SxSW: Stand Up To Content Bullies Panel

I joined New Media Rights at SxSW Interactive in Austin Texas this year for their panel Stand Up To Content Bullies, Know Your Copy Rights. On the panel I recounted my recent battle with Lionsgate Entertainment to have my fair use Buffy vs Edward remix restored after they had it removed from YouTube via a bogus DMCA takedown. I also talked more broadly about YouTube’s content ID system and how it is often abused by large media companies to unfairly remove (or surreptitiously monetize) fair use videos that should be legal under the law.


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YouTube Space LA: The Ethics of Parody Remix

In December 2013, I was invited to give a lecture at the YouTube Space in Los Angeles on my transformative storytelling work, highlighting the fair use questions that arise when remixing video footage for the purposes of parody.

Jonathan McIntosh presenting at the YouTube Space LA

As part of my presentation, I also talked about the ethics of appropriation for the purposed of parody (beyond the legal fair use questions). There is a critical distinction between remixes mocking those occupying positions of power or authority and remixes making fun of those with relatively little privilege in society. It’s the difference between throwing rocks up and throwing rocks down. Barring in mind that there is not necessarily any correct answer, the following are some question I find it useful to ask before remixing media created by other parties.

  • Who own the source media and who is depicted in it?
  • What are the values, myths & messages in the source media?
  • What position(s) of power or privilege do they hold relative to me?
  • With those questions in mind, what is the intention of your remix?

I also had the opportunity to meet a number of YouTubers including Jonathan Mann who makes a song a day on his channel. He also created an amazing parody song of Grand Theft Auto called “GTA5: This is Why We Video Gaming” using Leigh Alexander’s scathing satirical review of the game as lyrics.

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Buffy vs Edward Remix Unfairly Removed by Lionsgate

UPDATE: On January 10th, less than 48 hours after I published this blog post, I received a one line email from The YouTube Team stating simply “The content has been reinstated.” No explanation or other information was provided. But Buffy vs Edward is now back on YouTube and can be viewed here. The copyright infringement “strike” also appears to be gone as my account is once again in good standing. Read the rest of the story below.

Buffy vs Edward unfairly removed

It has been three and a half years since I first uploaded my remix video “Buffy vs Edward: Twilight Remixed” to YouTube. The work is an example of fair use transformative storytelling which serves as a visual critique of gender roles and representations in modern pop culture vampire media.

Since I published the remix in 2009 it has been viewed over 3 million times on YouTube and fans have translated the subtitles into 30 different languages. It has been featured and written about by the LA Times, Boston Globe, Salon, Slate, Wired, Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly and discussed on NPR radio. It was nominated for a 2010 Webby Award in the best remix/mashup category. The video is used in law school programs, media studies courses and gender studies curricula across the country. The remix also ignited countless online debates over the troubling ways stalking-type behavior is often framed as deeply romantic in movie and television narratives.

This past summer, together with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, I even screened the remix for the US Copyright Office at the 2012 hearings on exemptions to the DMCA. Afterward my Buffy vs Edward remix was mentioned by name in the official recommendations by the US Copyright Office (pdf) on exemptions to the DMCA as an example of a transformative noncommercial video work.

“Based on the video evidence presented, the Register is able to conclude that diminished quality likely would impair the criticism and comment contained in noncommercial videos.  For example, the Register is able to perceive that Buffy vs Edward and other noncommercial videos would suffer significantly because of blurring and the loss of detail in characters’ expression and sense of depth.”

-Recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, October 2012 (Page 133)

Despite the clear and rather unambiguous fair use argument that exists for the video, Lionsgate Entertainment has now abused YouTube’s system and filed a DMCA takedown and had my remix deleted for “copyright infringement”. Below is a brief chronicle of my struggle to get Buffy vs Edward back on YouTube where it belongs.

On October 9th 2012 I received a message from YouTube stating that Buffy vs Edward had “matched third party content” owned or licensed by Lionsgate and “ads may appear next to it”. Lionsgate acquired ownership of the Twilight movie franchise in 2012 (via the purchase of Summit Entertainment for 412 million dollars) so the claim appeared to be directed at the 1 minute 48 seconds of footage I quoted from the first Twilight movie in my 6 minute remix.

