If you’ve been alive and human recently, then you’re probably familiar with last winter’s “The Lego Movie.” You’re also probably familiar with “Everything is Awesome,” the stand-out pop hit by Tegan and Sara from the movie’s soundtrack. The song, like the movie, proved massively popular, spawning thousands of parodies, fan videos and covers. One such parody, a protest video produced by environmental activism organization Greenpeace, found itself in hot water with Warner Brothers Records, the label that represents the music from the film.
The video, “LEGO: Everything is NOT Awesome,” features a more somber cover of the aggressively cheerful track playing, while flowing oil drowns a series of Lego sets including animals and people. The video was produced by Greenpeace to protest Lego’s sponsorship deal with Shell Oil. Since 2015 the toymaker has produced and sold branded Lego sets featuring the Shell logo as part of a promotional deal. The video, which went viral accumulating over 4 million views, features a cover rather than the original recording of the song. Warner Brothers Records originally demanded that the video be taken down, a request that was granted by YouTube, as Warner Brothers is the rights holder for that song. After finding the decision put under media scrutiny, the label has since reversed their position, allowing the video to return to YouTube.
It’s unclear what motivated Warner Brothers to change their position on the Greenpeace video. The label may simply want to avoid the appearance of taking sides in the dispute between corporations and environmental activists. While YouTube did accept Warner Brother’s assertion that the Greenpeace video constituted an unfair use of their intellectual property, there are dozens of covers of “Everything Is Awesome” on YouTube that have not drawn copyright claims from the label.
It’s possible that the attention of Warner Brothers was only drawn to the parody video by its high view count and emerging viral status. However, a casual YouTube search reveals several fan videos, including some using the original track rather than a cover, with higher view counts than the Greenpeace video. So did Warner Brothers Records simply issue a takedown request in response to an unexpectedly popular cover, or did the record label intentionally attempt to silence a protest on behalf of a corporate partner? Either way it would seem that Warner Brothers has only backed down after realizing they were courting more controversy than originally intended.
Was Warner Brothers just doing their job or did they get caught in the act? Share this article and discuss!
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