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
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.