I just got done watching an interesting video on YouTube. Someone cut together “The Shining” into a 2 minute trailer that made it look like a romantic comedy. Before that, I saw a comedic movie review of “Super Mario Bros: The Movie.” All too often, these kind of videos, often called remixes, are taken down. The YouTube brass are caught between a rock and a hard place when CBS Viacom, HBO Time Warner, and Comcast NBC Universal come calling and order a video taken down for violation of copyright law. This is a tricky issue.
What is a remix? Essentially, remixes are as old as the written note in an orchestral piece. A remix is the art of creating a new version of a written song or recording and re-editing elements of the existing material. Many people, throughout the years have taken a previously written song and re-write it and record it to fit the artists style. With the advent of video, we have seen a trend of people who know how to edit VHS tape and create funny remixes of commercials, MTV music videos, and late night creature features. Decades later, YouTube is born, and now you can share your song and movie remixes with the entire world.
This doesn’t make the original creators of this content happy. Why? Number one, you are using Copyrighted material without the permission of the artist or owner of the property. Number two, you are making money off of your remix, which is not going to the original owner. This is where things get interesting. There is a loophole in Copyright law, where you can use material that you don’t own, like a movie, and critique it while showing the film, or recording a comedy track that either spoof’s or satirizes the material.
I feel that people shouldn’t be fined by using copyrighted material on YouTube, or any other video streaming site. You are essentially promoting that product to people that may not have heard of the material. You just shouldn’t be able to monetize your video. Videos should be monetized when under Fair Use, because video creators are not only promoting the product, they are also actually creating worth-while content that educates, informs, satirizes, or spoofs the copyrighted material. Studios, record labels, and television networks should open up to this idea. It can benefit them in the long run.