Friday, June 17, 2016

I Got Sent to Copyright School

So, it hasn’t exactly been a stellar few weeks. I’ve been dealing with many personal issues and doing a lot of moping/feeling sorry for myself. What I needed was a distraction, so I took to YouTube. No, not to record a bunch of weepy, “woe is me” video journals, but to upload some genre rarities and work on revamping B-Movie Bonanza, a movie commentary project I started back in 2014, but let fall by the wayside.

For B-Movie Bonanza, I wanted to record commentaries for films outside the mainstream. Cult films, nade-for-television camp fests, and a few hidden gems. A lot of the stuff I had on my calendar had yet to see new life on DVD, or had been released in crudely edited versions (i.e. Prom Night III), so I wanted to make it easy for my listeners (all five of you) to have a source with which to follow along. Since many of these movies are so obscure, I knew it was up to me to provide that source.

I spent many hours uploading content to my YouTube channel (this includes new episoes of B-Movie Bonanza). Some of the films I’d already recorded commentaries for, others I’d intended on adding to the roster. And then there were the films so obscure and hard-to-find that I wanted millenials who’d never experienced what it was like to rent a film on VHS (the only source for some of these movies) to enjoy. In other words, I thought I was doing something good for mankind. A service to the future generations, if you will.

Yes, I fully admit that many of the films were protected by copyright law, but I figured if I were in violation, I’d just receive some sort of “cease and desist” e-mail from the YouTube powers-that-be. All I’d have to do would be remove the file and no harm done. Right? Yeah, not so much.

While perusing my video manager earlier this evening, I came to find one of my uploads had been taken down. I found this a little strange, as in the past, I’d receive a notification that the file had been blocked in certain territories due to copyright infringement. Not wanting to step on any toes, I’d just remove the file from my catalogue. I found it a little strange that the file had already been removed for me. I read on.

Turns out I’d been reported by the copyright holder of a poorly made, ridiculously bad, shot-on-video shitfest called Cenetery Sisters. Because of this, I got a strike added to my account. The copyright holders, a pair of doofballs who call thmselves “slasher // video,” provided Olive Films with content to produce a DVD edition of the “film” (the goddamn thing is literally 59 minutes long) last year, so they didn’t particularly appreciate my upload. Fair enough. I assumed that since the video had been taken down and I’d been properly penalized, the whole thing was over and done with. Wrong again.

In order to access my YouTubechannel, I had to complete “Copyright School.” In all actuality, it sounds a lot worse than it is. You just have to watch a video, correctly answer a few questions, and you’re in the clear (unless, of course, you make another violation). While all this sounds like a slap on the wrist, I had no idea the barrier I’d crossed by uploading a shitty little movie like Cemetery Sisters, and what lay ahead should I become a repeat offender.

The Copyright School video stresses that it’s wrong to upload content you didn’t create. Fair enough. But it goes on to threaten the offender with thousands of dollars in fines, jail time, and *gasp* permanent suspension of my YouTube privileges.

They may seem silly and nonsensical (and in a lot of ways, they are), but I work pretty hard putting together the content for B-Movie Bonanza (I know, I know, just as hard as the filmmakers who created the content I uploaded sans permission). I’d hate to see it all taken down just because I’d made the mistake of uploading something I shouldn’t have. And, if I end up doing time, it sure as hell won’t be over a shitfest like Cemetery Sisters, or a couple of doofballs like the “slasher // video” guys. So, I went ahead and removed all content, with the exception of the posted episodes of B-Movie Bonanza, from my channel. Even the stuff not presently copyrighted.

It bums me out that all the work I’d done over the past few weeks is down the tubes (pun intended) and that those five listeners of my silly little podcast won’t have a copy of certain movies to watch with me. But in all honesty, I spend much of each episode rambling on about personal experiences and the good old days of my local mom and pop videostore that video accompaniment isn’t really mandatory.

The moral of the story? Don’t cross the “slasher // video” doofballs. You, too, might end up getting sent to Copyright School.