I just had a conversation with Mr. Gimbel to a) clarify exactly what happened; b) figure out how we can better protect creatives’ rights, and c) offer any assistance with b). I do intend to let this issue rest but had to clarify exactly what happened for avoidance of any speculation that might be damaging to any party involved.
Pay attention again to the fourth paragraph: “We intend to speak to Hublot SA regarding its practices, especially as it relates to its vendor, with the aim to prevent any further false notices.”
It turns out that there was no fraud at all; truth can be stranger than fiction.
Hublot uses a third party vendor to guard its IP and prosecute/ claim against infringers. Fair enough; I’d do the same. The problem is, said third party vendor was either a) not properly instructed, or b) properly instructed but did not bother verifying anything before submitting claims. The onus is once again back on Hublot – as a brand principal, you are responsible for all of those agents representing you – legally or perceptually – because they are acting on behalf of your brand. It is in your interests to ensure that the representation is to your liking since your profitability is directly linked to perceived brand value. Vet your vendors!
Here’s the kicker: it was a copyright infringement related to counterfeiting. This is a surprise to all of us as none of the notifications clarified that point, only specifying ‘copyright infringement’ – given that Flickr is a photo sharing site, the natural assumption is that intellectual property and image rights have been breached. Apparently the third party thought I was engaged in the sale or distribution or manufacture (or otherwise) of counterfeit watches, also possibly (or not) using stolen images. This is funny, because one of the images that got taken down was a photo of the company CEO speaking at that event at which the watches were photographed.
Yahoo admits that they were not as diligent as they should have been, and should have caught this more quickly. They also agree with the suggestions I made in the previous post.
I highlighted the most troubling aspect of all: it’s easy to take down and disrupt, but asymmetrically difficult to restore things if the claims are baseless. Again, Yahoo agreed. I offered my services and the readership to offer feedback any possible policy changes in future, since we represent a good cross section of photographers, ability, domiciles and legal savvy – it is in all of our interests to do so. This gives me some degree of confidence that we won’t find our businesses disrupted by some malicious individuals with no legitimate claims*, either.
To Hublot, well done for responding and taking matters in hand quickly. Possibly not so well done for your vendor instruction or selection.
To Yahoo, well done for responding quickly, identifying and admitting the hole and seriously investigating it. I still think there has to be an additional layer putting the onus of proof on the claimant, plus clear means of contest and redress by the existing rights holder.
To the third party vendor, exercise some common sense in future. It is your business to file notices and do so as quickly, actively and widely as possible, but do your due diligence! I was informed that a) I will be getting your details and b) *there are established provisions in statue that allow all of us to sue for damages for false claims. MT