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If a Company Doesn't Like a Product Review, Should They Be Able to Take it Down?

07.30.13 @ 6:19PM Tags : , , , , ,

Den Lennie F-Stop AcademyThat’s exactly what happened to Den Lennie of F-Stop Academy, even though they owned all of the equipment in the review. He posted a review of the Rotolight Anova, Dedo Softbox, and Kino Flo Celeb, and while the review had been up for some time, one of those companies was not happy with the result. They issued a DMCA takedown notice to Vimeo, and the video was removed. Check out Den’s video below for the explanation:

After responding that they did not think the testing procedures were fair, Rotolight posted this on Den Lennie’s Facebook:

We would be delighted for you to do a side by side comparison of our light, all that we would kindly ask is that we are given the opportunity to ensure that the camera and lighting are setup correctly to ensure a fair and representive result. We have no problem with it being an independent test, i have sent you my mobile number via PM and i hope you’ll take us up on that offer.

We have had many in depth reviews of the colour and output of the Anova, including the Canadian Society of Cinematographers who specifically said (under test conditions similar to yours) “Many lights, especially LEDs, produce a spiky spectrum or have large chunks of spectrum missing, but the Anova showed a nice smooth gradation through the whole visible light spectrum, which in turn means rich, beautiful and natural colour rendition in the subjects you are shooting” (

You are completely right, we should have just contacted you directly to arrange the re-test rather than acted via Vimeo, please accept our sincere apologies for that. We of course have no issue at all with you posting the results of the re-test all we wanted was just to ensure the test was representative, there was nothing more to it than that.

I realize there are millions of videos, but the burden of proof should be on the person requesting the takedown, otherwise what would stop anyone from trying to pull down any video they don’t like — for any reason? That isn’t too far from YouTube’s policy – they’d rather take it down quickly and figure it out later than leave it up and let the person issuing the DMCA notice prove why it should come down (though YouTube does give more options to copyright holders to actually benefit from the infringing video). This is the way the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) handles these issues, where companies can issue them at any time and get quick results, letting the real proof be sorted out later. That’s what happened in the GoPro/Digital Rev debacle a few months back, where a review was taken down for bogus reasons (but later restored).

If a company really wants to control their image, should they be able to submit takedown notices for every bad review on the internet? Even if someone is posting a video just to cause trouble, should their free speech not be protected?

I think it’s important to note that in my history at NFS, we’ve never once had a company approach us because they didn’t like what we had to say, and that includes advertisers who we have freely criticized while they had ads running on the site. People are always going to complain about something, but if you make good products and have quality customer service, the positive voices will more than likely drown out the few negative ones.

What do you think about all of this? Would you do a re-test as Den says he will, or would you stick by the original review?


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  • Well, this outlines many strange, interesting and scary facts.
    It reminds me of all those P2P downloads on various file sharing sites, which have been on for decades, and how, multi-million and billion enterprises, finding school kids, to send to jail, for copyright violations. The kids are small fries, and, whereas famous hollywood directors and producers, as well as famous singers get away with Very Obvious copyright infringement, these kids are made victims, of obviously terrible copyright laws, in most countries, around the world.
    The difference here, which makes it even more unfair, and thus, more scary, is the fact, that there was no notice sent, to the reviewer, and no reasons posted or stated, and he was not even allowed the opportunity, of giving his side of the story. This is a complete breach of Natural Justice, and Fair Play. If anything, I think, BOTH Vimeo and Rotolight are Liable for Damages, for many things (including Defamation, lack of fair play, muzzling Constitutional Right’s of Free Speech, maybe even damage to business and business reputation etc etc).
    I think, its high time, big corporations are pulled up, for ‘Bullying’.
    I am COMPLETELY with ‘Den Lennie’, on this, and I also congratulate him, for taking a stand, while completely maintaining his dignity. This is OUTRIGHT DISGUSTING.

  • Robolight “stepped-on-their-dick” … BIG time. Talk about BAD publicity for their company. Without their DMC take-down, I’d never have heard of this … now everyone the ‘net knows that their LED has an alleged BAD green spike. This is a classic case of the Law-of-Unintended-Consequences.

  • I woild like to voice an opinion, not because I think, or am implying, that it applies to this case here, but because of a general problem of use of legal requests and threats on the internet and in general, at times misused impropperly. This shoild not be taken as legal advice, but general comment on law reform. Therefore it bus not a substitute for proper legal advice, and proper adequate legal advice should still be sought. Forgive the errors, from my mobile:

    Legal requests can be bluff to get the other party to comply. It forces the other party into costs to seek legal advice, stress, time and hassle. If they try to take it to court then this increases to the best level. In my opinion, the party issuing the request should go through the hasle of proving their request, and preferably, in a case of a request to a third party, through taking the second party to court and proving it there first, and if applicable, getting the judge to issue the request. Still an opinion, but all other illegitimate bluff requests, that would have no basis, which are used, should be illegal, the matter reported to the various legal and government bodies overseeing misconduct and those accrediting. Further to this opinion, I think laws should be passed with jail time for deliberately trying to bluff/intimidate, as this conduct goes greatly against people’s human rights, liberty, freedom of speech, cost and justice. As said above, I’m not implying this is the case here, but just commenting on the general area.

