As Israel went offline for the Jewish sabbath, YouTube removed most versions of Latma’s hit parody song We Con the World. If you try to access the song on YouTube you receive the notification:
This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Warner/ Chappell Music, Inc. .
Copyright experts we advised with before posting the song told us in no uncertain terms that we were within our rights to use the song because we did so in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine. The Fair Use Doctrine, copied and pasted below from the US Copyright Office stipulates that it is legal and permissible to use copyrighted material under the fair use doctrine for purposes of parody.
Copyright attorneys also warned us that given our clearly lawful use of the song We are the World, if anyone wished to silence our voices, they wouldn’t target us. Instead they would target YouTube. It is YouTube’s standard practice to remove any material that they receive even the flimsiest threat for because the company wishes to avoid all litigation.
As Glick notes, it’s not the first time that YouTube has come down against the Israeli side in its editorial decisions. In 2008, the service removed several IDF videos of their actions in Gaza when Israel attempted to bypass what it sees as a hostile global media. After an outcry, YouTube restored the videos but labeled them as potentially “inappropriate.”
Glick also points out that the “We Con the World” video squarely falls into the realm of parody. That qualifies it for the “fair use” exemption under copyright law. Warner /Chappelle can make all the claims they want, but they would lose in court. YouTube wants to avoid paying for a court appearance, but it doesn’t speak well of a New Media outlet that exists to support content producers that they cave to outside pressure so easily — if that is indeed what happened, and if they weren’t just looking for an excuse to eject Latma’s content from the beginning.
It’s YouTube’s site, and they can do what they want with it. They are no more a public utility than is Hot Air, and subscribers have to deal with their editorial decisions. Content producers may want to start looking for alternatives to YouTube, however, as they can also control where and how their content gets published.
Update: Perhaps Eyeblast might prove a little more stalwart when it comes to supporting the rights of content producers. It still exists in at least one place at YouTube (for the moment), but I’ve uploaded it to my Eyeblast account just in case YouTube sniffs it out. Enjoy.
This also demonstrates the futility of attempting to silence people in an open-source world, doesn’t it?