GoPro sends fraudulent DMCA notice to site that ran a negative review of its products

GoPro, manufacturers of small digital video cameras, sent a Digital Millennium Copyright Notice to a site called DigitalRev, which had compared GoPro's latest camera to Sony's rival Action Video Camera, and concluded that the Sony camera was much better. When GoPro was called on its censorship, the company said,

The letter that was posted next to the review on DigitalRev was not sent in response to the review. Obviously, we welcome editorial reviews of our products. This letter was sent because DigitalRev is not an authorized reseller of GoPro products and they were using images and had incorrect branding and representation of our product in their online commerce store. As part of our program – we ask merchants who are selling our product to use authorized images. That is why DigitalRev was contacted. But – our letter did not clearly communicate this and that is something we will correct.

However, the DMCA cannot be used to remove alleged trademark violations. As the name implies, the DMCA concerns itself with copyright, not trademark (that's why it's the DMCA and not the DMTA), and it is nothing less than fraud to send a DMCA notice over an alleged trademark violation. In other words, GoPro violated the law, and then offered a lame-ass, weak-ola excuse for it. You don't need a trademark holder's permission to use its marks in a review, nor do you need to be an authorized reseller to review products.

As GoPro surely knows.

As a reminder, apparently Sony's Action Video Camera kicks the GoPro camera's ass.

GoPro Uses DMCA to Take Down Article Comparing Its Camera with Rival (Thanks, Paul!)


  1. Interesting. I was looking to buy a GoPro next month based on its popularity.  I had not heard of the Action Video Camera, but it appears to be cheaper (and if the review is to be trusted, better).  I will have to take a look at it instead.  Streisand effect for the win.

    1. Me too.  I was planning to get a GoPro because they were the standard, and don’t really follow things like that enough to know that they had a competitor.     

      1. A buddy of mine brought his Kodak sport/waterproof camera to ToughMudder. It is a little handheld videorecorder, not all cool chest straps and headmounts, but it  performed admirably through 13 miles of rain and mud. He kept it running video the entire time, dunked it in water, mud and what we think might have been an unhealthy percentage of naturally processed hay — it never faltered. If you don’t care about the ‘sexeh mounting options’ factor, it and similar cameras are also worth a look.

        1. Yup! I bought a GoPro to record motorcycle rides through scenic areas. I hate it. So far I’ve had it nine months and I’ve successfully made two videos with it and I’ve missed a large number of beautiful rides’ video because it failed for one reason or another. GoPro has replaced it once, but they are horrific to deal with so now the camera mostly sits in a drawer. I first tried a Looxie camera in it’s place. It made great videos, was small and lightweight, and easy to use. A little too light and small it turned out, and on the third day I had it the wind just blew it off its mount and it hit the pavement behind me and shattered into 1000 pieces. So next I bought one of those Kodak sport/waterproof models–open box from Amazon and it was dirt cheap–and hacked my own mounts with what I could find around the house and at the craft store, and some Sugru and it’s GREAT! I don’t recommend anyone wasting money on GoPro. Biggest waste of $300 in my life.

    2. I too will be examining alternatives. yet another product i wont buy because every company in the world seems to be the actual fucking devil.

      Ironically, the competing device is made by Sony, the company which practically invented DRM and ‘treating customers like criminals who have the audacity to buy and attempt to use one of your products, probably for kiddie porn’ 

      are there any ethical corporations left?

      1. I refused to buy any sony product that featured any of the memorystick cards incarnation. Finally they came to their sences and started using micro sd cards instead.

        1. Watch out if you buy the Sony.  They still have memory stick slots in addition to the SD slot.

          I had one and it took me over an hour and a call to Sony to figure out that the MicroSD slot is also a MicroMemoryStick slot, you put one in one direction, and the other in the other direction.  On my camera the only clue to which way to put it in is a very hard to see icon embossed into the memory cover.  I assumed that if the card goes in, it’s in the right way – that’s how all other products work. But on the Sony the SD card will go in either way, it’s just that only one way works.  The other way gives you a “memory card error.”

          I have a GoPro now.

