Evel Kneivel Sues AOL For Allowing People To Find Disputed Kanye West Video

from the misplaced-blame-again dept

Earlier this week, there was some chatter over famed stuntman Evel Knievel’s decision to sue musician Kanye West for his music video where he plays a persona “Evel Kanyevel” who is clearly a take off on Knievel. This seems silly for a few reasons — including the fact that the video (which has already been out for a while, and was the source of some controversy after West felt the video was snubbed at an awards event) probably helped bring renewed attention to Knievel and his stunts. However, what’s more interesting (and relevant for this site) is the news that Knievel is also suing AOL over the video — not for hosting the video, but because their video search engine finds the video on various other sites.

The lawsuit claims that once AOL was informed of this, they put a stop to this, but as Steve Bryant notes in the article above a search on the site still turns up the video. Either way, though, this seems like a misplaced lawsuit. AOL didn’t upload the video, and unlike other sites, they’re not even hosting it. It’s just that their video search engine happens to be the one that someone used to tell Knievel that the video was online. Bryant also raises questions about whether or not success against West in the lawsuit would allow Knievel to go after all the other video search and video hosting sites that likely have the video, noting how impossible that task would be. No matter how pointless the overall effort is, suing a search engine for helping you find a video you think infringes on your rights is going too far and shows a complete lack of understanding of how the internet works. Of course, AOL has gone through this before. A few years back there was the famous lawsuit that author Harlan Ellison fought against AOL for Usenet postings of one of his stories. The stories were posted to Usenet, which has nothing to do with AOL, but he sued AOL because that’s how he got to Usenet. In that case, they ended up paying off Ellison, so maybe that’s set a precedent for what people can expect when they file bogus lawsuits against AOL for merely allowing people to access potentially infringing content.

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Comments on “Evel Kneivel Sues AOL For Allowing People To Find Disputed Kanye West Video”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Not sure I can call someone who takes advantage of a system-wide loophole in order to strike it rich an idiot (assuming that your comment is implying the plaintiff is the idiot here). In fact, you might say that everyone who doesn’t take advantage of such loopholes to secure a lush future is a fucking idiot.

I think it is more appropriate to focus on the fucking idiots who have yet to set precedent and laws that put a stop to this kind of legal abuse. AOL (and/or other companies) need to stop setting and fight in hopes that it will quell those would-be plaintiff’s out there who will follow in their footsteps.

Anonymous Bum (user link) says:


I saw a rabbi in an AOL video commercial yesterday on TV. He was having so much fun and AOL was saying I could have fun too. All I had to do is go to video.aol.com.

Too bad I got a life.

Clicking the Evel Knievel Figurine link from adsense too.

comboman says:

Parody: Look it up

I think Knievel landed on his head too many times. Why isn’t he suing Super Dave Osborne or The Simpson’s daredevil Lance Murdock, both of whom are obviously modeled after him? Perhaps because parody is fair use and no reasonable court would find in favor of Knievel. Of course, there are plenty of unreasonable courts so, hell, why not give it try. I’m sure it’s an easier way to make money than jumping over buses.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Surreal Life 2011

If Evel had any PR sense at all, he’d embrace the video and co-present some award at a music show with Kanye.

But I’m not worried. Evel, Kanye, and Steve Case will all kiss and make up after they spend a season together on The Surreal Life 2011.

(I know, I know, Steve Case isn’t there anymore. That’s why he’s a perfect candidate for TSR. Now we just have to wait for Kanye’s career to flame out.)

Geoff says:

Better Yet

I’m launching a lawsuit against every person who has read and responded to this article for propagating interest in this video, which is causing Mr. Knievel’s hardships!!!!

It’s time’s like this that I am glad to Not be American – As American as apple pie, baseball, Honda and Frivolous lawsuits! I do so love a good American apple pie while watching my baseball games though.

Bob says:

I think I'll go...

I think I’ll go sue Microsoft, whose Internet Explorer subjects me to bad advertisements that pop up on my screen, porn, and other unwanted activity. I won’t proactively do anything constructive, only sue, sue, sue.

This is getting out of hand. There should be strict penalities for a case going to court and losing. Cut down on some of the bull-chips like this.

Zap Brannigan says:

Suing search engines

I’ve decided that I need to make some quick cash. I’m going to post some incriminating pictures of myself and then search for them on aol, google, yahoo and msn and then sue them. Of course, rather than drag all this out in lengthy court proceedings they’ll just settle out of court. Sure, it’ll be a little humiliating but I’ll seek comfort on a beach sipping mai tais.

Sanguine Dream says:

So I'm wondering...

how can Wierd Al’s videos be parody but this video not be?

I don’t like Kanye West becuase he’s trying too hard to be this generation’s Chuck D (who was a real political rapper). But I don’t think he infringed on Kinevel’s image at all. But I wonder is he would change his tune if the video had won some awards…

Kanye West says:


AOL doesn’t care about black people. Evel Kneivel doesn’t care about black people. As a black entertainer, I am entitled to use anyone else’s ideas; like the WHITE MAN did to my people so many years ago. Let’s not worry about, “did Kanye rip-off Evel Kneivel?” Let’s focus on Katrina, and black people, and poverty, and the white man’s hypocrisy. Suing a black man should be illegal, I am looking forward to my counter-suit on the grounds that white men are racist and I am a black man. Please, buy my album, unless you are a racist mofo. Dang.

Anonymous Coward says:

I wonder if it’s not racially motived. Others have parodied Evil (all white from what I can tell) several times over the years, yet a black man does it and he gets all up in arms. Interesting don’t you think? If he has a trademark on his image, then he should embrace this as other parodies and use it to keep his image alive for a new generation who have never even heard of him. Duh! PR

DV Henkel-Wallace (profile) says:

conspiracy approach?

How about the theory that West paid Knieval to bring the suit in order to bring publicity to them both? Diabolical!

(what’s the bike-jumper’s real name, anyway? Does he have to use it in the court filings? That would be extra surreal: “The plaintiff, Fred Jones, alleges that the name “Kanyevel” sounds too much like his own and that irreparable harm would stem from this confusion……”)

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