How Jay Leno Stole A Guy’s YouTube Video

A copyright claim gone insane devours a humorous political ad... from 2007?

In 2007 Travis Irvine - comedian and Libertarian* - ran for mayor of Bexley, Ohio. He enlisted his friend, fellow comedy person Brian Kamerer, to make a campaign ad for him. The black and white clip was very funny, became something of a viral sensation. Then out of nowhere the video resurfaced in 2009, when it  was featured on The Jay Leno Show. Pretty cool for Kamerer and Irvine. You would think.

Recently Kamerer was going through his old videos to put together a portfolio when he discovered this:

His video had been removed from YouTube because NBC had claimed copyright on it. Copyright on a video that had existed for two years before Jay Leno featured it on his shitty failed show.

I doubt that Jay Leno himself goes through YouTube pages searching for copyright infringement. In fact I doubt a human being does this at all; it's likely that there's a robot who checks YouTube videos against some kind of archive of terrible NBC programming (poor robot). But this situation shows how immensely broken this system is; Kamerer only happened to be looking for his own video and would have otherwise never have known it was blocked by this bogus, overreaching claim. It's likely that his video has been blocked for months if not years, which could be the kind of thing that would have kept him from getting work in the meantime. 

EDITED TO ADD: It's been pointed out to me that I should have included this factoid: nobody from the Jay Leno Show reached out to Irvine or Kamerer when they showed the clip on TV. The Jay Leno Show doesn't need to respect anyone else's copyright, and can in fact claim it for themselves.

So this is where we stand online - huge corporations can come along and slap copyright claims on material you fully created and that's it. I'm very anti-piracy, but I'm also against draconian anti-piracy measures. This is a stupid situation that grows from grotesque corporate control of our media. You want to talk about abusing copyright? Here it is.

Kamerer has loaded the video up to Funny or Die. He's also written about the incident at Split Sider, taking special aim at Jay.


* that sounds redundant.