In Which CW 11, YouTube, and Improv Everywhere Demonstrate What’s Wrong with Intellectual Property Law
From the droll subversives at Improv Everywhere: CW 11 Files Copyright Claim. Basically, they faked a scene-gone-bad on April 1, uploading a video to YouTube that showed them crashing a funeral. Which would have been in really poor taste, obviously, but it’s the sort of poor taste the group has shown in the past, so it was at least somewhat credible on the face of it. But it was April 1, and as everyone knows, everything on the Web should be assumed to be false on that day until proven otherwise. (Personally, I just ignore the Web completely on April 1, except to grumble about the unfunnyness of perpetrating pranks that require essentially zero effort. But I digress.)
I wouldn’t have bothered posting about this, except for what happened next: a local TV news crew at CW 11 was apparently taken in by the prank, and aired the group’s YouTube video while the bubblehead talked over it about how the group had perpetrated a hoax-gone-bad. So then Agent Todd posted the video of the “news” segment on YouTube. And then Tribune, the owner of the newscast, sent a copyright violation notice to YouTube and had the video pulled. Writes Agent Todd:
So it’s OK for them to air content that we shot and own, but it’s not OK for me to upload their footage of the content they took from me? It’s “fair use” for the news to take a video off of YouTube and broadcast it, but it’s not “fair use” for a citizen to expose their poor reporting on his own content?
Of course, it has occurred to me that the whole story about the CW 11 news team covering the video could itself be a prank. True, the April 1 window has closed, but that never stopped Improv Everywhere before. And shortly after the above thought occurred to me, it occurred to me that actually, I don’t really care. And shortly after that, I stopped writing this item.