WordPress gets thousands of takedown requests per day from rights-holders asserting that a user is in breach of copyright; and unlike some other internet companies (which outsource or just wave the requests through), they take the time to assess and follow up on all of them. It’s a good thing they do, because about half of the requests are ultimately rejected.
From these rejected requests, WordPress has built their Hall of Shame; a series of blog posts where they name and shame companies who try to squash free speech or limit creativity (for example, trying to stop someone from criticizing their work). This truly brilliant collection of stories is thoroughly entertaining and informative; a great place to start for anyone trying to understand how trademark law works with regards to blogging, and how far its reach extends.
The latest entry into the Hall of Shame belongs to automotive giant Subaru, who tried to have a WordPress site with the Subaru in the URL and multiple references to their brand taken down.
While you’ve got to appreciate Subaru’s dedication to protecting their trademark…they should probably have done a little more research before submitting the takedown notice. Turns out the owners of the blog were applying for Leave No Trace/Subaru’s traveling trainer program, and were simply trying to meet Subaru’s request for applicants who can produce Subaru-promoting social media content through blogs, videos and photos.
Copyright and trademark law can be a minefield, so it’s worth knowing your rights and doing your research before you issue, or respond to, a takedown request. This Australian article is a good place to start (note: there’ll be some variations from country to country), but as a rule of thumb: reasonable evaluation and discussion should always be the first step. If you aren’t sure, ask somebody – there’s plenty of services (or even law students needing experience or content for their essays) who would be willing to take a look for you. If you really think your intellectual property has been lifted, send the person a polite message first (they may be ignorant of the law themselves – not an excuse, but an indication that they may be willing to remove the image or that section of their content as an act of reparation and goodwill). If that doesn’t work, take it to WordPress; if again, you’re polite, reasonable and show you’ve done your research, they’ll go above and beyond to help you out.
As we said, the Hall of Shame is, above all things, thoroughly entertaining – check it out here.