    Paul ~ It seems your comment is a bit off base and, for that matter, inappropriate with regard to the issue of one, heavy handed manufacturer caught trying to protect its brand by using unethical tactics.

    I do not see anywhere in this discussion evidence of "a unilateral presumption that online video streaming service providers have no legal obligation (and no internal policy) to respect trademarks" as you generalized.

    I first saw the PetaPixel article this morning [ http://bit.ly/1bSnKhW ] and - due to the seemingly innocent comments by the Company -- came away thinking it was much ado about nothing ... until I read Cheesycam's post.

    His experience not only corroborates Rotolight's history of squashing 1st amendment rights, but also shed's light on their attempt to cover up their shameful business practices as well.

    Yours is a "red herring" argument and leads me to believe you must be trolling with your own personal agenda.

  16. marklondon

    I was shocked by their actions with Dan. Shocked.
    They have really shot themselves in both feet here.

  17. Paul

    Damning corroboration and advances the story more than all that noisy commentary out there.

    But, note that the bad effect of this news hysteria has been a unilateral presumption that online video streaming service providers have no legal obligation (and no internal policy) to respect trademarks -- no less, claims to invasion of privacy/invasion of publicity/commercial libel. In fact, they do, and 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, but there are others.

    I'm sure people will keep ignoring that nuanced reality, though, to their detriment (because it's much more fun to crow about fighting the powers that be)...

  18. Bobkat

    Rotolight really cut a sad picture in the age of social media. Somebody tell them these r no longer the times of talk down communication with big companies. They need a good social media strategist otherwise they are in for some big losses in the future, starting with me right now.

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