Sketchy Copyright Takedown Kills Bad Lip Reading's Force Awakens Remix

from the transformative-works dept

If you haven’t ever seen a Bad Lip Reading video, you’ve been missing out. For many years, they’ve posted a ton of videos taking footage from basically anywhere, and overlaying new audio, matching what people are saying/singing with, well, something else, that is plausible (but usually very, very funny). Here’s one of the inauguration, a music video and one on the NFL. That gives you the basic idea. The last time we wrote about them was back in 2011, but it was (of course) about a silly DMCA takedown involving one of BLR’s videos done by Universal Music.

And now, as spotted by Andy Baio, there’s another BLR takedown, but it’s a weird one. It’s on a brand new video put up by BLR using Star Wars’ The Force Awakens as the source material and (amazingly) getting Mark Hamill to voice Han Solo (wow!). Except, just after it went up, it went down… thanks to a copyright claim:

But… here’s the weird part. It’s not Disney/LucasFilm doing the takedown, as you might have expected, given the origination of the footage. Nope, it’s from “Dramatists Play Service.” As Baio explains:

You may be asking yourself, what does the Dramatists Play Service have to do with Star Wars?

As far as I can tell, absolutely nothing. They don?t appear to have any clear affiliation with the franchise at all.

But anyone can make a copyright claim against any video, with little consequence. YouTube ?doesn?t mediate copyright disputes,? and while the DMCA allows for penalties for false claims, they rarely result in legal action.

Can’t wait for the RIAA and MPAA to start making these takedowns permanent, huh?

At least for their part, Dramatists Play Service seems to be admitting to some sort of mistake:

That and all the attention appear to have worked, and the video has been put back up:

But, still, this is exactly the kind of First Amendment problem we’ve repeatedly discussed about copyright law: it’s a shoot first, ask questions later, kind of setup, and that’s not how the First Amendment is supposed to work.

Update: the folks over at Lumen Database not that I totally failed in not including a “Han shot first” joke to that final line above. My apologies. Won’t happen again, etc. etc.

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Companies: dramatists play service, youtube

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Comments on “Sketchy Copyright Takedown Kills Bad Lip Reading's Force Awakens Remix”

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tp (profile) says:

DCMA notices...

If it uses footage from star wars films, it’s pretty clear they didn’t get permission from LucasFilm. So the video could be clear copyright infringement. Proper movie rights might have price tag which is unavailable to ordinary bloggers.

Proper way to handle would be “to stop using any service that posts this content — including techdirt.”. If it’s clearly infringing content, end users should opt to reject any service where they see this kind of videos. If the web site is ignoring all warnings and posting the content anyway, users who notice this problem should stop using the service, since it’s pirated content.

Users pretty much should evaluate every piece of content they see in web and other places, whether it’s been posted by the original author or his publisher network, where the compensation is going to the right direction. If they see failures in this pattern, using such services is risky. Right way to handle this problem is to reject the service completely and move to legal alternatives.

DCMA notices might not be the right way to handle this situation, but if web site authors are giving no other way to mark infringing content, DCMA notice is sure way to get attention.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: DCMA notices...

Did you bother to read the article before posting? Apparently not.

Even if it was Lucas/Disney taking it down, and it was not, it was a third party who admitted they don’t quite know why it happened, there’s this little thing called “FAIR USE” which means they don’t need a license when parodying a thing. This is obviously parody, no question. Even Disney nods, smiles, and lets this one pass, and those bastards jump all over everything.

Why don’t you take a moment to google that concept instead of wasting everyone’s time with your your completely erroneous non-reality-based quasi-legal opinions? Or are you just a trolling?

Nikhilesh N says:

Re: DCMA notices...

Umm, doesn’t Disney apparently own LucasFilms now?
I find your lack of knowledge disturbing.
Also, the man behind Bad Lip Reading is affiliated to Disney’s Maker Studios. He also teamed with Disney XD to make a BLR video of High School Musical.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: DCMA notices...

“If it uses footage from star wars films, it’s pretty clear they didn’t get permission from LucasFilm.”

It’s also clear that they don’t have to, under specific clauses of copyright law.

“So the video could be clear copyright infringement”

It could be. It also could not be. This is why the “take down first, ask questions later” tactic is so offensive to free speech.

But, sadly, you’re too concerned with the fictional potential profits this might have lost a corporation to consider the facts being discussed.

Anonymous Coward says:

If it uses footage from star wars films, it’s pretty clear they didn’t get permission from LucasFilm. So the video could be clear copyright infringement. Proper movie rights might have price tag which is unavailable to ordinary bloggers.

Huh? I don’t think I’m following you here.

Disney owns the copyright, and everything on BLR is pretty obviously fair use satirical derivative.

BLR isn’t an ordinary blogger, and even if they were, they’ve got proper rights by way of fair use.

