Stupid Copyright Licensing Tricks Strike Again: NBC Can't Show Viral SNL Pandora Intern Clip

from the but-the-rest-of-the-internet-can dept

Ah, stupid copyright licensing rules block perfectly normal activities yet again. This past weekend, Saturday Night Live ran a mildly amusing skit involving a power outage at internet streaming radio company, Pandora, in which an intern -- played by Bruno Mars -- has to step in and sing a variety of songs to keep the streams running. It's a slightly hacky trick to show off Mars' singing mimicry, but done pretty well. While NBC has had a somewhat ridiculous love/hate affair with putting SNL clips online. Over the past few years, it's finally realized that viral clips are an important promotional vehicle for the show. Yet... this clip is not online on NBC.com or Hulu, where SNL normally puts its clips... because (of course) music licensing online makes it an impossibility. The TV shows have licenses for TV broadcast, but they don't apply to internet streams (which is why you see some shows change out their music on Hulu). Yet, here, the clip doesn't work at all without the actual music.

Of course, this is the internet, so the clip was quickly uploaded all over the place, and while some of those sources have already seen it pulled down, others still seem to have it up. At the time of this posting, eBaum's World appears to have a working copy.
Of course, having now seen it, it would seem like there's a pretty strong parody defense claim if anyone argued they were infringing. Mars parodies many of the songs, changing or garbling the lyrics, which is a big part of the joke. But, of course, that would require NBC Universal to actually have the guts to fight in court for fair use -- and even just thinking that I think I heard some laughter coming from Rick Cotton's offices.

The end result, though, is nothing but stupidity. NBC doesn't get to show the clip more widely and get the promotional benefits. It also doesn't get the ad revenue that would have gone alongside its own hosted clips. Instead, other sites get the attention and the traffic.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 5:38am

    The problem with fair use is that it has to be tested in court. Allowing for appeals this would take years to resolve and make various lawyers rich. Meanwhile the copyright holder can (try) to keep the clip off the Internet by using the DMCA. Buy the time they could put the clip on their site safely it would be of historical interest rather than useful advertising.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 5:49am

    'other sites get the attention and the traffic.'

    good job too. one of these days someone is going to realise the extent that things are being really screwed up by the entertainment industries and all the ridiculous rules they keep bribing politicians to bring in!!

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 5:59am

    "The end result, though, is nothing but stupidity. NBC doesn't get to show the clip more widely and get the promotional benefits. It also doesn't get the ad revenue that would have gone alongside its own hosted clips."

    Oh, but they get something much, much better.

    They get to act like righteous pricks and accuse "everyone" of "stealing" their "intellectual property". And, hey, if some politician is listening, he might try to pass a new SOPA.

    Win-Win situation. Because they win...twice.

     

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  4.  
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    DaveL (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 6:04am

    AAAannnddd.... it's gone from eBaum's world...

     

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  5.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 6:05am

    reason #520359258 to hate copyrights...

    as they are presently instituted to the benefit of our korporate overlords, and the detriment of both the artists they purportedly serve, and to society...

    the 'default' position should be an expansive fair use definition/practice, with copymax extortionists having a steep hill to climb in proving otherwise; *NOT* the other way around as it is presently...

    and -the ultimate irony, as you touched on- that even one of the biggest korporate media borgs on the planet, will REFUSE to litigate 'their' (ultimately, 'our') clear cut rights for valid fair use...

    *what chance* do us 99.999% stand in such an (in)justice system ? ? ?
    (practically speaking, virtually none)

    *what happens* to us exercising and defending our rights in this regard ? ? ?
    (we don't, they erode and die)

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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  6.  
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    Shon Gale (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 6:20am

    freedom. Bah!

     

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  7. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 6:20am

    Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    You always seem to overlook the biggest questions, Mike. -- Why doesn't NBC just "license" the music for internet streams too? It's big and experienced enough to put pressure on for a reasonable rate; at the very least could choose to use tunes from amenable sources. -- My guess is NBC doesn't care, and that this is actually just another of your conceited notions where YOU know how to run large corporations better than they do. -- Oh, the loot being left on the table! Shareholders would swoon over new swag If only those execs would listen to little Mikey!

