Monday, June 25, 2007

Pirate hard?

The NYT reports that a band's unauthorized video using clips from the first three Die Hard movies was first pulled from YouTube by Fox's request, then returned with additional studio-provided content from the upcoming sequel when the studio realized it was a powerful promotional device.

A couple of observations: First, about tone -- the story begins, "The story seems familiar to online video users: fans create a parody video using pirated studio content and post it on YouTube, and the studio’s lawyers quickly have it removed for violating copyright law."

"Pirated"? Let's be clear: this is a 3-minute video, not 6 hours of Die Hard. There's no indication that the clips were taken from unauthorized copies, and most fan video makers I know work from authorized copies when they can. So now making parodies based on an original is piracy? And I guess all those yearbook quotes from copyrighted works are looted booty.

Second, the tribute to the movies had a reasonable fair use defense. With the makers now not just licensed, but paid, for the video, however, Fox can now claim there's more evidence that unauthorized videos interfere with its legitimate market. Since Fox is the one paying, it's hard to say the unauthorized user gets for free something for which she'd ordinarily pay -- but these are early times in remix video licensing. I'd also expect aggressive lawyers to suggest that, like cybersquatters, remix video makers are hoping for a similar payout.

1 comment:

Bob Cumbow said...

Thanks for coming down hard on the media for the increasingly sloppy use of the term "piracy." Too many of the reporters who are entrusted with covering this topic, and educating the public on intellectual property issues, seem to use the terms "infringement," "theft," "counterfeit," and "piracy" interchangeably--and, God help us, most of them don't even know the difference between copyright and trademark.