by Anna Baltzer
January 8, 2011
In a shocking move of selective and possibly unlawful censorship, Motorola’s partner Warner Music Group (WMG) compelled YouTube to remove the St Louis Boycott Motorola Flash Mob video seven days after it was posted last month. (The original video was reposted here.)
The video featured more than forty members and friends of the St Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (STL-PSC) serenading holiday shoppers in Brentwood, MO with a parody of Lady Gaga and Beyoncé’s “Telephone.” The singers and dancers urged patrons to join the boycott of Motorola products because of the company’s involvement in Israel’s illegal occupation and war crimes. The video went viral, garnering coverage around the world. It acquired more than 35,000 hits in less than a week.
Shortly after the count hit 35,000, YouTube shut down the video, citing a copyright infringement claim by WMG. However, parodies of songs are protected under a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose, and STL-PSC’s video clearly constituted “fair use.” There are more than 1,000 Lady Gaga flash mob videos on YouTube and hundreds more parodying Beyoncé songs. Many of them are using the same song, and none of them have been shut down by WMG. What doesn’t WMG want the world to know about Motorola, and why not?