Product leaks have almost become a fact of life in the tech news industry, but that wasn’t always the case. Some will probably remember those ugly “anti-leak” cases for smartphone prototypes years back, but “anonymous sources” have become bolder in recent times. It seems, however, that the biggest smartphone makers are no longer taking the status quo sitting down. Following Apple’s lead, Samsung is reportedly issuing copyright strikes against leakers, forcing some to take down previously leaked content.
To be fair, leaks have always been legally gray areas leaning more towards the illegal side of the landscape. Most people working in the tech industry with access to materials, information, and especially devices often sign NDAs to keep silent on internal matters. Some companies might even go as threatening theft against those who expose business secrets to the outside world.
Samsung is using a slightly different strategy, however, and might be targeting only specific kinds of leaks. According to Max Jambor, a.k.a. @MaxJmb from All About Samsung, the company has started invoking copyright laws against leaked images and videos of unreleased products. In a nutshell, they are claiming that these leaks contain copyrighted material and that leakers don’t have any legal right to publish them.
Apple has reportedly started going after leak sources in China last month, and Samsung’s actions could be the start of the Big Tech’s crackdown on those sources. That said, it is also probably a legal grey area whether these leaks do contain copyrighted material, especially if they don’t depict the products themselves. At the very least, aggressively going after certain leaks and not others could become an indicator of whether the leak was accurate or not.
MaxJmb does clarify that the copyright strikes seem to be directed only at sites that posted the leaks, not others that covered those. They also seem to cover only official renders and assets that are leaked before a product’s launch. That still leaves plenty of wiggle room for other leaks or for leaks to spread without a specific source. Given the sometimes chaotic nature of the Internet, it will be interesting to see how far Samsung’s strategy will be able to go.