Viral Videos and Copyright Infringement on YouTube

In today’s society, sharing video content on social platforms has become a common practice and almost everyone has the ability to upload, watch or share a video on multiple devices within a few seconds. This instant accessibility and convenience has opened the door for “theft” (copyright infringement) and most content viewers may not even know that the video content may be considered “stolen”.

We can all agree that one of the most dominant video sharing platforms is YouTube but did you know their global ad revenue is over $4.2 billion as 6 billion videos are watched per month and 300 hours of new videos are uploaded per minute? Obviously, this platform has a process in place in order to notify them about copyright infringements but the responsibility to report the offence is up to the content creator. Therefore, we have decided to randomly select three videos from a list posted by TIME called YouTube’s 50 Best Videos.

1. Bank of America sings U2’s One

The most popular video was nine years ago with 744,991 views. The next video had only 20,314 views and was presented more as a funny commentary. In total you can find three videos in which two have the exact video and one has the song. The original presentation of the altered U2 song was captured during a corporate conference when a merger between MBNA and Bank of America was announced. The BA employee that preformed the song did not reach out to the record company or consult with a lawyer before hand.  Consequently, Universal Music Publishing Group sent a legal complaint letter to BA. The bank employee was under the impression that the song was a parody that had been presented in a private location. In my opinion, this was a copyright infringement (not just pieces of copyright used).

2. Extreme Mentos & Diet Coke

The original video was created and uploaded by and the company states that it explores creativity, and in particular, the ways in which ordinary objects can do extraordinary things” .This original video had 301,642 views while we found two other exact copies of the video called Diet Coke +Mentos (17,880,999) posted only a few months after the original and followed by runnermore  channel with 1,116,725. Furthermore, these two exact copies are producing profit by using ad companies. The original owner has not filed a complaint about the two exact copies of the video. If the secondary channels do not have the permission of the EepyBird channel to upload this video performance, it is considered to be a copyright infringement. As per the list of parodies and copycats combining coke with mentos, the list is over 300,000. We should note here that did not discover the “Diet Coke and Mentos eruption” but did present a choreographed artistic show (not an idea).

3. The Sneezing Baby Panda 

Over 140 videos have been uploaded with the same content from first posting in 2006 and eight have had over half of million views. The first video had 220,565,308 views on Sunday afternoon and by Monday morning it had 70 more views. The owner of the channel jimvwmoss has a declaimer note “Media host NOT endorsed by jimvwmoss” and has over 20,277 subscribers on the channel. The original footage was not online and was produced by LJM Productions Pty Ltd. and Wild Candy film, television, live theatre and digital content producers. It seems that the company allows others to repost the original video as long as they promote the original Panda T-shirts made by LMJ. Also, it was interesting to find out that the original Australian filmmakers onLinkedIn Lesley Hammond (Director of the company) and Jenny Walsh had captured this moment in 1999 in China.

The after effect from this viral video on YouTube is shocking; over 80 with exact videos and about 270 videos related to the subject as slow motion remixcreative additions, parodiesspoof, animation and a movie.

The Future of Canadian Copyright

Over the past century, the Canadian Copyright Act has been amended a few times. The most recent update to the Act, named Bill C-11 in 2012, was able to meet some of the vast technological advances that have taken place over the last two decades. One of the key elements was the expansion of fair dealing across education, satire and parody. This enables the users to generate non-commercial content while introducing pieces of copyright works into their content.

It could take seven weeks to write a script, more than six months to write a book or many years to complete a drawing but it only takes a few seconds to upload the content online. Do you think the Canadian Copyright Act updates will promote creativity across digital platforms or does more need to be done?


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