It should be a YouTube artist’s great moment when their video that only thousands of people have seen gets publicity as part of a segment of a long-running late night program.
However, when Brian Kamerer and Travis Irvine wanted to keep their 2007 video of Irvine’s comical mayoral campaign ad on YouTube, they got shut down by Jay Leno and NBC. Why? In 2009, two years after Irvine’s campaign, Leno featured the video without their permission on the show. For Kamerer and Irvine, it was a good moment for them to have their video on NBC but keeping it seemed like a farce to them as NBC had their video taken down due to copyright law.
Kamerer and Irvine aren’t going down with a fight, even though Kamerer admitted that it’s an uphill battle because Leno has “more cars than I have dollars, and so I know I don’t stand a chance legally, and on top of that, I don’t really understand how legal stuff works.”
In his long, dramatic open letter to Jay Leno and NBC (with a short skit titled “The Story of Jay F**king Over Brian and Travis summarizing what the duo might have thought happened at NBC), Kamerer blasted them for blocking the video that they made themselves back in 2007.
“Your company NBC just up and blocked our video and claimed that we are copyright infringers!” he said in his letter posted on Splitsider. “But we are not! We made it! And this is the video that you said you loved! Now, if you try to watch our video (and again this is the video that had nothing to do with you until you used it in your show without asking) on YouTube it’s just a big black sign that basically says, ‘the makers of this video stole this video from NBC, so you can’t watch it!’ Jay, what in the hell is going on here?”
Fortunately for Kamerer and Irvine, you can watch the original video on Funny or Die.
I’m sure many of us in the Internet community are wondering as well. Why would NBC decide to pull a video from 2007 that they showed on Jay Leno’s program in 2009 for copyright violations that isn’t theirs? More importantly, who owns the rights to a video?
According to YouTube’s Terms of Service, users retain all ownership rights in your content but as with any platform, there is a catch.
The next sentence states, “However, by submitting Content to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and YouTube’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.”
Maybe YouTube gave NBC permission to use the Kamerer-Irvine video? Who knows. Whatever the case, it is clear that NBC doesn’t have the right to take down their video just because that Jay Leno posted the video on The Jay Leno Show a few years back. This action has only released a can of worms against creators, who may get screwed if the bigwigs decide to play dirty.