YouTube’s biggest solo creator PewDiePie has slammed the company that issued a “bullshit” copyright claim against his recent “Reviewing Memes With KSI” video over a satirical 34-second melody.
The video was the latest entry in his popular “Meme Review” video series which is geared around reviewing and reacting to popular memes.
For this 31 minute plus edition of Meme Review, PewDiePie had invited popular YouTuber KSI to co-host and towards the end of the show, they reviewed a meme featuring flutes and French horns. This prompted PewDiePie and KSI to start discussing the instruments they own and end the video with a 34 second satirical and very loose rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”
The rendition involves PewDiePie playing a block flute and KSI playing the French horn. It bears little resemblance to the original melody because it contains lots of laughter and out of tune notes.
Additionally, the entire segment takes up around 34 seconds of a 31 minute plus video which represents less than 2% of the entire video length.
Due to the lack of similarity between the original melody and this rendition and the small duration of the segment, the rendition would usually qualify for fair use – a provision in copyright law that allows the use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder.
But because copyright claims ultimately have to be decided in court, the only ways to rectify false claims when YouTube sides with the claimant is to either drive enough mass attention to a false claim so that YouTube reverses it or file a legal challenge (which is often time-consuming and expensive).
In this instance, YouTube has sided with the claimant and also rejected PewDiePie’s appeal. This means that all the revenue from the video now goes to the claimant. The video currently has close to 7.5 million views which means it has likely earned tens of thousands of dollars in ad revenue based on the current average YouTube ad rates.
“All the revenue now goes to this company for the entire video,” PewDiePie said. “Like what?” “Yeah, just thought it was bullsh*t.”
PewDiePie’s experience with YouTube’s broken copyright system is similar to that of many other YouTube creators.
In September, guitar teacher Gareth Evans had his entire channel threatened with deletion after it was hit with mass copyright strikes on videos where he played his interpretation of songs and wrote the tabs himself.
And Halo soundtrack composer Martin O’Donnell was even hit with a bogus YouTube copyright claim on his own music in March.