As Israel went offline for the Jewish sabbath, YouTube removed most versions of Latma’s hit parody song We Con the World. If you try to access the song on YouTube you receive the notification:
This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Warner/ Chappell Music, Inc. .
Copyright experts we advised with before posting the song told us in no uncertain terms that we were within our rights to use the song because we did so in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine. The Fair Use Doctrine, copied and pasted below from the US Copyright Office stipulates that it is legal and permissible to use copyrighted material under the fair use doctrine for purposes of parody.
Copyright attorneys also warned us that given our clearly lawful use of the song We are the World, if anyone wished to silence our voices, they wouldn’t target us. Instead they would target YouTube. It is YouTube’s standard practice to remove any material that they receive even the flimsiest threat for because the company wishes to avoid all litigation.
At the same time, this is not YouTube’s first move to silence Israeli voices. During Operation Cast Lead, the IDF Spokesman’s Unit established a YouTube channel and began posting combat footage on its channel to bypass the anti-Israel media and go directly to news consumers.
Shortly after the IDF channel began making waves, YouTube – which is owned by Google – removed IDF videos from the website. After the move evoked a storm of protest, YouTube restored them but flagged the videos in the same manner it flags pornography. People trying to access the videos received a screen saying, “This video or group may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube’s user community. To view this video or group please verify that you are 18 or older by singing in and signing up.”
If YouTube didn’t already have a track record for censoring pro-Israel material, I would say that despite the obviously frivolous and unsubstantiated nature of the copyright claim against We Con the World, the company was simply erring on the side of caution.
The fact that more than 3 million people have already seen the video and that it has been written up in major newspapers and featured on major television networks around the world since we first posted it last Thursday night however causes me to fear that something else is going on here.
Despite these obstacles, we at Latma have no intention of crying Uncle. By tomorrow, we will repost our song on blogs throughout the world. If you already downloaded the song, please post it on your website. If not, I will post a non-youtube version on my site tomorrow with instructions from my webmaster about how to download it.
Moreover, stay tuned for our next video next Thursday night.
If someone is in fact trying to silence our voices, they will soon discover that they are messing with the wrong Jews.
One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the copyright law (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years and has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.
Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.
Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.
The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”
Copyright protects the particular way an author has expressed himself. It does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in the work.
The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material. The Copyright Office cannot give this permission.
When it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted material should be avoided unless the doctrine of fair use would clearly apply to the situation. The Copyright Office can neither determine if a certain use may be considered fair nor advise on possible copyright violations. If there is any doubt, it is advisable to consult an attorney.
FL-102, Revised May 2009