Copyright As Censorship: YouTuber Pulls Down GoFundMe Video To Help Victim Of Viral YouTube Jumping Tesla Stunt
from the copyright-is-almost-as-stupid-as-jumping-a-tesla dept
It still amazes me how unwilling many copyright system supporters are to admit that copyright is regularly used for actual censorship, using the power of the law to suppress speech. The latest example is particularly galling. Over the weekend, a somewhat ridiculous video went viral of a Tesla doing a jump over a hill in Echo Park, and then losing control, smashing into garbage cans and, eventually, a parked car. YouTuber Alex Choi was there and had a whole video about the incident, which I’m not going to link to for reasons I’ll explain down below.
Now I should note that in his video, Choi emphasizes repeatedly that he didn’t know the people in the jumping Tesla, nor did he have anything to do with the planning of it. Instead, he makes it sound as though it were just a gathering of a huge number Tesla owners/drivers. They met up in a parking lot somewhere and drove around LA as a group. At one point, they decided to go to a spot where another famous YouTuber had jumped his car, and some people in the group decided to do the same jump (apparently in a rental Tesla). The jump went completely viral, in part because of Choi’s video about it, which included videos from his own dashcam and a bunch of other dudes standing around watching and filming the whole thing.
Apparently after the car crashed and came to a stop, everyone made a run for it (leaving the damaged Tesla there). Choi says he went back about 30 minutes later and filmed some of the aftermath, including a close up shot of one of apparently two cars (a Subaru) that the idiots who drove the jumping Tesla hit. Choi said that the damage didn’t look that bad (from the outside, the back bumper just looks a bit dented).
Enter the owner of that car, Jordan Hook, who woke up to crashing sounds, and discovered his Subaru smashed. And, yes, the back bumper is only slightly dented, but as he’s since detailed, the crash ruined some tires, bent the steering column, and blew out his suspension. Basically, it totaled his car. Jordan then posted a GoFundMe, hoping to get some money to replace his now destroyed Subaru.
But, if you look at that GoFundMe, you might notice that the video he originally made for it has been taken down due to… a copyright strike. A copyright strike from Alex Choi.
Yes, you guessed it. Some of Jordan’s video dared to show some of the footage of the idiots jumping the Tesla and having it crash into his car, and Alex Choi issued a copyright strike on it, because apparently if anyone is going to get money from that kind of stupidity, it needs to be… Alex Choi. Clearly, this usage by Jordan is protected by fair use, but these days, fair use is mostly meaningless when someone issues a copyright strike to YouTube. Hook has now created a new video without the footage of the crash itself:
It’s understandable, but stupid.
Now, again, Choi isn’t the idiot who crashed the car, he just hangs out with idiots and makes viral videos, and then apparently issues bogus copyright takedowns to silence the victims of his idiot colleagues. I’m not linking to Choi’s video because he doesn’t deserve any more views, even if he didn’t approve of what the Tesla jumpers did.
On that note, at least, the LAPD is apparently “investigating” the incident, but it’s unclear if anything is going to happen. In his GoFundMe, Hook claims the LAPD said they won’t pursue those who were involved in this mess because “it’s just property damage and not a felony,” though I think the viral nature of the story seems to have made the LAPD reconsider that stance.
Either way, the copyright angle here is frustrating beyond belief.
However, it’s another good example of why things like the new SMART Copyright Act of 2022 from Senators Leahy and Tillis is so dangerous. It likely would lead to requiring sites to use monitoring and filtering tools that would have prevented Hook from even trying to upload the video in the first place, despite it obviously being fair use.
Copyright is broken, and regularly used to stifle speech, and this is just the latest example.