Monday, April 26, 2010

Steiner ist REALLY nicht fucking angekommen

I came across this over at Armchair Generalist; it seems that some pissant outfit named "Constantin Film AG" has been harassing YouTube into taking down parodies of the now-viral "bunker rant" scene from their movie "Downfall" ("Der Untergang").

Here's a parody of that, courtesy of Zaquery Green, on the much-less well known Vimeo website.

This is actually pretty infuriating. The Copyright Act of 1976 (17 U.S.C. § 107) and subsequent decisions such as Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., Mattel v. Walking Mountain Productions, and Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin clearly lay out parody as a "fair use" of copyrighted material. Not to mention that the damn flick would be scarcely known outside the German-speaking world without these parodies.

My world is a little darker knowing that driftglass' brilliant "Little Richie Daley Reacts to Losing The Olympics" parody can no longer be viewed through his, or my, blog. I know that we're all wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporate media and their whores. I know that our modern media culture has no integrity and will bend over for the bemonied, belawyered interests that run the house. But it's nice to forget that for a moment and just have a laugh. Until you're reminded of Who Owns You.

So curse you, snippy and humorless little Constantin Film AG. Curse you, testicle-free YouTube. You are helping to ensure that we are truly living in a debased time.

6 comments:

Ael said...

Fair use is an American (only) legal concept. I would expect the film to carry a German copyright.

Global copyright reform is overdue and the current legislative climate is taking it in the wrong direction.

It will take decades to untangle the mess we are currently creating.

Lisa said...

"Constantin Film AG"? Humorless, ethnocentric German film production company. What else?

Yesterday Breitbart posted NSA Retd. Gen. James Jones opening a hearing on the Mideast peace process with an anti-Semetic joke. See NSA Jones telling Jews-as-greedy-merchants joke here.

As one commenter said, where were the pickaninny and faggot jokes. Another questioned the audience, which erupted into polite guffaws.

Who are these people? Are we that clueless? Not appropriate for that venue, from that speaker.

Ditto censoring humorous bits from films posted on the interwebs, whatever the topic.

FDChief said...

Ael: I'm sure that it does. Since when does German law apply in France, the United Kingdom, Brazil or the U.S.?

YouTube is a U.S.-based corporation and as such is free to follow the USC. If Germany wishes, it may prosecute YouTube in Germany and if YouTube had any balls it would tell the German federal prosecutor to bring it on. The notion, regardless of the country of origin, that a work may be protected from parody, criticism, reference or other uses outside the original content is a one-way street to sterility and intellectual dead-endism.

If Germany wishes to quash creative adaptations of copyrighted materials, let them. Perhaps they can develop ther own video server (let's call it "DuTuben") that will follow their copyright laws on international materials in their country. And YouTube can do the same here following U.S. code.

We'll see where the market goes.

Lisa: I think the difference here is between one idiot shooting his mouth off and a corporate entity using its muscle to quash relatively powerless individuals. The only similarity I can see is the cravenness of many of the bystanders in both cases. Nobody wants to call the assholes on their assholery - "Don't make no waves, don't back no losers" as we used to say in the Chicago of old Mayor Daley.

In the Jones case what I see on display is the human tendency to toady to "important" people, to want to be "liked" rather than be willing to stand up to power can call it a fucking dick.

In the "Downfall" case, it's more about money; YouTube fears the economic power of the German state imposing sanctions on them for following the laws of their country rather than the German company's.

This, to me, seems more clear-cut as a bad call legally. Would you expect, say, an American author, writing here, and published by an American publisher, to write according to British libel laws even though the subject of his prose was British?

I think YouTube is wrong to bend to Constantin Film. They called China on this issue and now they're going to fold to Germany? Buying trouble, if you ask me.

Ael said...

If YouTube does business in the USA, it has to obey American law. If YouTube does business in Germany, it has to obey German law.

If it does business in both places, it has to obey *both* German and American law.

FDChief said...

Ael: That doesn't sound legally correct. Does that mean that if my company trades in Germany that my operations in the U.S. are regulated by German law? I have to obey U.S. law in the U.S., German law in Germany.

You have a good point about the problem of international e-commerce. The distinction is blurred; if YouTube's content can be accessed in both nations, whose laws need to be followed?

But the solution seems pretty straightforward to me: YouTube can set up a filter to block certain content to German IP addresses while allowing "fair use" to those nations that allow it. By simply rolling over for Constantin Film they're encouraging the most restrictive standard currency. This seems to me to set a poor precedent - what is to preserve U.S. "fair content" laws then? Why souldn't Paramount, say, invoke the same restriction because some parody of a Paramount film can be seen in Britain or Germany or Sri Lanka where such parodies are forbidden by law?

ISTM that a content provider truly smart enough to see the end of this road from the beginning would be concerned. And YouTube also has the option to cease doing business in Germany if it feels that the burdens of German law are over-onerous to its U.S. and other national subscribers.

YouTube - and other content providers - have an opportunity here to give Germany the option to choose between losing content and liberalizing their law - a perfect "the market at work for the benefit of everyone" kind of situation.

But the "don't make no waves, don't back no losers" legal philosophy seems to be in play here. I think it's a bad idea, and I think that it's letting the media bully camel's nose under the fair use tent.

But that's just me.

Rick said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJDAtb2B5EM

The Fuehrer has been dating Lady Gaga