A curious story appeared overnight, one that made Samsung look very foolish. According to anti-copyright activist and blogger Mike Masnick, Google’s YouTube had received a copyright takedown notice from Samsung requesting that game videos featuring the Samsung Note 7 as a weapon be removed.
A few hours later the video was restored – along with many other very amusing Grand Theft videos (in this one, the gamer takes out a helicopter – very impressive work). But not before a host of sites had dutifully copy-and-pasted the story.
Step forward: BBC News, The Verge, The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph. One or two were cautious and put “blocks” in inverted commas, which meant that it may or may not be true, and they didn’t know for sure. Our advice on a Mike Masnick blog post is that if it tells you the sky is blue and the grass is green, you’ll still want to check for yourself.
It isn’t even possible to establish whether there ever was a DMCA notice, let alone – if there was – who sent it. Perhaps someone at YouTube had an itchy finger.
What is certain, however, is that Google is emerging as a major rival in smartphones to Samsung, and hopes to profit from the Korean chaebol’s misfortunes. Google’s first Pixel phones have appeared just in time to take advantage of the Note 7 recall. The recall has seen the Note 7 flagship snuffed out and Samsung estimates the recall will incur $2.3bn in immediate costs. But it could be higher: some forty per cent of Samsung customers say they will not buy another Samsung phone.
Estimates of Google’s marketing expenditure for Pixel run into hundreds of millions of dollars.
This raises the possibility that Google is leveraging the enormous media influence of its video monopoly to help along its consumer hardware business, which – let’s face it – hasn’t exactly set the world on fire (like the Note 7 tried to). And helping that cause is someone already named on Google’s “shill list” – the list of people Google had paid to help the corporate cause. (The latter link provides a useful introduction to Masnick’s modus operandi.)
Perhaps there’s an innocent explanation – and it is all a spooky coincidence. We’ve asked Google for more details on the takedown that may or may not exist, but which if it did, Google is ignoring anyway. We’ll keep you posted. ®