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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.

Filed Under: bruno mars, copyright, internet streaming, licensing, snl
Companies: nbc universal

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  1. icon
    friday (profile), 25 Oct 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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