      2. Consider Looxie. Just be sure you mount it securely. I loved mine until it just blew off its mount on my motorcycle and shattered on the pavement. That or a cheap Kodak waterproof sport cam and make your own mounts. I have a GoPro, but it seldom works right anyway. Since my Looxie blew away I just use a Kodak waterproof sport I got open box really cheap from Amazon.

    3. Another “me too”; I was planning on getting one to capture my motorcycle rides so that I could fantasize on lunch break of escaping my job…. But since they’re being such asshats AND since the very same instance of asshattery provides me with a better alternative, well…. easy decision to make.

    4. >if the review is to be trusted,…
      Key phrase there. There are way too many “pay to play” reviews out there that you really have to look harder than going on a single site’s opinion.

      The Go-Pro Hero is getting good reviews from several credible sites.

      1. Well, real life owner/user of GoPro here and here’s MY review: It sucks! Mine sits in a drawer because it generally fails in the middle of recording a video so I just use a more reliable but less attractive Kodak waterproof sport cam. GoPro is AWFUL to deal with if your camera, like mine, doesn’t work. I also liked Looxie, but mine blew off my motorcycle and was destroyed. HUGE waste of money and grossly overhyped. REALLY crappy camera.

    5. Actually I had the Sony camera, bought a GoPro, and sold the Sony after comparing them.  The Sony may be better for some things, but for my use the GoPro is hands down the winner.  I’m probably going to buy another GoPro soon.

      1. Lucky for you. Mine doesn’t work, and they have replaced it with another non-working camera. $300 camera has successfully made 2 videos in nine months. Big steaming pile of crap if you ask me. The Sony could not possibly be worse.

    1. It does when they use fraud to further their stupidity and incompetence. Aren’t DMCA takedown notices sworn documents?

      1. The problem is the assumption rightsholders would never lie and therefore there needs to be no punishment.

    2.  It’s fraud to submit a legal document under false pretext for gain or to damage another party.

  2. I really hope this wasn’t intentional, but either way, what a great way to get bad PR and earn some good ‘ol fashioned internet hate!

    1.  How ever who is behaving better or worse has nothing to do with the outcome. A review that the majority would miss is now receiving much wider attention.
      What were Go-amateur thinking, greed driven stupidity strikes again.

  3. Other alternative vendors that I’ve seen getting good reviews in the wake of this idiocy:

    Contour Roam (apparently being deeply discounted before an upgrade

    Contour +2

    Drift HD & HD Ghost

    Tachyon OPS HD

    Replay XD

    and a bargain item from Monoprice

    I haven’t used any of these. Honestly, before their meltdown I assumed GoPro was the only supplier in the “action camera” space. Now I’ll never buy another of their products, and my attention has been drawn to the fact that I don’t need to. Thanks, Streisand effect!

    1. I’d already decided against the GoPro. The Drift HD Ghost looks good, and some folks that use it in a similar fashion (helmet mount) have good things to say about it, over the GoPro, specifically in regards to mounting.

    1. That was a big black eye for Sony.  Ironic, since Sony once fought against CD copy protection, back when D.A.T. was first coming on the scene.

      I’ve also been burned by Sony’s lack of adherence to established standards; hardware which require drivers where competing products do not, products engineered to use only Sony power supplies or cables, etc.

      More and more companies are doing similar things, and my purchasing  blacklist keeps growing, but there are still some worthy companies out there.

  4. the Drift HD has been a better product from day one…. but the juggernaut that is GoPro advertising will squash even Sony in this market. for days the gopro was difficult to hook up to a screen to sight the camera. even now the damned thing doesn’t have a dedicated lcd screen.

  5. seems to me like ISPs should be required to verify whether or not the DMCA notices they receive are legit or not before shutting down any content they are hosting. in this case I’d say they fucked up almost if not just as badly as gopro did.

    1. Seems to me that the ISPs could be (or at least should be) charged as accomplices in any legal case that results from a fraudulent takedown notice.

      If ISPs are going to police their paid customers on behalf of Big Content, then the reverse should also be true.

