Disney Forces Takedown Of Star Wars Figure Photos; Realizes Maybe That’s Not A Good Idea

This post on the SWAN Facebook page was hit with a copyright claim by Disney.

This post on the SWAN Facebook page was hit with a copyright claim by Disney.

UPDATE: Within hours of issuing the retraction on the copyright claim, Disney re-sent the same claim to Facebook, this time demanding the removal of the entire post (which didn’t violate copyright to begin with). Not only is the original post gone, but the Facebook user who took the photo is currently under a three-day ban from posting anything to the site.

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We understand the desire for Disney to protect its huge investment in the Star Wars franchise — who knows, maybe the new sequel will only clear a couple billion dollars at the box office. Disney also has a long, long history of being overly protective of its copyright — to the point where no new copyrighted works of any sort will reach the public domain in the U.S. until at least 2019. But to tick off your biggest fans by forcing them to remove legally obtained photos of Star Wars action figures? That’s just plain stupid.

The House that Mickey Built is learning that this week, after it sent takedown notices to Facebook and Twitter over photos posted by fans on social media of new official action figures from the upcoming Force Awakens movie.

The problem, it seems, involves the fact that the even bigger idiots at Walmart started putting out the new action figures early. Thus, when Disney’s copyright bots spotted the images, they freaked out and labeled them as screen shots of “an unreleased figurine for Star Wars: Force Awakens,” according to a DMCA takedown notice posted on StarWarsUnity.net.

Legitimate Twitter posts were deleted because of these takedown demands, and the folks at Star Wars Action News had to remove a completely legal image from their Facebook page.

“A friend texted my husband saying, hey, are you getting sued?” Marjorie Carvalho of SWAN tells Ars Technica about learning of the widespread takedown demands. “We looked and noticed we’d gotten a notice from Facebook saying our image violated copyright. It was confusing because our staff member, Justin, he took the photo.”

And so, even though this was Walmart’s error and Disney has, at best, an arguable copyright claim over someone sharing their photo of a legally purchased action figure online, the company chose to aggravate the franchise’s fan base rather than brush up on fair use law.

“Yes there’s a copyright, but I don’t think that entitles Disney and Lucasfilm to try to make that image disappear from the Internet,” Mitch Stolz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains to Ars. “Someone may have screwed up, and violated an agreement as to when the toys would hit the shelves. But that doesn’t make a photo of a toy forbidden information.”

Someone at the Magic Kingdom must have come to this same conclusion, because the DMCA demand for the photo posted on the SWAN Facebook page has been retracted.

“When we received the notice from Facebook, we e-mailed the Disney e-mail that was included. We received zero response from Disney however sometime overnight the picture was restored to our page,” Carvalho tells Business Insider. “We received an email from Facebook that ‘The reporting party, The Walt Disney Company, has retracted their report.'”

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