Lobbying Group Issues Takedown For Parody Political Ads By Student Group

from the hello,-fair-use dept

Well, we're just about done with election season, but there's still plenty of time for more bogus DMCA takedowns. The latest comes from a lobbying group called "Citizens Against Government Waste." As you can expect with most groups that call themselves "Citizens Against" something, the group tends to focus on issues that favor corporations, rather than citizens. Anyway, they put together a somewhat silly advertisement for the election that not only mocked the US for its stimulus spending, but suggested that smug Chinese people would mock us in 20 years because of it. Here's the original ad:
Another group, called Campus Progress, which is (actually) a student political group took the CAGW video, which involves a guy speaking Mandarin, and put different subtitles on it, parodying the original commercial to have it pretend to say something entirely the opposite of the original message. You can see it here:
Now, Campus Progress had originally posted the video on YouTube, but CAGW issued a DMCA takedown notice over it claiming it was copyright infringement. Amazingly, a spokesperson for CAGW told Politico that they totally understand parody, but this isn't parody:
"We love parody as much as anyone (I was a huge fan of the Downfall series myself), but what Campus Progress did was not 'parody,'" she emails. "They basically hijacked the and adulterated it to help raise money for themselves. We have already asked YouTube to remove it b/c it is a copyright violation."
Uh, huh? Say what? First of all, this video is even more of a parody than the Downfall videos, which don't even comment on the original video. The Campus Progress video is clearly commenting on the original video and is obviously parody (what else would it be?). To claim that it's a copyright violation is also ridiculous. They put this video out as an advertisement. It's not like someone is going to see the second ad and decide that it's a suitable substitute for the first. There's no competent reason to issue a takedown except that CAGW doesn't like what Campus Progress has to say. Now, I don't care where you stand on this political debate (personally, I think both are over-exaggerating and over-simplifying a complex issue); it's pretty ridiculous to use copyright law in this manner.

Of course, it's also totally backfiring on CAGW in that this bogus DMCA takedown is of course only serving to drive that much more attention to the parody they don't want people to see.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 8:01am

    We should start a new calender.

    Year 1 A.D.(After Democracy) LoL

     

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  2.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 8:01am

    Civil Rights

    It would be nice to see someone challenge bogus DCMA takedowns based on denial of civil rights.

     

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  3.  
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    Jim Harper (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 8:13am

    There's Plenty of Astroturf to Go Around

    Campus Progress is organized by the Center for American Progress, a left-wing think-tank/activist group in Washington, D.C. I'd wager that there are more citizens associated with Citizens Against Government Waste than students associated with Campus Progress.

    This says nothing about the copyright merits. I'm just saying there's no need to over-flavor the story with a David and Goliath theme that probably doesn't bear up.

     

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  4.  
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    The eejit (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 8:46am

    Re: There's Plenty of Astroturf to Go Around

    It's not that; it's that the CAGW comes across now as humorless fucktards. And perception is everything, these days.

     

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  5.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 8:46am

    Re: There's Plenty of Astroturf to Go Around

    Either way it's clearly a parody and the wording changes over the same backdrop also place it in the category of satire.

    Oh, and by the way, when did university students cease to be citizens? At least the majority of them who would be U.S. born and bred.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Patrick, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 8:59am

    Bah

    The DMCA thing was misguided and stupid. But the author needs to leave his partisan politics out of our dirt please.

     

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  7.  
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    Terada (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 9:07am

    Parody is the best form of flattery.

    I choked on my coffee watching the parody version. CAGW should be flattered that someone would want to make a parody. Suppressing oppositional views and claiming copyright only makes them look like sore losers. To understand the parody, people would need to watch the original video. CAGW is missing out.

     

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  8.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 9:22am

    Re: Civil Rights

    It would be nice to bring honesty in advertising to the justice system.

