CONTROVERSY OVER COPYRIGHT & YOUTUBE VIDEO CREATIONS
The Internet has been used for news reporting, research and media. Some people go on websites to create their own videos for fun, listen to music or to watch old shows that they have not seen in years, specifically the popular video site: Youtube. However, downloading songs or uploading videos is a serious and controversial issue. The issue has recently become more serious. Strict penalties are being enforced on Internet copyright infringement.
SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) proposed two bills that protect copyrighted works. This resulted in the shutdown of other file-sharing video sites: Megaupload and Megavideo. Hackers, music lovers and video lovers, Facebook, Google and Wikipedia staff alike, have protested against both bills in response. They’re very concerned that if legislation passes them, the Anti-Piracy Act would lessen the Freedom of Speech amendment and Internet censorship would be underway.
Groups that represent music industry and film industry are SOPA and PIPA supporters. Walt Disney Co. supports SOPA and PIPA. The company’s current CEO Bob Iger declined an invitation by California Senator Dianne Feinstein to a meeting with various tech companies where they planned discussing SOPA bill and PIPA bill amends. Congress—and Senator Harry Reid—has postponed the SOPA and PIPA organizations’ bills until further notice.
On Youtube, visitors can watch television shows such as “Ocean Girl,” an Australian science-fiction series about an alien girl named Neri, who communicates with a humpback whale called Charley, preview movie trailers, watch music videos or listen to recorded songs (sometimes with lyrics). Some Youtube channel users enjoy posting their own video creations with existing film and television show clips. Viewers enjoy watching users’ creative projects. Notably, Disney characters and other animated characters are featured in video creations as either crossovers—another media form of fan fiction, which is written stories of works that are not in the public domain—or movie “spoofs.” An exampled crossover film series, titled: “Pooh’s Adventures” has Winnie the Pooh and his friends meet other Disney characters in different Disney movies.
Former Youtube user, BrerDaniel made his first crossover: “Pooh’s Adventures of Beauty & The Beast.” It’s the same story but with Winnie the Pooh characters seeing almost everything that happens within the story. The way BrerDaniel created each of his videos was by burning off his DVDs, loading the film clips onto Windows Movie Maker program, putting a lot of time and hard work editing clips together and typing out subtitles for added dialogues. Current Youtube user, TheBeckster1000 made her second movie spoof: “The Tigger King” through a similar process. “The Lion King” audio is used but various clips of different characters from Disney, Don Bluth, Dreamworks and other animated movies are mixed together.
These animated characters are “cast” as the original movie’s characters. For instance, from the T.V. show, “Jungle Cubs” (based on Disney’s and Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” characters), Young Shere Khan is cast as Young Simba and from Disney’s and A.A. Milne’s “The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh,” Tigger is cast as Adult Simba. BrerDaniel’s channel was suspended after multiple third parties, including Disney, sent Youtube staff complaints of copyright violation. A brand new user, Brian Durose has started working on a crossover between Don Bluth and Steven Spielberg’s “An American Tail” and Don Bluth’s “The Secret of NIMH,” titling the project: “An American Secret of NIMH.” The first two parts have already been blocked on violation of copyright grounds, in support of Universal Studios and MGM Studios that own the rights to these two films. Each of the aforementioned video creations is part of the controversy. Youtube staff has been stricter about protected material policy in recent years than they have before.
Not only are there video creations available on Youtube, but users have created their own documentaries as well. Youtube users, ThatFellowWithACoat and ElectricDragon505 made “A Look Back At Walt Disney Animation Studios” and “Animation Lookback: Walt Disney Animation Studios.” Both documentaries are similar in content as the users—off-camera and on-camera—discuss each Disney film and what happened behind-the-scenes. ThatFellowWithACoat and ElectricDragon505 conduct extensive research and are very informative. Some parts of their “Animation Lookbacks”—be a documentary on Walt Disney’s work or Don Bluth’s work—have been blocked, again, due to copyright. Even with Youtube users’ creative documentaries, copyright infringement is still the debatable case.
On an April 2012 video announcement that TheBeckster1000 posted, she said, “I received an email that I got a strike for two Disney scenes. It was only from ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘Piglet’s Big Movie.’ The parts from the actual film are fine to get rid of. It’s the spoof ideas, which I may consider about soon. If I get anymore copyright notices on Youtube, either it was Disney or not, would this affect me to not do any spoofs whatsoever? The answer to my question is yes. You know, I would feel better if anybody on Youtube don’t bother anyone for creativity, such as spoofs or music videos. Most people got no patience for entertainment on Youtube.”
During a lecture in a Metropolitan State College course: Feature Writing Magazine Articles, an anonymous classmate felt, “On the one hand, it is fun to be creative on the Internet but on the other hand, I would want to protect my copyright.”
Carolyn Richards, professor of Scriptwriting For Video course at Metropolitan State College, expressed how she felt about the debate between Youtube video creativity and copyright:
“I think we are witnessing the growth of a new creative medium where clips from films and TV are the ‘paints’ and ‘brushes’ of developing artists engaged in creating new forms of expression. It’s fun and entertaining and comparable to people getting together casually to play musical instruments, sing songs, read poetry or play a game.
The fact that this activity takes place on the Internet via Youtube makes it possible to expand the circle of participants, which adds to the fun. Unfortunately it also means that the content used is subject to copyright enforcement.”
She continues, “Having worked as a producer with writers, animators, and videographers, I think it is important to respect copyright. It provides a mechanism for those who invest their time, creativity and energy in creating the movies and TV shows we all enjoy, and the producers who finance them, to receive income for their work over a period of time. The doctrine of ‘fair use’ allows for limited reproduction of a particular work if that use is determined to be fair in consideration of certain factors.”
Richards questions, “Are the video creations on Youtube considered ‘educational’ or are they a form of entertainment? Could they be considered commercial or profitable for the creator or are they purely for personal/social use? Do they have an effect upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work? These and other questions must be considered. “
She concludes, “Currently, Youtube acts as a webcasting portal for all kinds of material. It may soon make sense to separate the personal/social activities on Youtube from those that are intended to be webcast for commercial or educational purposes. That may make it easier to determine whether copyright enforcement is needed.”
TheBeckster1000 and a subscribed user known as CoolZDane (renamed Bradley ZDane) do place disclaimers on their videos. Yet, it seems a disclaimer does not prevent any user’s videos from getting blocked. Nor does a disclaimer seem to prevent a user’s channel from suspension. Youtube is usable in a particular Metropolitan State College course: Exploring Folklore, taught by Dr. Enrique Maestas. Students can access Youtube videos as an electronic form—as an alternative—to give class presentations on folklore topics. If SOPA and PIPA were to shut down Youtube, online video access could become limited, especially for students who use the site for educational purposes, not only for fun.
There are some alternative video websites that CoolZDane, ElectricDragon505 and ThatFellowWithACoat make links to. These sites are: Vimeo, ThatFellowWithACoat.com (ThatFellowWithACoat’s official website) and Blip.com. Depending on a person’s computer, each of these video sites work or neither of them work. This has posed a problem for some people trying to watch the aforementioned users’ videos. Vimeo has been subjected to copyright but, as far as it is known, Blip.com has not. As this trend continues, Youtube users and viewers alike, wonder whether or not Youtube will remain online in the future.