I recently returned to my account on YouTube and saw that two of my more popular videos have been removed for copyright violation (more specifically Lionsgate’s copyright). One was a comparison videoof the Bye Bye Birdie Patio Diet ad from Mad Men. The other one was my tribute to Patrick Swayze: I posted the iconic Dirty Dancing scene on the day that he died.

These videos had been up for ages and apparently passed YouTube’s automated content checker. So when I returned to see that they were removed, I naturally felt a little insulted and annoyed. To make matters worse, YouTube’s wording in regards to disputing a takedown is rather aggressive: “There are very few valid reasons for disputing a claim.”

Firstly, you have to wonder just why on earth Lionsgate is wasting its time taking my videos down. I highly doubt that my videos would be hurting their revenues. In fact, it just might improve their sales.

For example, let’s say someone just heard about Patrick Swayze’s death. He might search for that on news sites and maybe even YouTube. My video was entitled “RIP Patrick Swayze – Iconic scene from Dirty Dancing (1987)”. It is a minute and fifteen seconds long. It begins with Baby dancing with Johnny, switching roles with him as the dominant instructor. It ends with her pseudo-boyfriend entering the room, interrupting their dirty dancing. With the feature film running for 100 minutes, my video shows 1.25% of the film. It does nothing to tell anything about the story. All you see is a pretty young woman (suggestively) dancing with a handsome man. It is an iconic scene, but it doesn’t really mean anything to anybody who hasn’t seen the movie. I would know: I never watched the film before I saw the clip featured in How I Met Your Mother.

When I saw that on the TV show, I thought Baby was the dominant one. In fact, it was Johnny who was the aggressor. The reason that scene is so sexy is because of the flirtation and the reversal of roles (that and they are two pretty people doing some very saucythingswithout actually using any of their genitals). I digress.

The thing is, if someone found my video and watched it (not that comparison video, but the clip on its own), they could easily become intrigued by the clip and proceed to purchase the DVD to watch the entire film. I don’t see that there is any revenue being lost out on with the use of my little clip. As far as I know, Lionsgate is not selling movie clips for usage. I can understand if someone might download my video clip and use it in their commercial production, but in that case I believe the real issue at hand would be the blatant violation of copyrights by that other person, not me.

Furthermore, the clip is not for commercial use. I did not sell it or use it in a video I am selling or anything of that nature. There are no links to ads or a referral link to the movie or anything of that nature. It was a simple tribute to Patrick Swayze.

All of the same points apply to my Bye Bye Birdie comparison video. There is no context surrounding the clip. All you see is the Mad Men adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie for Patio Diet, and then the same (opening) scene of the actual film. In this case, I personally believe that it’s fair use. One could argue that the Dirty Dancing clip serves no purpose on its own: it is not included in any new content. But this Bye Bye Birdie clip was certainly used to compare the differences between the adaptation and original.

I don’t know yet if I am going to bother disputing the claim on YouTube. After all, I am not an intellectual property expert, nor am I a lawyer. But it just seems silly to me that that Lionsgate would pay a salary to a bunch of folks to scour the Internet to take down videos such as mine. Such is the way of the world now, now that corporations have gotten immensely wealthy and thusly immensely powerful. Lobbyists and such ensure that the well-monied stay in power. I’m no political scientist, but this surely isn’t the way to go.

Point of Interest: Fair Use under United States Law