  6. This makes me sad.  I LOVE my GoPro.  Anything else looks difficult to mount.  GoPros have plenty of mounting options, tough as nails, not expensive and just works with everything, which is unique among among tech products. (Have you tried to get a new printer lately?)


    1. I love them too – for the most part. One thing I HATE about them is, like Sony, they love proprietary. Try to find a single GoPro screw mount. Y’know, the mount the rest of the camera world has used for ages, not good enough for GoPro.

  7. I’ve been wanting to buy the new GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition based on great reviews on gadget sites and on the cool specs, including great picture quality, 120 fps HD and wifi preview and control on iOS devices. However the 100+ one star reviews (which out number the five star reviews) cooled my ardor.

    The reviews claim the Hero 3 Black edition has terrible battery life (and, unlike older versions, you can’t use it while charging it, either), a penchant for destroying expensive 64GB micro SD cards, and constant crashes that require multiple hard reboots in the field–which involves undoing the outer case and removing the battery, which is a real pain when you are wearing gloves and the camera is attached to mounts in awkward places.

    If there is one thing you don’t want in an action cam, it is one that crashes all the time. You won’t even know when it isn’t shooting because you aren’t looking through a viewfinder as you are with regular camcorders.

    Many of the reviewers accuse GoPro of knowingly shipping a defective product, and continuing to do so. I’m tempted to think I’ll be different and the one I buy will work fine, but the reviews include people who hoped the same thing and say they got burned.

  8. I have no real stake in this, but as far as I can tell, their reasoning/intention with the letter seems sound to me. The review site was not an authorized reseller and was selling GoPro items with incorrect branding, etc. Their letter was in concern to that, and not the actual review, which as their reply states, they welcome. Sure, a DMCA takedown notice may have been the wrong avenue to pursue in order to straighten out the terms with the review site (in regards to the online commerce matter), but I don’t think they intended for it to seem like they wanted the bad review taken down. Perhaps they weren’t clear enough, and perhaps it was bad timing, but I’d give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

    1. You’d give the benefit of doubt to an expensive team of professional lawyers?

      I’m running a kickstarter campaign to provide a shiny Porsche Carrera 4S to some hungry village children in Borneo.  I will source the vehicle in London and arrange for transport to Borneo.

      Would you please contribute $15,000 for the hungry kids?

  9. When I heard about the sory a couple of days ago, fstoppers wrote:
    “Perhaps the strangest part of it all is that the review highly recommends the Hero3 Black edition is the clear winner between the two.”
    So now, boingboing let’s Sony win the test. Sure, way better story for you.
    Shame on you.

  10. I found the review quite balanced, though I don’t think it stressed enough the fact that those two cameras don’t truly belong in the same category…
    Gopro is a true action cam, designed to be stuck anywhere – hence its flat shape. Sony’s AC is more of a “micro camcorder” with its elongated body and somewhat fiddly plug placement (but at least it has them lol) which makes it ideal for more sedentary uses.
    That being said, I’d prefer to use Sony’s cam for sheer image quality… with Gopro as a backup for really hairy situations.

    1. GoPro isn’t flat. It’s very close to a cube in shape–very awkward. and I can’t trust my GoPro in “hairy situations.” It almost always fails and there is no recording when I’m done. GoPro is way overhyped. It’s a crappy camera.

  11. Behind all of this, there are lawyers.  And inside lawyers, there are sharks.

    I surf, and GoPro is big in that market.  I was thinking of adding a camera to my bag, and GoPro just lost that money.

  12. This is the same thing that happened with the Games Workshop and Space Marine case.  They issued a DMCA takedown notice for a “perceived” trademark infringement.

  13. This is another argument for a “three strikes” law. Three false take down notices should get you barred from asking for take downs permanently. (You’d still be able to get a court order, but not a courtesy take down.)

  14. I’d advice everybody to sell their Gopro gear. This way you get rid of a tainted product and you will prevent a few new units to be sold.

  15. Doesn’t GoPro know that web users hate companies who use DMCA (even if it’s legit)?? Big stinking faux pas! I want to see a full apology on their website like Apple was forced to in the Samsung EU court case.

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