Warner Brothers Pulls Plug On Viral Greenpeace Ad Utilizing 'The Lego Movie' Theme Song (And Legos)

from the WB-execs-say-real-life-story-needs-more-villains dept

Another clear case of fair use is greeted by a major studio with, “Hey, that’s our stuff!” A new campaign from Greenpeace targeting Lego’s partnership with Shell has been nuked from orbit by Warner Bros. Entertainment. The short video depicted a stylized, Lego-built Arctic (complete with Eskimos, arctic wolves and Halo’s Master Chief) being slowly swallowed by oil to a downtempo cover of The Lego Movie’s impossibly catchy theme song “Everything is Awesome.”

You used to be able to watch it on YouTube, where it had racked up nearly three million views before this happened.


Apparently, Warner Bros. Entertainment took issue with the use of the theme song and the inclusion of the two Lego Movie characters (seen briefly near the end of the 90-second video) and issued a takedown. Whether or not you agree with Greenpeace’s complaint, there’s no denying the fact that its use of the theme song and very brief use of these characters is clearly parodic fair use.

Greenpeace has now moved the video to Vimeo, where it will possibly receive a stronger fair use defense from the hosting company, although still in the form of “oblige takedown request first, investigate later.” It may work a little harder to defend this one up front, considering all the viewers that were heading to YouTube to catch Greenpeace’s new viral video are now landing on its doorstep.



Warner Bros.’ action here isn’t exactly censorship (as it probably was agnostic about the video’s message) but it’s not exactly forgivable either. Seeing as this video probably didn’t trigger an automated takedown by YouTube’s content-matching system, it was most likely the result of an active search for infringement, which means whoever’s policing content for WB ignored everything but the song and the brief appearance of its Lego Movie characters. Once again, digital shouts of “MINE!” trump fair use.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,
Companies: greenpeace, shell, warner bros., youtube

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Warner Brothers Pulls Plug On Viral Greenpeace Ad Utilizing 'The Lego Movie' Theme Song (And Legos)”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
47 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Seriously. I read Lego’s statement, and they try to downplay it a bit, as if the issue is just between Greenpeace and Shell, but they gloss a bit over how Shell is using Lego to leverage their own brand in the face of a world that is increasingly hostile towards what they do.

In that context, I think Lego needs to be dragged into that fight too.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Fair use is respecting copyright. It’s just that rights holders don’t respect fair use. So stop being like the gatekeepers and pretending that the line and the laws aren’t somewhere and something they are not. (And that’s the existing, ridiculous, overly broad laws already. Still fair use even in that environment.)

Sheogorath (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually, if you want people to respect copyright, this is exactly how you do it. If comapnies piss people off enough, then they’ll fight back against the laws until we finally get something that can be respected. That’s why the UK recently made format shifting and other reasonable things legal, because they finally recognised that many were confused by the law, and those who weren’t were simply pissed off by them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Greenpeace wants Lego to stop their *brand* relationship with Shell. You can buy Lord of the Rings Legos, Harry Potter Legos, Lego Movie Legos, and … Shell Legos. Actually, I’m puzzled by the whole thing as, according to Google, the last Shell-branded Lego kit was released in 1999. Why they started complaining now is unclear.

teka (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As I understand it, Lego occasionally releases small polybag kits with Ferrari branding and they are available at shell stations in a few countries.

That is about it.

Greenpeace is trying too hard here.
And the downtempo Everything is Awesome is haunting but not as haunting as the thought of dredging all those legos in an oil-like gel.. They wouldn’t use Real oil, right?

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Society is addicted to petroleum, and the way you deal with that is not by acting as an enabler or denying that a problem exists. You get the person into rehab and the dealers into prison if you want to actually fix the problem rather than let the victim continue to self-destruct.

Karl Benz invented the automobile in 1886. It ran on gasoline. Since then, we’ve had all sorts of advances in technology.

The Wright Brothers invented powered flight, and then we got biplanes and triplanes, jet planes, stealth planes, Concordes and space shuttles.

Electronic, programmable computing was developed in World War II for the war effort. Since then… well, what are you reading this on? 😉

The television was invented by Philo Farnsworth in 1927. His chief innovation was the concept of an image as a grid of pixels. Since then, we’ve brought color to TVs. We’ve developed LCD and plasma screens, and touch screens that turn a display device into an interactive input device.

Nearly every significant piece of technology invented for decades after the automobile has gone through significant, extensive revisions and turned into something that completely transcends its original purpose. But if a time traveler were to abduct Karl Benz and bring him forward to the present day, he would know exactly how modern automobiles run: they burn gasoline, ignited by spark plugs. It’s not a proud achievement; it’s a freaking disgrace, an insult to the very concept of human intelligence and innovation. And idiots like you say that people who see the problem for what it is want society to move backwards?!?

