Warner Bros. Sent Google A Copyright Complaint About Its Own Website

Warner Bros. still wants to make sure you can't watch its several-year-old movies, such as The Dark Knight and Inception, for free

Stop trying to watch old movies online, basically. — Illustration: Diana Quach
Sep 06, 2016 at 5:30 AM ET

Warner Bros. will go to any length to ensure you can’t watch its movies without buying them first, even if it means asking Google to take down its own website.

According to Torrent Freak, Vobile, a California-based anti-piracy company working on behalf of Warner Bros., sent Google a series of copyright complaints on August 18, detailing hundreds of websites allegedly infringing copyright and asked Google to remove them from search results. Among those were links to Warner Bros.’ own website, Amazon, IMDB and a streaming service from Sky where customers can legally watch Warner Bros. movies. The movies named in the takedown notice include The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, The Matrix and Inception.

It’s unclear if Vobile made the complaints by mistake. Vobile and Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to Vocativ’s requests for comment on Tuesday. Google chose not to take action against legitimate links in Vobile’s copyright complaints, but is still investigating the links, Torrent Freak reported.

Vobile has asked Google to take down more than 13.7 million separate URLs, according to Google’s transparency report. The number of requests per week has skyrocketed since July, with a current median of over 40,000 requests a week. On Monday alone, Vobile asked Google to remove 7,800 URLs. Google complied with most of the requests, removing the vast majority from search results.

Some 1.7 million of Vobile’s take down requests were on behalf of Warner Bros. Vobile has also worked extensively with Viacom, Fox, Paramount, and Netflix, to stop what it considers to be copyright infringing content from showing up in Google search results.