    A company in vimeo’s situation, that I imagine could possibly be sued by the owner of the content for taking it down, could seek legal advice on the legalities and what they should do, and what the other parties should do, and advise the sender of any request what the other party should obtain before they will take it down, likely go through the expense of getting a court order first (as I think some companies already require) and that through proving it against the second party that posted the content. As it is a member oriented company they could also advise the content poster of this so the poster can fight it in court if they wish (courts should be robust enough to require one part to adequately prove something beyond doubt or base without requiring the participation or cost of the second or third party, to which they could then object too and if desired take it to another full court case if they wish, but I did say “should” not that it already is that way. These proceadures would greatly improve the delivery, speed, efficacy and cost of justice, with extra emphasis of proof and initial cost on the party initiating action (that latter can be reclaimed), thus reducing the volume of action. But these are only wishes.

  • Matt Stevens on 08.1.13 @ 11:22AM

    Looks like one company has lost me forever.

  • This is a clear misuse and misinterpretation of the law. I’ve been a creative for over 30 years, a lawyer for 13 years, and a communications law professor for 2 years. The free speech clause of the U.S. constitution trumps the DMCA, if it even applies here. Review and critique are especially protected under U.S. law. The manufacturers actions were wrong, the DMCA misapplied, and Vimeo’s actions weak.

    That said, a service such as Vimeo has every right to contractually limit your use of their service, which is something they have likely done in their terms of use. So perhaps the real solution is to use a service that is unable to misuse such force against your creative expression. Perhaps using S3 (Vimeo is built on top of S3 anyway) is the way to go or some other content-agnostic service.

    The whole incident is simply a shame.

  • If a Company Doesn’t Like a Product Review, Should They Be Able to Take it Down?

    My answer here is the company should take the product review. If they have a good product, they wouldn’t worry about taking down their customer, or critic’s reviews.

    And if the company really has a nasty product, it should be taken as a lesson.

  • Funny enough, I can’t even get to – their site seems to be down.

  • A 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 they 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 this nuanced reality, though, to their detriment (because it’s much more fun to crow about fighting the powers that be)…

    • Well it would help if you were making a valid point.
      No-one is arguing your first point. In this case, those tools were misused (primarily through laziness/expediency) to cut off free speech. That’s not ‘fighting the power’. Its protecting unassailable rights. Seems fair to me.

      Its a total disaster for Rotolight. Their products were always a tad prosumer, and they were trying to become more professional. Well, they’ll need a killer new product to overcome this.

    • I do not say they should not have right to take action against a deliberately wrong bad review, in the right way. The argument has been on the validity of the tool they used, and wherever they should have used it instead of a more gentle and useful way. As for service providers, blanking out offending parts might bring it’s own legal issues (just remember, parts of a terms of use agreement might be “boiler plate clauses” with no current standing under law, and bluff, so can’t cover all things) but they could contact the video poster, to do so, or get permission for the service provider to do it,, while leaving the video up, or temporarily locking out as “Under Discussion”. If they all did these sorts of thingsthese ways iinstead, the legal situation in this sort of businesses could be improved ten times.

      As for the suggestion that trademarks etc could be used to take down reviews. I’m sure also, if people start blanking out all trademarks and names, including in audio, replacing them with terms like “Unnamed product, from unnamed company, that wishes their trademarks with held from this review because they don’t like it” with short versions all over the place over the blanked out bits, that companies would think a bit, after a while before trying this. I also think that reviewers who might want to unjustly damage a company will also think a bit before doing this to hide behind, after companies still take action on the correct grounds against deliberately wrong reviews.

  • Seriously? Never give business to a company that will stoop to this. Never never never.

    If they’re willing to lie and cheat to get good reviews, where else are they going to lie and cheat?

  • This is, after Litepanels, the next manufacturer of LED lights that I’d rather not buy from in the future.

    If they claim to be the first manufacturer to deliver true full-spectrum LED lights, they must be aware that a lot of people are going to test that claim very thoroughly.

  • Rotolight have announced a new Range of Rotolight ANOVA V2 LED EcoFlood’s. Recently tested out on a shoot by BBC Lighting Cameraman/DoP Mark Langton here’s the video shot with a Sony F5 Camera on a controlled set and used with mixed traditional tungsten bulbs.
    Den Lennie checked out the New ANOVA’s at IBc 2013 and said “New @Rotolight ANOVA V2 is V impressive. Great Colour output. Look forward to using it. G8 upgrade for existing V1 Owners too”

    Den Lennie and Hollywood DoP Rodney Charters will be testing them out shortly. Check out Rodney Charters interview discussing the recent publicity and the new ANOVA’s

    Find out more about the Rotolight ANOVA upgrade programme

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