YouTube notice 1

I always turn all ads off on my remix videos and never profit off them. But sure enough when I checked my channel, Lionsgate was monetizing my noncommercial fair use remix with ads for Nordstrom fall fashions which popped up over top of my gender critique of pop culture vampires. Incidentally this copyright claim also prevented the remix from playing on all iOS devices like iPads and iPhones becuase they are not “monetized platforms“.


I thought perhaps YouTube’s Content ID System had automatically tagged the video and didn’t understand that it was a fair use. In the hopes I could get the mistake cleared up I immediately used YouTube’s built-in process to register a fair use dispute.


Less then 24 hours later however I received another message from YouTube informing me that Lionsgate had reviewed my fair use claim and rejected it, reinstating their claim on the remix and again monetizing the video with intrusive popup ads.

dispute rejected

Concerned at what appeared to be a blatant disregard for fair use previsions, I contacted a lawyer at New Media Rights named Art Neill. New Media Rights drafted a rather detailed 1000 word legal argument citing case law and explaining how Buffy vs Edward was in fact about as clear of an example of fair use as exists. This included fair use arguments for the nature and purpose of the transformative use, amount used and market effect. YouTube’s built-in system now allows for a second round of copyright disputes, called an appeal process. So I returned to YouTube and filed an official appeal of the reinstated bogus copyright claim by Lionsgate using the fair use argument and legal language from my lawyer. (See the full text of the fair use argument we made here.)

Appeal 1

On November 26th 2012, after a month of waiting, I finally got a response stating that Lionsgate had decided to release their copyright claim on my remix. Victory!

Or so I thought.

claim released

That same day I noticed another notification from YouTube saying that my Buffy vs Edward remix had “matched third party content” owned or licensed by Lionsgate and that ads may appear on my video. Wait what? Deja-vu. Hadn’t I just spent nearly 2 months dealing with exactly that? On closer inspection this new claim was for “visual content” owned by Lionsgate and the claim I had just fought and finally won had been for “audiovisual” content. No further information was provided as to what the difference was between the two claims or what content exactly was supposedly infringing.

two claims

It appeared as though Lionsgate just filed two separate infringement claims on the same piece of media.

 Confused and slightly frustrated I once again embarked on repeating the same dispute process as before. I filed my fair use dispute via YouTube’s built-in form exactly as I had the first time around.

Again, just like the first time, it was rejected by Lionsgate within 24 hours and they reinstated their claim on the remix.

So again I filed my second long-form appeal using YouTube’s system, again making the detailed legal arguments crafted by my lawyer at New Media Rights which again lay out very clearly all the fair use arguments. And again, I waited for a response.

On December 18th I received notification from YouTube that Lionsgate had again ignored my fair use arguments, rejected my appeal and this time had the remix deleted from YouTube entirely.

youtube removal

I was dumbfounded. And to add insult to injury I was now locked out of my YouTube account and had a copyright infringement “strike” placed on my channel.

In order to regain access to my account I was also forced to attend YouTube’s insulting “copyright school” and take a test on fair use. Since I’ve been giving lectures on fair use doctrine for artists and video makers for a number of years this was a breeze, but still insulting because my video was not infringing in the first place.


Once I was allowed back into my account I found  that YouTube is now penalizing me for this “strike” by preventing me from uploading videos longer than 15 minutes.

I consulted my lawyer again, and following the advice on YouTube’s copyright FAQ page, he reached out to the representatives of Lionsgate who administer their online content and  had issued the DMCA takedown. What he found out from that correspondence was worrying.

Representatives of Lionsgate, a company called MovieClips that claims to manage Lionsgate’s clips on Youtube, confirmed in an email to New Media Rights that they had filed a DMCA takedown on Buffy vs Edward because I did not want them to monetize the remix. In fact this is exactly what the company’s representative, Matty Van Schoor, said in a response email to New Media Rights on December 20, 2012.

