Wait, Where'd Stars Wars A Capella Guy Go?


Why is Corey Vidal's YouTube account suspended? The guy who did the lip synch video for Moosebutter's "Star Wars A Capella" which was seen by over 3 million people, and which was nominated for a People's Choice Award [it lost to Barack Roll] has had his entire YouTube account suspended. The notices say there was a terms of service violation. The Star Wars A Capella video itself was removed "due to a copyright claim by WARNER MUSIC GROUP."

On Moosebutter's blog yesterday, they posted this message:

Star Wars video, how we miss you...

moosebutter has finally gotten attention from a major music company!

Unfortunately, it came in the form of pre-emptive legal action.

Corey Vidal and our Star Wars videos were taken down by Warner Music Company, or Warner Brothers, or Warner INC ... all we know is, Warner has gotten picky about 'their' content on youtube, and even though there are a dozen other videos on youtube with our Star Wars song, and hundreds of videos that illegally rip footage from Harry Potter DVDs, and fake Batman trailers and etc etc etc Warner has been kind enough to target our stuff.

This means one thing: we've finally hit the big time! Maybe.

So, we apologize about the videos being gone, but the youtube powers are looking into it, so we hear.

We also believe that the music will still be sold from our web site, since we think we've done everything legally... but we thought the youtube videos were legal, too. So, buy the mp3 now before it gets taken down! Hooray!

Vidal's video brought a massive new audience to Moosebutter's song--and recording--after YouTube featured it on their front page, but the song itself is almost ten years old, and Moosebutter have been recording and performing it since at least 2000.

And it's more than a bit confusing what their actual claim is. One of the six John Williams soundtrack melodies in the composition, Superman, is from a Warner Brothers movie, though Warner Music is making the claim, so maybe they distributed this or some of the other soundtracks. But "Star Wars A Capella" seems like a classic example of transformative, not derivative use, exactly the kind of thing that should be allowed under fair use as a parody.

If the sampling industry's current practice is applied, however, Moosebutter's use of the core melodies of each song--the whole point/genius of their Williams tribute composition is that the sources are all instantly recognizable to moviegoers--the song is an infringement from beginning to end. Only they didn't use recordings, but compositions [and dialogue, which almost all comes from Star Wars episodes.]

Whatever the claim, this court finds Warner to have made a dickheaded move.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: January 19, 2009.

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