Joe Vargas, who makes the fantastic The Angry Joe Show on YouTube, isn’t a complete stranger to Techdirt’s pages. You may recall that this angry reviewer of all things pop culture swore off doing reviews of Nintendo products a while back after Nintendo prevented Vargas from monetizing a review of a a game. The whole episode highlighted just how out of touch companies like Nintendo can be with this sort of thing, given how many younger folks rely on reviews like Vargas’ to determine where they spend their gaming dollars. Coupled with the argument that these commentary and review videos ought to constitute use of footage as fair use and it’s hard to see why any of this was worth it to Nintendo.
Or CBS, apparently. CBS recently got Angry Joe’s YouTube review of ‘Picard’ taken down, claiming copyright on the 2 thirteen-second videos of the show’s publicly available trailer that Vargas used in the review.
Assholes at @CBS @CBSAllAccess Blocked Worldwide my Star Trek: Picard Review for daring to show 13 seconds of the Publicly Available Trailer too close to another 13 seconds of the Trailer. A Manual block btw. What happened to fair use? @startrekcbs @StarTrek @StarTrekNetflix #wth pic.twitter.com/qcZVKL3Us9
— Joe Vargas (@AngryJoeShow) January 27, 2020
This is normally where some folks would suspect that ContentID or some automated system saw the images, resulting in an automated DMCA notice. Except that, as Vargas points out in his Twitter post, this was a manual block. Somebody at CBS saw Vargas’ use of the footage and manually requested that the video be taken down on copyright grounds.
And that’s crazy. First, the use of clips like this to discuss a review or critique of content is squarely within the grounds of fair use.
Based on the screenshot, it appears that Vargas was discussing the clips while they were on-screen and Vargas argues that this should constitute fair use – a provision in copyright law that allows copyrighted material to be used without permission from the copyright holder for transformative purposes such as commentary and criticism.
Add to that the clips were from the publicly available trailer footage and this makes even less sense. The trailers are out there for anyone to see. Hell, the entire point of trailers is to be widely disseminated to entice interest in the show. Blocking their use would seem to be at odds with the marketing goals of CBS.
And, yet, here we are, with CBS taking down a video for using trailer footage in a way that is clearly fair use. But some say YouTube doesn’t have a copyright enforcement problem? Please.
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