     

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  8.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 6:28am

    Re: Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    Again you miss the point.

    "The TV shows have licenses for TV broadcast, but they don't apply to internet streams (which is why you see some shows change out their music on Hulu). Yet, here, the clip doesn't work at all without the actual music. "

    In what sane world would a show need two separate licences for music, simply because of the medium (TV vs Internet)? It's the same show.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 6:32am

    Re: Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    gee blue, you get that they don't care. how perceptive of you.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 6:33am

    Re: Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    Here's a better question: Why should NBC have to license the music more than once?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 6:35am

    Re: Re: Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    Ahh... Rikuo beat me to it.

     

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  12.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 6:39am

    Re:

    The problem with fair use is that it has to be tested in court.

    NO - it doesn't. The problem is that rightsholders keep saying that it does - and they have said it so often that lots of people have started to actually believe them.

    (They do the same with a lot of other lies to - with similar results.)

     

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  13.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 6:40am

    Re: Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    Actually, I think NPC feels the cost of the licensing would be too high even though legally they have no need to license a parody. But then again that doesn't go along with your "Attack Mike" campaign.

     

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  14.  
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    Ryan, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 6:45am

    Re: Re: Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    The contracts are often written very specifically. For example, songs licensed for use in the video game Rock Band 2 are not able to be exported to Rock Band 3, because the license does not allow anything but Rock Band 2 to utilize the song. Ridiculous.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 7:02am

    Re: Re:

    The rights holders do not acknowledge fair use unless it is proven in court. Also the bring enough cases to court to make it effectively true. This demonstrates that fair use will likely end up in court.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re:

    Huh?

    Fair use is an "affirmative defense," something you assert when you answer copyright claims _after_ a suit has been filed.

    How is that not being "tested in court"?

    Unless you are trying to say things should not be this way (in which case I'm inclined to agree), I think you're just wrong.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 7:15am

    NBC on Demand is not on demand. For SNL, they do not show the music performances or all the sketches and there are commercials ON DEMAND and you can't fast forward. How is that on demand? This is why they have no friends.

     

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  18.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 7:38am

    Re: Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    Why are the licensing the music at all? It's parody. It's fair use!

     

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  19.  
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    Trails (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 7:44am

    And you guys call yourselves freetards...

    But not one working link in the comment thread. For shame...

     

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  20.  
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    out_of_the_mind, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 7:48am

    Re: Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    Garble garble rant rant Mikey garble garble.

    " Why doesn't NBC just "license" the music for internet streams too?" - Because even they know thats a fucking dumb idea to have to do that and they wont pay for it. The nerve of NBC, fucking freetards.

    Garble garble rant rant rant Mikey garble freetards garble.
    Off my lawn garble damn garble kids garble garble.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 8:09am

    Re: Re: Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    Licensing is cheaper than proving fair use in court.

     

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  22.  
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    Colin, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    I think he knows the actual reason why, and his question was a polite rephrasing of "this doesn't make any fucking sense."

     

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  23.  
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    gorehound (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 8:57am

    Fuck Music Licensing BS which sinks many a good release from ever being seen.Take for instance the film "Decline of Western Civilization" which because of Licensing will never be released on Disk.
    BE glad it has been ripped from VHS and put in various places around the Internet or you might never have seen it.
    And these are a bunch of cool punk bands but it was released by the MAFIAA and now the MAFIAA will demand millions upon millions of dollars on "Music Rights" .
    Fuck You MAFIAA !

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 9:05am

    Re: Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    Little Boy Blue Boo Hoo Mike has an opinion that's different than you.

     

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  25.  
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    Simple Mind (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 9:48am

    Re: And you guys call yourselves freetards...

    That's because we are all in bed with big search.

     

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  26.  
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    Milton Freewater, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 10:04am

    Re: Why is it "have the guts to fight in court for fair use"?

    " It's big and experienced enough to put pressure on for a reasonable rate"

    Says you.

    Mike is conceited and talking out of his ass, but YOU are experienced enough to know this for a fact. Got it.

    "My guess is NBC doesn't care"

    Here I agree with you ... but that's the end result, isn't it? NOBODY cares. They just do what they can get away with and let the rest slide. Then you come here and bitch about the sky being blue.

