The story: About a month ago we noticed that one of the videos on our LAMPlatoon YouTube channel–a remix of the popular Fiat 500 Abarth commercial which premiered during last year’s Super Bowl–was taken down due to a copyright infringement claim on the commercial by a company called R.T.I. Obviously we were very concerned, particularly as the video in question is one of the most-viewed videos on the LAMPlatoon channel, and after reviewing the case we decided to dispute the claim. We look carefully at all LAMPlatoon videos before they are posted to make sure they fall within the guidelines of both fair use and the mission of the LAMPlatoon project. We went over the factors and determined that the video should be protected because the original commercial was necessary to the commentary, the remix edits transformed the meaning of the ad, plus the video was made for educational purposes and we don’t make any money from it. Earlier this week we found out that our counternotification succeeded, and the video is now back up on YouTube! Check it out below, or click here to watch it in all its YouTube glory.
But questions remain. For one thing, we never learned on what grounds R.T.I. believed that we were infringing on their copyright. Of course they probably didn’t like that we were taking apart their commercial and exposing their use of stereotypes and sexism to sell a sports car, but tough luck. We were exercising our fair use rights, and, we believe, contributing to a more democratic and engaged media culture. For another thing, YouTube never contacted us to let us know that a copyright infringement claim had been made and that our account was not in good standing as a result; we only found out from monitoring the channel ourselves. Also, how difficult was it for R.T.I. to swear their ownership of the commercial which resulted in the video takedown? Did they have to demonstrate that they owned the commercial or some portion of it, and if so, how? We understand that if YouTube were to deeply investigate every copyright claim made on a video posted to their site, they’d be mired with work. But a copyright infringement allegation is a serious thing, or at least it should be, and the onus is on them to find a way to work it out and be responsible.
All that having been said, this isn’t the first time a LAMPlatoon video has been challenged for copyright infringement, and it certainly won’t be the last. So far, we’ve successfully challenged every video takedown notice posted to the LAMPlatoon channel on grounds of fair use. If you’re ready to take a stand against irresponsible media, you can start today by making a LAMPlatoon video yourself (click here for submission information and guidelines). It doesn’t take a ton of time or technical skill and we’re here to help. You can also subscribe to the LAMPlatoon channel to keep up with our efforts. Fair use rights are a critical component of an open democracy, but it’s up to you to use them…or risk losing them.