    Got a problem with an irrevocable constitutional right? "There's a precedent for that." (TM)

     

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  9.  
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    Kingster (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 9:26am

    Re: Bah

    I must have missed the partisan politics in the article, Patrick. And... Last I checked it's not YOUR dirt... It's his.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Vigo, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 9:26am

    Re: Bah

    Agreed! No matter which way the political opinions falls, I can do without them on an article about DCMA. The article will feel far more objective without political views in it. Especially when there is such a strong objective statement to begin with.

     

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  11.  
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    Pierre Wolff (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    Not sure about parody

    Until seeing the video here, I had not seen the CAGW version. Had my first viewing been the one of the Campus Progress version, I wouldn't have known that it was a parody and just thought it was their video. Since I don't speak Chinese, I'd have no other hint to suspect that this was a take off on another video. Regardless of the politics here, to the extent that there's only a limited viewing of the video, it's easy to mistake the parody version as the original and hence I do see some grounds for infringement, at least as far as things currently stand.

     

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  12.  
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    quickbrownfox, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 9:32am

    The Streisand effect is alive and well.

     

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  13.  
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    Vigo, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Bah

    I must have missed the partisan politics in the article, Patrick. And... Last I checked it's not YOUR dirt... It's his.

    You must just be used to it from all the partisan politics in mainstream media to begin with. The second and third sentence in the story are both very obviously political opinions.

    And yes, this is OUR dirt. Without us, the fans, there would be no Techdirt. You think Mike pulls everything from the clouds? This is a community that Mike put together here.

     

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  14.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Bah

    Actually, I feel that Mike skated around the politics of what both videos deal with quite nicely.

    I'd read it again if I were you particularly where Mike says "Now, I don't care where you stand on this political debate (personally, I think both are over-exaggerating and over-simplifying a complex issue);" a point I agree with.

    And where's Mike's politics in that?

    To top it all off, Techdirt has never claimed to be an "objective" news source. It's, by and large, Mike's commentary on events related events he's noticed and is interested in and that his audience. One in which he regularly expressed opinions.

    If it offends your political stance that's too bad.

     

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  15.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 10:02am

    Re: Bah

    The DMCA thing was misguided and stupid. But the author needs to leave his partisan politics out of our dirt please.

    I did. I didn't side with either of them and said both commercial over simplified things.

     

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  16.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Bah

    "The second and third sentence in the story are both very obviously political opinions."

    To anyone experienced in the "art" of electioneering realizes that the closer you get to the poll date the more you enter into the silly season of political advertising. The point of it is to keep the base energized and to drag in as much of the fringe as you can.

    And to say the third sentence is political is to deny the history of "Citizens Against" groups being funded by large corporate groups in the same way as you can expect other groups to be funded by other special interest groups. That's a fact, has been and will be. Nothing wrong with that either.

    Everyone's free to do as they will but an electorate wise to these things is a better educated one and more likely to cast their vote based on other criteria.

    "And yes, this is OUR dirt. Without us, the fans, there would be no Techdirt. You think Mike pulls everything from the clouds?"

    Well, he pulled you from the Cloud didn't he?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 10:21am

    I gotta say, is it parody if you simply replace the text of the video but keep everything else (music, actors, video) verbatim?

    In other words, they have a point. They should be creating at least SOME of their own content (I didn't find the overlaid text very clever at all either. Surely they could do better than that?)

     

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  18.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    They should be creating at least SOME of their own content

    You're right... most writers get way too much credit than they deserve. We need to ignore them more.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: There's Plenty of Astroturf to Go Around

    Depends, if you go to the class with lawyers and art students that don't need to think much there is probably were most Americans born and bred are if you go to engineering they are all foreigners probably specially if they are getting PhD's :)

     

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  20.  
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    Kingster (profile), Oct 25th, 2010 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Bah

    You must just be used to it from all the partisan politics in mainstream media to begin with. The second and third sentence in the story are both very obviously political opinions. And yes, this is OUR dirt. Without us, the fans, there would be no Techdirt. You think Mike pulls everything from the clouds? This is a community that Mike put together here.
    Second sentence: The latest comes from a lobbying group called "Citizens Against Government Waste." Hmmmm... Yep. That's definitely a political opinion there... Wait. How? The third sentence: As you can expect with most groups that call themselves "Citizens Against" something, the group tends to focus on issues that favor corporations, rather than citizens. I can see where you're saying that... But I would suspect that it is CAGW's arguments against open source software that REALLY pisses Mike off... Have a look at the SourceWatch page.

