Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Movie Studio Pays to Repost a Banned YouTube Parody...

Figure this one out. Last August, a rock band named Guyz Nite created a YouTube music video using some brief clips taken from the "Die Hard" movies. Despite the fact that the song was titled "Die Hard" and the lyrics professed a worship of the films, 20th Century Fox decided to force YouTube to remove the clip for violating copyright law. This type of thing happens all the time, but what's different in this case is that the studio executives have actually retracted their previous position and not only asked the band if they would please repost their YouTube video, but even paid them to do so.

It doesn't take a genius to get an idea of why the studio changed their minds. With another installment of the "Die Hard" movies releasing this month, the studio came to the phenomenal insight that the YouTube parody might actually help market the film. Rather than losing money due to copyright infringement, they'd make more money by allowing others to use the content in creative ways, marketing the movie through a viral strategy, to great effect, and with little cost.

Cheers to 20th Century Fox to finally coming to this insight, but jeers to them and the rest of the media industry for taking so long to do it. Thousands of similar parodies and brief clips are banned from YouTube every single day under the name of copyright infringement, despite the facts that 1) most are legally protected to remain posted under the Fair Use Doctrine, and 2) they would actually do more to help copyright owners than hurt them.

So the question is: if the Guyz Nite parody helps market the films now, did it not do so in August as well? Apparently, the industry believes copyright infringement is perfectly alright as long as it promotes the original work, and doesn't criticize it. But wasn't copyright law and the Fair Use Doctrine intended to protect our ability to do so? Does anyone else have a problem with this?


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