Hard News by Russell Brown


Dancing the DMCA

Well, you can't watch the Air New Zealand parody ad any more. YouTube has responded to what I presume was an appropriately-formulated DMCA takedown request, and yanked the clip, sending this message to Dan, its creator:

This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Air New Zealand Limited claiming that this material is infringing:
Parody: Air New Zealand Commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5EyE5q4fmE

Air New Zealand didn't move against this clip because its copyright was being infringed -- there are tons of Air New Zealand ads on YouTube, and at least one other amusing mash-up of the present campaign.

It did so because it was anxious about the parody alluding to headlines earlier in the week about fears its 2007 campaign (in which a man jumps out a window to fly to his dear old nana, or a young fella leaps off a wharf to fly to his girlfriend) could be seen as encouraging suicide.

When a corporation asserts copyright in this way to quell a message it perceives as damaging to its brand, it is highly likely to have the better of the law, which doesn't mean the process of asserting its rights should be painless.

Anyway, I got my official cease-and-desist letter yesterday, in which Air New Zealand kindly offered to take no further action against me if I immediately "cease and desist from publishing the Advertisement" and "undertake not to infringe intellectual property rights of Air New Zealand in the future." I told them I'd reply today.

The funny thing is that Dan, who created the video, published it on YouTube and posted the link to our site, never heard a word from Air New Zealand's lawyers, even though his contact details were prominently available. How odd.

Meanwhile, the winger commentariat gets progressively more crazed in the aftermath of the VTech shootings: Wouldn't it be great if we could make the VTech killer a Muslim? No, really, one of the more prominent winger blogs, Atlas Shrugs, has a post headed Ismail Ax: America's Beslan, which in a frenzy of misdirected speculation (including yet another wrong-Asian-guy episode), attempts to link Virgina Tech to the global jihad.

Meanwhile the appalling Mark Steyn writes a commentary on the shootings in which he endorses claims of student cowardice in failing to tackle the killer and - because there has to be a Muslim angle, right? - blathers on about a massacre that took place 28 years ago in Canada. The perpetrator in that case wasn't technically a Muslim, but he was, as Steyn "puts it the son of an Algerian Muslim wife-beater, though you’d never know that from the press coverage." (And, of course, you'd never know from Steyn's column that the killer had lived solely with his French-Canadian mother from the age of seven and even officially changed his Algerian surname.) Can we stop calling Mark Steyn a journalist already?

Right out there on the fringe, they know who's really to blame for the massacre: Darwin.

I made the Best Comments column on SARugby.com. Who knew?

Rob O'Neill at NZBC crunches some numbers on online readership and points out that, far from disappearing, the best MSM brands (notably The Guardian and the New York Times) are reaching far more readers now than they did before the internet went mainstream.

The interesting thing is that that The Guardian, easily the most successful paper in terms of online readership, enjoys the status of being owned by a trust rather than a hungry proprietor. The next two big brands, the New York Times and the Washington Post, have also avoided being hawked and traded, and maintain family links to their respective founders.

You know what was cool? Being able sit in front of my computer in Auckland and watch Alberto Gonzales get a very extend grilling in front of a US Senate committee, live via the official video stream.

Book your seats: Richard Dawkins is to be interviewed by Bill O'Reilly next week. One wouldn't think Dawkins would have much trouble on the intellectual front.

Bill Maher on Religion is bad, drugs are good.

And - hey! - up pops video of Norman Mailer and Marshall McLuhan debating in 1968. Cool.

Righto. Public Address Radio, 2pm tomorrow on Radio Live, features an extensive report by David Slack and Nigel McCulloch on WOMAD with a live Gotan Project recording, plus an interview with Steven Price about the Coalition for Open Government, and new contributions from David Haywood and Craig Ranapia.

And I'm on The Panel on National Radio today, with Jeremy Elwood.

Have a nice weekend.

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