“The audio/visual content of this video has been reviewed by our team as well as the YouTube content ID system and it has been determined that the video utilizes copyrighted works belonging to Lionsgate. Had our requestes to monetize this video not been disputed, we would have placed an ad on the cotent [sic] and allowed it to remain online. Unfortunately after appeal, we are left with no other option than to remove the content.”

No other option? How about recognizing it is fair use and dropping the complaint? They did not answer or even acknowledge our fair use arguments via email, despite fair use being raised multiple times. 

Perhaps this is just the action of a rogue studio, but it hints at a bit of a nightmare scenario for transformative media makers and remix artists. The fear is that fair use will be ignored in favor of a monetizing model in which media corporations will “allow” critical, educational and/or transformative works only if they can retain effective ownership and directly profit off them.

It appears that Lionsgate is attempting to do just that. What if every time The Daily Show made fun of a Fox News clip, News Corp. was allowed to claim ownership over the entire Daily Show episode in order to monetize it?

There are limitations on takedowns. For instance, as Neill from New Media Rights points out, the DMCA Section 512 prohibits knowingly, materially misrepresenting any information in takedown notices. At least one court, the case of the baby dancing to Prince in the Lenz case, has even required that DMCA takedown notice senders consider fair use before sending a takedown.

Buffy vs Edward has now been offline for 3 weeks. Over the past year, before the takedown, the remix had been viewed an average of  34,000 times per month.

Since none of YouTube’s internal systems were able to prevent this abuse by Lionsgate, and our direct outreach to the content owner hit a brick wall, with the help of New Media Rights I have now filed an official DMCA counter-notification with YouTube. Lionsgate has 14 days to either allow the remix back online or sue me. We will see what happens.


This is what a broken copyright enforcement system looks like.

One last note, New Media Rights has offered me invaluable advice and guidance throughout this battle. They are a small, non-profit two lawyer operation on a shoe-string budget fighting to make sure artists like me are heard. So if you can please consider donating to them here.

PS: Until we can get the takedown reversed, you can still watch the HTML5 popup video version of Buffy vs Edward here.


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Wayne Enterprises Television Commercial Remix

Wayne Enterprises :: Everything Everywhere Everyday

It’s no secret that Batman is funded and equipped via Bruce Wayne’s multi-billion dollar fortune and through his ownership of Wayne Enterprises. What you might not know is that Wayne Enterprises is a monster company of truly Orwellian proportions. If the corporation really existed it would most likely be the largest, most powerful company on the planet – bigger than General Electric, Boeing, Chevron and Lockheed Martin combined.

Although primarily known as a military defense contractor, Wayne Enterprises is actually comprised of dozens of subsidiaries involved in all sectors of the economy in Gotham City and around the world (operating in 190 countries). Based on the DC and Batman wikis the corporation includes the following divisions:

Wayne Electronics
Wayne Technologies
Wayne Biotech
Wayne Medical
Wayne Healthcare (which runs the Gotham City healthcare system)
Wayne Pharmaceuticals
Wayne Foods
Wayne Shipping
Wayne Steel
Wayne Automotive
Wayne Shipbuilders
Wayne Aerospace
Wayne Weapons
Wayne Aviation
Wayne Airlines
Wayne Chemicals
Wayne Industries
Wayne Oil
Wayne Botanical
Wayne Mining
Wayne Manufacturing
Wayne Research Institute
Wayne Energy
Wayne Electric
Wayne Studios
Wayne Entertainment (including ownership of The Daily Planet newspaper)
Wayne Records
Wayne Stage
Wayne Television
Wayne Retail

Based on this extensive list of properties and holdings, Forbes’ magazine seems to have severely underestimated the value of the company in their 2007 list of the 25 Largest Fictional Companies. Forbes estimated Wayne Enterprises sales at only $31.3 billion which is a ludicrously low figure for such an omnipresent multinational corporation.

This ad was made as part of the Batman Reimagined film remixing project.

