News Station Falls For April Fool's Prank, Turns to DMCA As Remedy

from the take-downs-don't-actually-make-things-go-away dept

Improv Everywhere, a comedic performance art group based in New York, has a history of pulling off hilarious and impressive "scenes of chaos and joy." Running "missions" such as the annual "No Pants Subway Ride," a food court musical, sending 80 people into Best Buy dressed as employees and getting 200 people to "freeze" during rush hour in Grand Central station, these guys are masters of the flash mob and the harmless prank. Last April, in a mission called "Best Game Ever," they showed up at a little league baseball game with signs, peanut vendors, programs and even an NBC sponsored jumbotron with live commentary and player stats to turn an ordinary event into something extraordinary.

Building on that theme, Improv Everywhere's latest mission was to create the "Best Funeral Ever," to pick a random funeral from the obituaries and show up to make it "truly awesome." It sounds terrible, and the video is pretty horrifying... until you realize it's from April 1st. The next day, they confirmed it was an April Fool's joke and that it wasn't a real funeral -- all of the "family members" were actors. Lots of people fell for it (I definitely did at first), but best of all was the local CW 11 news team that covered the YouTube video as if it were a real funeral. Charlie Todd, founder of Improv Everywhere, uploaded a video of the newscast with the following commentary:
So basically the extent of their reporting is watching a video on YouTube and then describing it as fact on air. They didn't bother to email Improv Everywhere for comment, call the cemetery to verify, or try to get a quote from the"family." They just watched the video and threw it on TV. Great journalism!
The story was on the news channel's website too, but was later removed without any explanation or correction. Now, two weeks later, Todd has received a copyright notice from YouTube that his video of the newscast was removed due to a copyright claim from Tribune (the station's parent company). First of all, it's pretty silly to try to hide the mistake rather than owning up to it and posting a correction (Streisand Effect anyone?). But beyond that, it's pretty ironic and hypocritical that the news organization, which used the Improv Eveywhere video without permission or even proper attribution, would send a take-down notice to the owner of the that video who was commenting on their commentary. Todd writes,
It's OK for them to air content that we shot and own, but it's not OK for me to upload their footage of the content they took from me? It's "fair use" for the news to take a video off of YouTube and broadcast it, but it's not "fair use" for a citizen to expose their poor reporting on his own content?
Fair use or not, Tribune just found a great way to draw more attention to the fact that their "journalists" fell for the prank and seem to be pretty embarrassed about it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 10:55am

    Hello, Streisand Effect.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Tgeigs, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 11:02am

    In related news...

    "it's pretty ironic and hypocritical that the news organization...would send a take-down notice to the owner of the that video who was commenting on their commentary"

    In related news:

    1. The United States UN Ambassador repeated previous requests today that Iran and N. Korea suspend their nuclear weapons programs, claiming, "Non-proliferation of nukes are in everyone's interest. After all, we all know the more nukes you have, the more evil you are." He apparently overheard the several others snorting milk through their noses, because he quickly added, "Well yeah, we have them, but it's not like we'd ever USE them", at which point the Japanese Amabassador calmly stood from his chair, shouted "Shariuken", shot a slow moving fireball from the palms of his hands and incinerated the US Ambassador.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    spaceman spiff, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 11:05am

    Sue them buggers!

    [rant]I hope they sue the Tribune for copyright infringement for using their video without permission or attribution. Turn about is fair play. If they cannot play by the rules of "Fair Use", let them pay the price in $$![/rant]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    yozoo, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 11:12am

    This is modern journalism

    We now hold Oprah and the Daily Show to the same "journalistic" standards we expect from shows labeled as news . . . which is to say none. Is this really what we want, are they really giving us what WE want? if so, I dont see how anyone could be optimistic about our country?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Grady, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:03pm

    This isn't the first time (nor the last time) Techdirt has covered a story like this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Zaven, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Idiots of the World Unite

    Idiots of the world unite! Oh wait they already did that. They're called journalists and they've formed into groups where they watch youtube and collegehumor clips then talk about them with their peers.


    Wait, is that a journalist or a immature teenager? I get these things confused all the time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Alias (profile), Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:08pm

    One Word...

    awesome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    I think technically it *is* the last time, until it happens again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    David T, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:22pm

    It's not about fair...

    ... it's about who has the most lawyers on staff.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Veritas, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:23pm

    Re: This is modern journalism

    The Truth is the goal, not some romantic ideal of "journalism".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    WarOtter (profile), Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re:

    Oh snap, a semantics showdown!

    FINISH HIM!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Quickly Grady us your C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-COOOOMBO BREAKER!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Not A Prank, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Idiots of the World Unite

    Is it coincidence that most "journalists" are liberals? I think not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re: This is modern journalism

    "The Truth is the goal, not some romantic ideal of 'journalism'."