     

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  27.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The rights holders do not acknowledge fair use unless it is proven in court.
    Another way of repeating what I said - as part of their brainwashing strategy they take hopeless cases to court.
    If they took other cases to court then other criteria would be used as defenses and would acquire the same status.


    Fair use is an "affirmative defense," something you assert when you answer copyright claims _after_ a suit has been filed.

    No - fair use is a reason why you are not breaking the law.

    ie the law says that fair use is legal.

    You are confusing the concept of a defence with the concept of a mitigating circumstance.

    Just because fair use can be used as a defence does not mean that it is "merely" a defence.

    Self defence is a defence to murder - but that does NOT mean that every case goes to court.

     

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  28.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Re:


    Unless you are trying to say things should not be this way (in which case I'm inclined to agree), I think you're just wrong.


    No I'm saying that in law things are not that way - but that rightsholders are working hard to create the illusion that they are.

     

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  29.  
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    DannyB (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 10:25am

    In the longer term there may be an upside to this

    Some people understand that in the 21st century getting your content maximum exposure quickly may be more valuable than extracting maximum possible (or imagined) value from it.

    Those people are probably much easier to negotiate a license with. Their content could be said to be "nimble" vs the dinosaur's content that is locked up in a Gordian knot or stuck in a copyright thicket of their own making.

    Content that is easier to license is probably at a competitive advantage.

    Some coming generation will find itself with enough of the easily accessible content, and won't have cultural ties to the dinosaur content, and things will quickly change. Nobody will even bother to parody or make any sort of fair use of the dinosaur content. Why even bother.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The rights holders can simply use the DMCA and refuse to recognise fair use until forced to by legal action. They will fight this way because it costs money to do so, and so discourages attempts to assert fair use.
    Further if fair use was a right, rather than a defence, automatic take down systems would be illegal.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 4:05pm

    So apparently its because music licensing is silly. Again what do the music entities get out of having it not available?

     

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  32.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 24th, 2012 @ 5:45pm

    Sigh.
    NBC shoots self in foot again.
    And somehow even after this they will still cling to the idea that unifying all the rules, agreements, etc. is a crazy idea.

    At what point will they join the rest of the world in being interconnected?

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2012 @ 11:56pm

    honestly the skit was dull and lame, unless you like bruno mars, (me not so much)... why argue when it means nothing?

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 4:52am

    Re:

    First they came for the Bruno Mars skits, and not liking him, I didn't care.
    Next they came for the kardashian shows, and I cheered them on.
    Then they came for Jon Stewart's parodies, and I thought i could live without them.
    Then I posted a comment on the internet...

     

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  35.  
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    friday (profile), Oct 25th, 2012 @ 7:56am

    We are talking about one clip here. Its virtually impossible to justify that the promotional benefits the artists or NBC may have enjoyed by allowing the clip to be shown would outweigh the artist's right to have the song used at their discretion. The other sites you refer to, which are allowing the clip to be shown, are violating the law in the same manner that NBC was trying to avoid by refusing to show the clip. The "stupidity" to which your article refers is the ethical choice made by NBC to adhere to the copyright laws that directly apply to them. I, too, am a fan of SNL and enjoy watching one of their infamous viral clips now and again. However, my own entertainment and enjoyment that I derive from those clips is not worth having if it comes at the expense of the artists that in any way facilitate its creation. If this clip is really that important to you, or if you find it that hysterically funny, I am positive you can find it for purchase on itunes, nbc, or at your local target (if you want the entire season). There are rules for a reason and regardless of how much they may hinder our "fun" we still have to adhere to them.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2012 @ 3:24pm

    Re:

    "the artist's right to have the song used at their discretion."

    I deny that the artist has such a right in the first place. And if they HAD such a right, they forfieted it when they gave reproduction rights to the recording company - and the recording company does not have claim to "moral" rights such as that.

    And as far as the artist goes: Do you really think they'll lose sales if the SNL video is available on the Internet? Can you claim with a straight face the artist (or recording company) will lose even ONE sale of the original music from this video clip being available?

     

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


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