To quote my favorite movie: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
NMR has taken quite a shine to Bart Baker since we got to hang with him not so long ago. And it is with that shine, that we noticed something troubling — the publishing company that handles the music rights for Lorde’s song “Royals” filed a complaint against Baker’s video parody of said song, claiming Baker stole their “musical composition.” As such, YouTube did what YouTube does and pulled the video without judging whether it truly was in violation of any copyright statutes. Here’s a little hint though: It freaking wasn’t. Clearly what Baker does is parody and is thus firmly protected behind the rights of the First Amendment of the Constitution. I could go on and on, citing fake cases such as “Weird Al vs. Everyone Else in Music,” but that wouldn’t be germane to what, realistically, is a very serious issue right now.
Baker has allegedly already filed a counterclaim to get his video back up, but that is a process that will take anywhere from 10-14 days (especially because YouTube executives are so busy deleting fake views from videos right now). It is also a process that will cost Baker severely in total views and income. This is not a game, son. People’s livelihoods are being, let’s say, jacked with, over this maneuvering from the publishing house.
Baker isn’t going to take this lying down though. If you’ve been over to his Twitter account lately, you’ve picked up on the hashtag #SaveBartsLordeParody — to bring public awareness to this injustice. It’s essentially a nicer tactic than I would use. I would be more inclined to find out where this publishing company is and pee through their mail slot for the next 10 years (but then, that’s why I am in rage counseling).
Bart says in the video: “This isn’t just for me, it’s for all YouTubers and content creators at large and their first amendment right to free speech. Publishers can’t just go around and delete videos because they feel like it. No one should be allowed to censor legal artistic response.” He brings up a good point. Baker is an established creator who will survive this irritation of rights. I shudder to think how many smaller creators have been bullied out by this publishing company (who though it is easy enough to find their name, shall remain nameless here on the off chance that ALL publicity really is GOOD publicity) and others like it.
It’s almost a mystery why these publishing houses even complain — it’s not exactly a secret that these sorts of parody videos can be ENORMOUSLY beneficial to publishing houses. Why, not more than a couple days ago, NMR reported on how Steve Kardynal’s video parody of “Wrecking Ball” put Miley Cyrus’ song back in first place on the Billboard Hot 100 (taking the top spot, appropriately, from Lorde’s “Royals”).
YouTube, after taking heat on this issue from Hollywood before, has designated two classes of channels for creators in multi-channel networks: “affiliates” and “managed.” Managed channels are covered by the MCNs in cases of copyright, affiliate channels aren’t. But even with Baker having a so-called managed” channel, it didn’t stop YouTube from pulling the plug as soon as soon as someone issued a copyright complaint. This is an injustice that affects everyone — from top creators on down to the creators whose two videos of a pug rolling around in a towel only have, like, six views total. If this weird little community of ours is to continue and thrive, we’ve got to figure out a way to effect a change. And not one that allows videos to be instantly yanked because someone somewhere cried foul. So go to #SaveBartsLordeParody — not just to back Bart Baker and his cause, but to voice your disapproval of the whole damn mechanism that allows any of this to happen to anyone.
Here are some other NMR articles that deal with YouTube and copyright issues: