Ajit Pai’s Video Removed From YouTube After Copyright Complaint

A lot of anger is boiling over after Ajit Pai lead the FCC to scrapping network neutrality. Now, one label has taken matters further by taking down Pai’s video.

The network neutrality repeal at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stirred a lot of emotions in the US. Lawmakers and other government officials are already initiating action to stop the repeal dead in its tracks. Ordinary American’s are also signing petitions to demand Pai’s resignation. Now, one record label and an artist took things a step farther.

AVClub is reporting that Pai released a video claiming that everything is now fine with the Internet. He supposedly listed things you can still do on the Internet after the repeal. The video ended with the Harlem Shake. The video was apparently produced with the help of right wing website The Daily Caller. With that song being used at the end of the video, it seems that it has sparked a very particular backlash. The artist doesn’t approve of the use of the track and the record label decided to take action to take the video down. From the report:

A few days ago—in what was, somehow, only the third or fourth-most obnoxious thing he’s done this week—FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai released a video onto the internet, mocking critics of his ongoing plan to destroy net neutrality regulations by purporting to show all the things people will still be able to do once they’re gone. (Which misses the whole point of people’s arguments against his plan, but we’ve vented enough spleen about that already.) Pai—working with conservative site The Daily Caller—capped his video off with the fucking Harlem Shake of all things, a meme so old that it doesn’t even clear the bar of notability for a joke about running memes into the ground.

Meanwhile, though, that particular musical cue has attracted the ire of the people who own and created it, with “Harlem Shake” author Baauer and record label Mad Decent—which is owned by producer Diplo—both expressing their anger at its use. Mad Decent went so far as to issue an official statement about the video, stating that it intends to do everything in its power to take the mocking, arrogant missive down.

“I’m Taking action. Whatever I can do to stop this loser” Baauer tweeted.

Mad Decent tweeted, “Official statement re the use of “Harlem Shake” in Daily Caller’s video of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: neither Mad Decent nor Baauer approved this use nor do we approve of the message contained therein. We have issued a takedown will pursue further legal action if it is not removed.”

The AVClub suggested that the music could fall under fair use. However, the video was posted on YouTube. As anyone who has followed copyright law and the impact it has on the Internet no doubt knows, the DMCA takedown procedure on YouTube doesn’t really care about Fair Use. So, whether or not there is clear grounds for Fair Use is pretty much irrelevant thanks to the system put in place at the major record label and movie studios behest.

The outcome, of course, is predictable. The Verge is reporting that the video was actually taken down for about seven hours. According to the report, the Daily Caller who co-produced the video incorrectly blamed Google for the takedown, saying that it is a blatent act of political censorship. It is, of course, copyright censorship that is politically motivated by a producer and a record label.

Advocacy groups were apparently asked about what they thought about it. From the report:

“I was doing my level best to avoid seeing that video, but now that I have: the video is indeed a classic instance of fair use and not a proper subject of a DMCA takedown whatever the motivation,” says Corynne McSherry, the legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which also vehemently opposed Pai’s policy proposals.

“That said, to send a takedown notice for purely political reasons, assuming that is what Baauer did, is even more improper — and sadly all too common. EFF may share Baauer’s concerns about net neutrality, but abusing the DMCA is not the right way to fight for it.”

If anything, it highlights a long standing problem with the take down system that has been put in place. Fair Use simply isn’t recognized. There are very few, if any, instances where the identity of the rightsholders are confirmed before the takedown even take place. It’s largely assumed that the accusation is accurate and the take down takes place. Using the DMCA to take down political speech on YouTube is a very long standing problem and has happened many many times in the past. So, this event isn’t particularly novel in any way.

Still, with tensions boiling over, it’s only going to get more and more difficult for calm debate to take place because so many are fed up at this stage. Millions of American’s were ignored through the public consultation process and there is that perception that Pai can pretty much do whatever he likes without consequence. So, while it may not be the most condoned action in the world to abuse the DMCA like this, it’s not actually surprising either.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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