Producer/Editor – Jonathan McIntosh
Voice Actor – Paul Silverman
Logo After Effects – Greg Dorsainville @sciencelifeny

The clips used in this remix were appropriated from dozens of TV ads for real-life corporations with operations or products similar to Wayne Enterprises or its subsidiaries. Specifically “brand identity” ads for General Electric, Boeing, Chevron and Lockheed Martin were used as the basic template for the commercial. Additionally footage was borrowed from the films Batman & Robin, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises trailer and Atlas Shrugged Part 1.

This transformative remix work constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US copyright law. “Wayne Enterprises TV Commercial” was remixed by Jonathan McIntosh and is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 License permitting only non-commercial sharing and remix with attribution.

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ADmented Reality: Google Glasses Remixed with Ads

Video Description:
When I saw Google had somehow forgotten to include any ads in their Project Glass promotional video I just couldn’t resist fixing that little oversight for them. So less then 24 hours after Google released their video I remixed and uploaded my own slightly more realistic version of the augmented reality glasses – now featuring contextual Google Ads for your life!

Of course I’m exaggerating a bit here for visual effect to mimic the modern web browsing experience. Google will probably not be this obvious with their interface but there’s no question the company will be gathering massive amounts of extremely sensitive personal data based on what you look at and for how long. The company may use this data to build detailed consumer profiles and/or sell über targeted ads. Because let’s face it, Google really is just a massive advertising company at heart.

For the record: All of the AdWords used are actual Google ad returns found via Google searches based on the dialog, situation or setting in the original Google video. Yes “Music, Stop!” does actually return an ad asking if you’d like to listen to music.

Google really can’t be too annoyed at this remix because after all I’m just putting Google Ads overtop of a Google video on Google’s owned video hosting service. Still I should point out that they have not yet accepted my video response request on YouTube.

Press & Media:
• The Atlantic – A Remix of Google’s Project Glass Video—Now With Ads
• ABC News – Google Glasses: Will You Want Google Tracking Your Eyes?
• Slate – What’s Missing From Google’s Project Glass Concept Video? Ads!
• Washington Post – Google’s Project Glass gets an ad makeover
• Forbes – Here’s What Google Glasses Will Really Show (Ads, Of Course)
• Huffington Post – Google Glasses With Google Ads Shows Terrible Future Ahead
• Gawker – What Google’s Creepy Cyborg Glasses Will Probably Be Like: Ad-Heavy
• FOX News – Parody Videos Take on Google Glasses Project
• NY Times Bits – The heavily monetized remix of Google’s Project Glass video
• TPM – Google Glasses Get Ads In Hilarious Remix Video
• Fast Company – With Google’s New Glasses, Your Head Is Your Smartphone
• CTV – Google touts connected vision with Project Glass
• San Francisco Chronicle – Google’s Internet glasses a window into isolation
• Smithsonian Magazine – Google Goggles Aim to Augment Reality
• PC Magazine – Wearing Google’s Project Glass
• CNET – Google’s Project Glass: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet
• TreeHugger – Augmented Reality Glasses Offer Peek Into Our Consumerist Future
• Gizmodo – The Five Funniest Google Glasses Parodies
• WSJ All Things D – Google Glasses Complete With Inevitable Annoying Ads
NEW • CNET – Adbusting satirical video sees through Google’s new goggles
NEW • PSFK – Was Google’s Project Glass Created Just To Sell Ads?

Video Still:

Click to see full size image

Further Reading:
Back in February 2012 Sebastian Anthony wrote about the then-rumored Google glasses on Extreme Tech saying – “Remember, Google is ultimately an advertising company, where eyeballs directly translate into money — and it’s hard to get any closer to your eyes than a pair of augmented reality glasses. When you look at a car dealership, Google will be able to display ads from a competitor. When you sit in front of a computer, or TV, or stare through a shop window, the glasses will be able to track your head movements and report back on the efficacy of display ads. Perhaps most excitingly, when you read a newspaper or book or other static medium, Google could even overlay its own, interactive ads.”

Fair Use Notice:
This transformative remix work constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US copyright law. “ADmented Reality” was remixed by Jonathan McIntosh and is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 License permitting non-commercial sharing and remixing with attribution.

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