Friday, April 23, 2010


The Downfall and Rise of Hitler (Meme)

Can't keep a good dictator down!  

Word broke on, of all days, April 20th -- Adolf Hitler's birthday -- that the often-brilliant YouTube parodies of the German-language "Downfall"  (chronicling Hitler's last days) were to be yanked off the Internets, after distributors, Constantin Film, claimed copyright infringement. YouTube got to work and the parodies started disappearing almost immediately.  

The entire thing struck more than a few people as strange, short-sighted and unfair.  Strange, given that these parodies have been running around the Web for at least three years.  Topics have ranged from Hitler "reacting" to the new Xbox, his car getting towed, Usain Bolt winning the Olympics and Jay Leno going back to "The Tonight Show."  The joke is exactly the same:  Some inventive soul comes up with new subtitles for the "Downfall" scene and -- Voila!! -- let the jokes begin. But Constantin decides to put a stop to this now? But, it's short-sighted too: the parodies actually introduced thousands of people to the existence of the original movie!  The director said that he enjoyed the parodies and realized that a more eyes would now see his work than might have before.  

But, it was also unfair:  Parody usually falls under the legal protection of "fair use." One would have thought that anyone who made a video would be on pretty strong grounds from any possible lawsuit.  

Well, it looks like You Tube itself is siding with the parodists:  The site is actively encouraging resistance by reminding users of its own policies
anyone who uploaded a Hitler video that has been taken down can dispute the takedown by checking a box that says, “This video uses copyrighted material in a manner that does not require approval of the copyright holder.” A dispute immediately restores the video, and the owner of the copyright may then decide to seek a formal takedown through the DMCA’s process.
And, yes, thankfully, Hitler has reacted to the initial banning of the "Downfall" parodies:

It's good to see that if folks decided to raise a little furor, some real change can be made!!

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