Due to the voiceover cast, they ALSO probably let Disney know ahead of time that they were putting this up.

tp (profile) says:

Re: DCMA notices

let Disney know ahead of time that they were putting this up.

It’s not enough to let them know beforehand that you’re posting some stuff to internet. You need a license to every piece of content you’re using. If you don’t have a license available, then you should not be doing those publishing operations at all. Those operations are exclusively belong to the authors, and noone else.

tp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: DCMA notices

So does Fair Use exist in your world?

Sounds like some limited exception. The main rule is that everything is forbidden. Good citizens can follow the main rule and they don’t need to rely on limited exceptions. Keeping proper distance from the illegal stuff is recommended practise, and only way to do that properly is to not go too near the illegal line. Relying on fair use is one of those exceptional situations which should be invoked only if you have no other choice, i.e. if your proper avoidance of illegal stuff is failing for some reason.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 DCMA notices

Expanding a little on my previous comment…

It’s the opposite actually, copyright is the exception.

Without copyright anyone could copy, modify, sell or give to another a story, song or other creative work as soon as it was made public. In order to serve the public creators are granted (at this point entirely theoretically) limited time monopoly rights over their creations, monopoly rights which remove what others could otherwise do, under the (now heavily flawed with how warped the law has become) assumption that the temporary ‘harm’ the public faces by having their ability to do what they will with new ideas or creative works limited will be outweighed by the gain the public gets from having works that would otherwise not have been created without copyright being made and passed to the public.

With multiple retroactive expansions to copyright ensuring that in the US at least nothing makes it into the public domain, fair use acts as a (poor but better than nothing) way for the public to make use of works to build upon and create new works.

Given the vast amounts of creative works that exist because of fair use and/or in spite of copyright law, it’s just a wee bit difficult to take you seriously when you say fair use should be exercised only as a last resort. I value culture and creativity in general and the growth and shifting of both far more than I value anything you or any other individual might create, so the idea that they should be crippled by ignoring how they work isn’t an idea I’m buying.

tp (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 DCMA notices

fair use acts as a (poor but better than nothing) way for the public to make use of works to build upon and create new works.

Yes, but why does public need this ability to “build upon and create new works”? This “product creation” aspect should be reserved for companies only. Otherwise public’s free time is being eaten by some leeches who ask public to implement their burdensome requirements. You get the famous moon walk problem where some poor soul gets the requirement of implementing rockets, nasa’s control center and jet fuel from scratch, without nasa’s support.

Of course you need to have people who knows how to build these products. People spend their whole life studying/learning/implementing/practising etc so that they can create something useful for the world. This activity needs to be possible. But these people are also experts at following copyright limitations.

Public should be “consuming” these products, not creating them. This is why anyone can become author, i.e. it’s a trophy for creating a product on your own. But public should be consuming these. And it’s the public that needs to reap the benefits. One important benefit is that there exists large collection of different kind of products, not just copies of the same stuff repeated over and over again. Getting your product to the market is already hard enough without competing against copies of your own products from unauthorised channels. Copyright prevents these unauthorised channels from eating your market before you can get your product to the market properly.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 DCMA notices

Okay, now I’m really hoping you’re a Poe. Your ideas of creativity and who should be allowed it is so warped it’s hard to know where to even begin.

Creativity should be ‘reserved for companies only’? Yeah, no. You don’t get to categorize society like that(‘Oh, you’re a member of the public? You buy stuff, leave the creating stuff for the big boys’). Creativity is part of human nature, it’s not reserved for companies with the public left to be cogs stuck making ‘useful’ things to be sold by companies and bought by the public.

Just because companies bought the law it doesn’t mean they get the right to control a significant part of human nature, and if people mixing and remixing what’s been made before, as has always been the case, acts as a form of ‘competition’ and reduces the market for something that’s just too bad, creativity and culture are more important than company profits.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 DCMA notices

Yes, but why does public need this ability to “build upon and create new works”?

Because that is the way that culture works. People take the things that are familiar and rework them to tell the tales that they want to tell. The avant-guard in all art has always had a minority following, and only becomes more popular as it becomes a familiar style.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 DCMA notices

“The main rule is that everything is forbidden”

No, the main rule specifically states that it doesn’t apply in cases of parody, among other exceptions.

I know that merely following what major corporations wish the law said makes their lives easier, but reality states the public have a say as well.

“Relying on fair use is one of those exceptional situations which should be invoked only if you have no other choice”

Like when all the times Disney have utilised fair use?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: DCMA notices

Seriously, this is so crazy-wrong I’m gonna have to wonder if you’re a slightly more literate-than-usual troll? Or are you being over the top sarcastic in a Poe’s Law way?

Wikipedia says:
Poe’s law is an adage that states that, without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers or viewers as a sincere expression of the parodied views.

Oh, lookie, I’m in some trouble now; I posted something from another website w/o getting a license from them! /s

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