YouTube Takes Down Chanukkah Parody Of Old Town Road… Because It Infringes On A Date?
from the say-what-now? dept
The Maccabeats, as I have just discovered, is an Orthodox Jewish a capella group that specializes in Jewish-themed parodies of hit songs (pretty much all a cappella groups seem to do a bunch of parodies). Their latest video, for this year’s Chanukkah, was a parody of both Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy (here: “Pan Fry”) and Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” It’s pretty entertaining. Anyway, on Tuesday, they got a takedown notice from YouTube, saying that the video is no longer allowed to be shown for copyright violations:
Hey @TeamYouTube , been trying to get this claim resolved for over 24 hours. Under the "content used" section, the claimant just entered the date, and yet you still blocked our video.
Somebody doesn't want our Hanukkah video to be seen, and you're enabling them. @AkivaMCohen pic.twitter.com/6cdCl1cLdQ
— Maccabeats (@Maccabeats) December 24, 2019
If you want to see the actual video, it does still appear to be up via Facebook (which, bizarrely, doesn’t seem to have an embed option?!)
There’s always some risk with parody songs that someone jumps in and claims copyright, and that’s possibly what happened here, though there are some oddities in the information YouTube provided to the Maccabeats, as noted in the tweet above. First, it says that the infringing part is from 1:15 to 1:48 in the video, which is roughly the part in which they’re parodying “Old Town Road.” So, it’s probably some sort of Old Town Road claim. But… instead of saying that, it says the date in the part where it shows “Content used.” That’s weird.
Then, for “copyright owners” it says “Mako.” Now, there are some fascinating stories to be told about the copyright for “Old Town Road” including that Trent Reznor actually gets a songwriting credit on it, because it samples 34 Ghosts IV from the Ghosts I-IV album (side note: Ghosts I-IV was part of what inspired my somewhat infamous 2009 Midem presentation, which caused some buzz among the recording industry). However, as far as I can tell, among the various people and companies with a copyright claim to Old Town Road, there is no “Mako.”
Oddly, there is an Israeli entertainment company called Mako, which offers video on demand content, and is one of the most visited websites in Israel. Given that, it’s possible that the Maccabeats song appeared on Mako, and was then claimed on YouTube because of that.
Either way, the Maccabeats seem quite reasonably pissed off. The song is about Channukkah, and we’re about halfway through it this year, so they’re on the verge of losing out on the biggest market for their song. Isn’t copyright great?
Update: And, it appears that YouTube has decided to put the video back up: