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:

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:

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Filed Under: bad buy, billie eilish, copyright, dmca, lil nas x, maccabeats, music, old town road, pan fry, parody, takedown
Companies: youtube


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 2:16pm

    A big part of the problem is that action is being taken by a third party, in this case YouTube, who are forced to deal with a huge volume of notices and counter notices. Unless a notice is withdrawn, or enough noise is made on social media, to attract the attention of someone with the power to make a decision, YouTube will not make an independent decision.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Dec 2019 @ 3:17pm

    Video's back up

    Via the Twitter account for The Maccabeats:

    Thanks everyone for your support - the video's back, for now! The claimant didn't respond to our dispute, so the video was automatically re-instated.

    @YouTube @TeamYouTube we usually try to stay positive, but your staff was unhelpful and your policies spineless. You allowed a troll (or worse...) to suppress our content without any evidence. Your creators deserve better.

    And here’s a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emIvBfzTsQk

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 5:08pm

    Looks more like someone entered the wrong values in the field. Not saying this makes the claim genuine but it could be an honest mistake.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    TFG, 26 Dec 2019 @ 5:32pm

    Re:

    If true, then the system is such that such an "honest mistake" manages to suppress a perfectly legitimate parody for a noticeable length of time.

    That's a problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Tracie Goldman, 26 Dec 2019 @ 5:53pm

    The song is back on YouTube so it seems like it is a moot issue as of now. The Maccabeats have been doing these parodies for over 8 years without any issues before. They typically have little controversy on these matters

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 6:14pm

    Re:

    It is a simple mistake, but they are threatening to take the video creators to court (even if copyright complaints never make it that far). That should be serious enough to double check the form.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Dec 2019 @ 10:48pm

    Re:

    Because the "honest mistake" claim from the RIAA obviously hasn't gotten old as fuck over the last two decades...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2019 @ 12:48am

    Re:

    It's worse than that the law doesn't allow Youtube to make an independent decision.

    If Youtube want to keep their safe harbour protections they have to pass along the takedown notice regardless of how defective they think it is otherwise they are the ones on the hook for the content.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    ryuugami, 27 Dec 2019 @ 6:26am

    Re:

    The song is back on YouTube so it seems like it is a moot issue as of now.

    Returning the stolen car a day later doesn't make the original theft a moot issue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Sharur, 27 Dec 2019 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re:

    But which system:

    Youtube's automated system, or the US DMCA/Copyright system.

    Because (as a programer) if the US DMCA or other law mandates that the content is taken down immediately upon receipt of a DMCA takedown notice, without making a determination on the validity of the notice (which I believe it does), then the automated system is working correctly and shouldn't be blamed.

    (I may be projecting a bit; management where I work has a horrible view of "just make the system work, and fast" rather than taking the time to understand how the system works, find out what is broken, and fix the broken thing properly).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2019 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re:

    If Youtube want to keep their safe harbour protections they have to pass along the takedown notice

    Is there an actual law that states this and is there a court case that enforced same?
    With the lack of supporting evidence, I assume your claim is not entirely correct.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    ECA (profile), 27 Dec 2019 @ 1:35pm

    RIAA/MPAA

    It seems the movie and music industry is spreading around the world, for some odd idea that they can Claim all the movie and music thay can get their hands on.
    With this idea, and NOT the Concept that every nation has laws and rules, they wish to bypass all of it, and just take anyone to court, Without International copyrights as they will have them all. And lots of this, is Basically promises to the companies that Make the music and movies, that they can MAKE THEM MORE MONEY..(how, if they spend it all on lawyers).
    Its going to get convoluted, based on 1 simple thing, Who is in charge of what area, and What law/rules are they using. (Their Own) All of a sudden, you have representatives, around the world that have been told(basically) that they should protect the music and such around them, anyway/anytime/anyhow, that they can. (dont think hard on that, just think how convoluted its getting)
    The big agency is teaching the Other smaller nations Music/movie industry, that IF they join up then they dont need to go thru the international Copyright system, nor the courts to get things done, and WHO will take those persons to court when it is contested?? Dont have to, its going to be So complicated, to contact anyone to do anything, its just a Needle in a haystack, who did what to Whom, in the back yard with the cow... and why is she pregnant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2019 @ 4:34pm

    Re: Re:

    Passing along a takedown notice != taking down the content, and on an incredibly improperly formatted notice at that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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    New job Opening

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  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2019 @ 5:17am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Have a read here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_Copyright_Infringement_Liability_Limitation_Act

    There is also the recent case of the ISP Cox that have just been ordered to hand over $1 billion to the music companies for not terminating customers on the back of the dodgy rightscorp takedown notices they received;
    https://torrentfreak.com/cox-is-liable-for-pirating-subscribers-hit-with-1-billion-damages -verdict-191220/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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