    And no. It's not your TechDirt. Mike might just write this for his own sanity - not yours. Just because there is a "community" here, doesn't change the fact that this is TechDirt's article. Not yours. And your comment is TechDirt's, as is mine.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    Welcome to the new election paradigm

    The Tea Party Movement is like a big chicken that lays big fat solid eggs made of solid fuck. They took the Republican fear media strategy, secret outsourcing donors money, and ate it all with a lump of unregulated e coli. Now they're spraying it out of their asses onto TVs across the country at 300 miles per hour.

    I can't support the Republicans or Tea Partiers. First, most of you smell like mothballs, all of you are racist, you torture horses, and you're all fans of "The Bangles."

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Any Mouse, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: There's Plenty of Astroturf to Go Around

    Depends on the school, now, doesn't it? Because I can say with fair authority the university in my city has more foreign-born citizens in the medical and law classes.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 6:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Bah

    And to say the third sentence is political is to deny the history of "Citizens Against" groups being funded by large corporate groups in the same way as you can expect other groups to be funded by other special interest groups. That's a fact, has been and will be. Nothing wrong with that either.

    I would have to argue you are wrong there, for two points.
    First, I was talking about connotation, not denotation as you only see. Mike stated that the group focuses on favoring corporations, not citizens, indirectly pointing out that the group itself is dishonest or at the very least convoluted about what they are. Then goes on to say they put out a silly ad mocking the US.

    I'm sure Mike didn't try to show he is taking a side, but it comes off that way, and I think it detracts from the issue -- which is a strong enough argument in itself.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Joseph Schumpeter, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 6:31pm

    Here's Campus Progress's website.

    http://www.campusprogress.org/

    Why aren't they bitching / hosting their own copy of the video now that GOOGs has knuckled under?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Vigo, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 6:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bah

    My Second point, (which I forgot to include) is that I really don't see that many groups out there called "citizens against" that are corporate groups. I honestly believe I could be missing it, but I did a quick google search on citizens against groups, and came up with little that smelt of corporate lobbying. Here is some of what I found:

    Citizens Against State Executions
    Citizens Against Homicide
    Citizens Against Trafficking
    Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (If this was Citizen's FOR lawsuit abuse, then I would easily say it is corporate sponsored, heh.)
    Citizens Against Airport Pollution
    Citizens Against Breastfeeding (This one might be a joke)
    Citizens Against Photo Radar
    Citizens Against Greyhound Racing
    Citizens Against Safety Goggles (Those sweat shops must have started this one. Again, this one might be a joke)
    Citizens Against Methamphetamine

    I don't know where Mike pulled the idea from, I'm sure there are some good examples out there, but I think the were boxed in a little by Mike's statement.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Galileo Galilei, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 6:39pm

    Looks like Vimeo still supports America!
    http://vimeo.com/16107218

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Vigo, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Bah

    Kingster, thank for seeing my point, I'm sure Mike wasn't trying to be subjective though. Also, when I only mentioned the 2nd sentance because it was a lead into the 3rd. In itself, it is only a statement, I know.

    Also, I would still argue that this is OUR Techdirt. Mike can write whatever he wants, but the community he built is intentional. I believe he does write for his fans, not for himself. Otherwise, why else would he implement the CwF+RtB model here? We all own our contributions to this community; from news and articles people submit to the comments that are posted by full members or anonymous cowards, Mike listens and values our opinions. I know when I say that something sounded too subjective, Mike will have at least heard me out.

     

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


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