    I dont disagree?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Improv Everywhere should demand the TV station turn over the revenue for the portion the broadcast they misappropriated as 'news'.

    BTW WierdHarold, What happened to the editors and fact checkers that allegedly make mainstream media so much more valuable than these blogging hacks on the internet?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    TheStuipdOne, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Sue them buggers!

    hmm ... I don't know the legality of using their entire video for commentary, but it looks like both groups did the exact same thing. If I were a judge then I'd say that Tribune's actions in sending the takedown clearly expresses that this is copyright violation. Therefore Tribune should be fined (or otherwise punished) for using IE's video. Either that or they should be fined for filing a false takedown.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    SuperSparky, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:47pm

    Journalism died about three decades ago. It's about time people have just started realizing this. Journalism is now "propegandism". Everything is reported with an agenda or end goal in mind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If there is no reply quickly it will be a:
    HUMILIATION!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:51pm

    These are pretty funny stunts, but depending on the day, if they did this in Penn Station, I might just have wanted to punch some of these "freezers".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Matt T., Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:54pm

    Re:

    Zing!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Osno, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 12:56pm

    But then we have the AP telling us how we need these publications because we won't have investigative journalism without them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 1:24pm

    Grow a backbone!

    Sounds like this journalist is overly self conscientious.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Me, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Idiots of the World Unite

    Think that huh? What about the "journalists" at Fox News whose dick you clearly suck?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Crabby (profile), Apr 15th, 2009 @ 1:28pm

    Re:

    ROFLMAO

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Tgeigs, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Idiots of the World Unite

    Stop spreading lies. Everyone knows that Fox News' Dicks were taken away from them by Karl Rove long ago, hence no one can be sucking them but him.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 1:56pm

    Re:

    To this, I must disagree. I do not believe there really ever has been a "golden era of journalism". I suspect that news agencies have always had their bad apples, it is just that today we are able to find out about them much more easily.

    Same goes for "violent crimes". They aren't happening more (in fact, they are happening less), but we're hearing about them way, way more because of the wide availability of news these days (CNN has to fill those 24 hours somehow, so they play 3 months straight about some blond college kid that disappears while on vacation).

    It just *seems* worse these days.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    danny (profile), Apr 15th, 2009 @ 2:21pm

    any copies of the news video floating out there?

    I hope someone has a copy and that it spread virally so that it is impossible for the Tribune to remove it completely.

    If so, send a copy to me and it goes up on my blog! And send a copy to WikiSecrets while you are at it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Lee, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    PRESS START
    TO
    CONTINUE?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Jason, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Grow a backbone!

    HAHA! Was that intentional or just serendipity?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Grady, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 5:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry, had to ask my mommy for more quarters, but she said that the game is just melting my brain and causing me to have violent urges.

    But yes, you're right, at the moment it is the last time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    RockDJ, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 11:57pm

    Hack

    This is generally what's known in the trade as hack journalism.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 12:03am

    Re: One Word...

    Re: One Word...awesome

    Are you referring to the fake funeral that was deemed suitable for broadcast during the news program or are you talking about the little league baseball game given the big league treatment?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Dan, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 1:21am

    Someone needs to forward this to Maureen Doud, it might help her understand why the print media is swirling in the toilet bowl.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:18am

    Re: This is modern journalism

    Erm actually I hold the Daily Show to a higher standard than most news outlets

    Their news is usually factually accurate and well researched where it's important - the bits which are just made up comedy are clear and the whole thing is presented in a manner which actually manages to avoid being condescending

    I don't disagree that this is appaling - the fact that a comedian routinely provides a better news service than the combined might of the media is disgusting. But don't blame the comedian...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Andrew Fitzgerald, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:37am

    Re: Re: One Word...

    I believe that word applies for both, more so for the little league game.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Andrew Fitzgerald, Apr 16th, 2009 @ 2:39am

    Re: any copies of the news video floating out there?

    It's on the Improv Everywhere site, linked in the article... short, but still entertaining. http://improveverywhere.com/2009/04/14/cw-11-files-copyright-claim/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Seltzer Junior, Apr 17th, 2009 @ 12:22pm

    Somehow I don't think this is the way to make a humiliating journalistic gaffe disappear.
    Booooo to the Tribune. Improv Everywhere had you and you are embarrassing yourselves for a second time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Apr 20th, 2009 @ 7:20am

    Hello, Streisand Effect.

    Yeah, I'm gonna look for it as soon as I get home and can get to YouTube or other video sites - YouTube's been too censor happy lately.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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