Copyright Abuse

Once upon a time, I played a lot of computer games.  Well, maybe not a whole lot, but a decent amount.  Then I got busy.  Then I bought a Mac, and while I love my Macs, I truly miss the gaming experience that comes from PC computing.  For a number of years I lamented that decision.

Then came 2008.  In early 2008, the Navy moved us from Maine to DC (back to my home town) for shore duty in the Pentagon (Holy God does Pentagon duty suck…more on that sometime…maybe…when I feel like torturing you.  No, really.  Jesu Cristo, the head-exploding potential is HUGE there).  We moved into a house in Annapolis after a couple months at my Mom’s house in Kensington while we waited for our house in Maine to sell (we ended up having to do a Short Sale on that one…we got one offer in almost a year on the market and took a $50k loss.  Ouch.  Not that I expect pity from anyone – I know plenty of people took a greater loss than I did.  But that’s haunted us to this day – we’re a few months away from finally paying off the last of the note from that deal).  As we moved in, the Admiral looked at me and said, “We should get a new TV as an anniversary gift to ourselves.”  It was coming up on our official first anniversary at that point.

What man in his right mind would refuse a spousal demand like that?  Not I, said the fly.

I hooked up with an old Elementary School buddy who I still keep in touch with, who worked putting together home theater setups for people, and he got us squared away with a pretty decent system for not a whole lot of $.  Included in that system was a PS-3.  Because “it’s the best Blu-Ray player around”.  Made for a great excuse, right?  🙂

It wasn’t long before I was back to buying video games, only on my console, not on my computer.  Now, this was a big departure for me.  I’d always preferred PC gaming, for a number of reasons, mostly deriving from the purity of it, I think.  I grew up on our Apple IIc, and then my dad’s Compaq portable, and then my own 486/33, and spent a whole lot of time playing awesome INFOCOM games like Zork, then EA games like The Bards Tale and Wing Commander, then moving on to innumerable titles that followed.  To me, video games were COMPUTER games – PC games.  The consoles were pissant wannabes.

But with my new PS-3, that changed.  I couldn’t get awesome games on my Mac, so the awesomeness flowed through my PS-3.  Then, once the kids became old enough to work the controls, they came to like the PS-3 games as well (those that we let them play).  Add to that the kick-ass movie experience that comes from a Blu-Ray player and the cool apps that we could get on the console (Netflix, Hulu, MLB TV, etc), and I had a new electronic love.

So I’ve accumulated a new collection of video games – spoken, console games – for our PS-3.  Along the way, I found a couple online video game reviewers that I like.  Chief among them is Angry Joe.  Well, that’s not really accurate.  I love Angry Joe, and he’s the only one I watch with any frequency.

Angry Joe is awesome.  He riffs off one of my all-time favorite cartoon shows (and comic books, and action figure lines) – GI Joe – and makes hilarious but also hard-hitting reviews of newly released games.  He also comments on developments in the gaming community while keeping it all kinds of fun.  He gets hundreds of thousands of hits on his videos and apparently makes his living through his video game reviews and other content that he posts.  I love tuning in to his videos, whether on YouTube or through his website.

Which is why it pains me to see what YouTube and various copyright holders have been doing to him and other reviewers like him.

Watch these for the details:



I’m admittedly a little behind the times on this, but regardless it pisses me off.  As a Copyright holder myself, I am very sensitive about the rights of the Copyright holders involved here.  But clearly he is using this material for parody and review purposes, which is explicitly protected under US Copyright law.  But despite this, Joe is (was? the last update he posted was two months ago; who knows what’s happened since then.  I only hope it’s good) in danger of losing his business – and thus his livelihood – over this.  IMHO, this is an example of big-money people trying to strong-arm someone with less resources, and YouTube just going along with it blindly.

From what I can tell, YouTube’s policy on these matters is BS.  Joe, and guys like him, gets strikes on his account based on whether someone submits a DMCA takedown notice against him.  Three strikes and his account – his channel, his method of making money for his business – is taken down for good.  And it doesn’t matter if any of the claims were judged invalid later.  Three strikes, no matter their validity in court, and he’s done.  Apparently there’s no appeal.  And worse than that, apparently even if he uses 10 seconds of a property in a 30 minute review, once the notice is put in place the property owner gets 100% of the ad revenue from that video, and never mind  that Joe put hours of effort into making the remaining 29 minutes and 50 seconds of that video, which SHOULD legally be his intellectual property.

On the surface that might sound ok to some.  But a DMCA takedown notice is not a legal finding by a court.  It’s a claim by a copyright holder.  It’s essentially a statement of willingness to sue unless something is done – a demand.

Seems to me a guy like Joe, who is acting in good faith, ought not be paupered over an unsubstantiated threat that has not been borne out by a court finding.  Now, I get that YouTube – Google – does not want to expose itself to unnecessary liability.  But surely a company that boasts the motto “Don’t Be Evil” – and what HELL does that mean?  Talk about a motto for douchebags – and that makes a whole lot of money every quarter can absorb the cost of doing the most minimal investigation to determine which claims have a potential of being valid and which are total BS.  It doesn’t take a lot of effort to differentiate between an honest guy like Joe and a criminal.  Surely Google can do this.

But apparently not.

I really hope Joe’s troubles are resolved satisfactorily.  He’s not the only one to be harassed like this, and IMHO it’s total BS.  If you can afford it, I really hope you’ll go to Joe’s website and show him some support, either via a comment or through a donation.  I don’t know him personally, though I get the impression I’d like to, but he seems like a good guy who doesn’t deserve the BS he’s being subjected to.

Joe, for what it’s forth coming from me, a nobody who owns copyrights that no one cares about at this point in time, I really hope you emerge victorious.  Because this is total BS.