That is not how we solve problems; just look at history. We innovate and figure out a better way to do things. Tesla has shown it’s possible, and people’s response has shown it’s inevitable. So until you get a bit of a clue, please shut up. Once technological progress gets started, you’re either riding the steam roller, or you’re the coyote.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The Wright Brothers invented powered flight…”

And every single thing since then runs on the exact same principles that the Write Brothers used to fly. A concept that had been around (and used) long before them, by the way.

“The television was invented by Philo Farnsworth in 1927.”

And ever since then every single display device down to the phone in your pocket is based on an image as a grid of pixels.

“he would know exactly how modern automobiles run:”

No he wouldn’t. He might understand that it’s an internal combustion engine, but outside of that nothing he knows would apply. Hell, he wouldn’t even know what a catalytic converter is.

Same with the Write Brothers, they would understand exactly how any modern plane flies. Philo Farnsworth would instantly see that our pictures are still made of pixels. Same exact technology, just a slightly different implementation.

You seem to think that technology moves a lot faster then it does. The vast majority of technology is based on concepts and technology older I am (and probably you are). Even technological wonders that come out today, my dad played with the same thing when he was a kid.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And every single thing since then runs on the exact same principles that the Write (sic) Brothers used to fly.

Really? When’s the last time you flew in a prop plane?

And ever since then every single display device down to the phone in your pocket is based on an image as a grid of pixels.

But the mechanism Farnsworth used to illuminate the grid–using a cathode ray tube as an electron gun–is as dead as the cassette tape. (Another example of revolutionary technological progress over the same period; the phonograph was invented less than a decade before the automobile, and look what we’ve done with audio recording since then!)

No he wouldn’t. He might understand that it’s an internal combustion engine, but outside of that nothing he knows would apply. Hell, he wouldn’t even know what a catalytic converter is.

A catalytic converter has nothing whatsoever to do with making a car run–China has millions of cars today that don’t even have one. (Which is a major part of the reason the air quality in Beijing is so bad.) It’s used to convert waste products from the inefficient internal combustion engine into a less toxic form, and would be completely unnecessary if the source of the problem was removed. (I strongly doubt Tesla’s cars have one, for example.)

But the basic principles of Benz’s Motorwagen are all still present. They’ve been improved upon by progress, sure, but not revolutionized in the way everything else in modern technology has over the same period of time. My original point still stands: it’s a disgrace that, in the middle of the Information Age, so much of our energy comes from Industrial Revolution-age sources.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Really? When’s the last time you flew in a prop plane?”

Wings have changed vary little since then. The shape of the wing has only been fine tuned and changing the direction of the plane is still done by changing the shape of the wing. The requirements of center of lift compared to the center of mass hasn’t changed, can’t change.

“But the mechanism Farnsworth used to illuminate the grid–using a cathode ray tube as an electron gun–is as dead as the cassette tape.”

You specifically stated that Farnsworth’s “chief innovation was the concept of an image as a grid of pixels.” That hasn’t changed. We’ve been using pixels since vector went out of style. Just because the CRT “is as dead as the cassette tape” doesn’t mean the principles or technology is much different.

Speaking of cassette tapes, take one guess as to the best way to backup massive amounts of data. Yep, that’s right magnetic tape. Still going strong, still expensive as hell.

“But the basic principles of Benz’s Motorwagen are all still present.”

The only thing similar would be the idea of an explosion pushing a piston. How the gas gets there and what is done with that energy has changed massively since then. Fuel injection vs. carburetor vs. whatever that would have used (probably gravity fed looking at it). Then there’s the flywheels and transmission vs direct drive. OK, I take it back, the engine has changed far more then I thought it did.

Look, I know the point you’re trying to make (and I agree with it), but you’re making it in an incredibly stupid way. You sound like one of those hippies who never bothers to research what they’re arguing about. Yes, we should switch over to electric engines, and guess what, it’s happening. But you should not argue things that are just going to get people to shrug you off. “Oh he thinks cars haven’t changed since they were first invented. Must be an idiot”

Athena Hollow (profile) says:

So much for that "Vimeo might do better" thing

If you go to view the video on vimeo, you’re greeted with this:

“Page not found

Sorry, “LEGO: Everything is NOT awesome” was deleted at 6:38:49 Fri Jul 11, 2014.

Vimeo has removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. claiming that this material is infringing: LEGO: Everything is NOT awesome.”

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...