Twenty-two year old Corey Vidal is a Canadian YouTube Partner and popular video content provider. Shooting videos in his basement, he was propelled to YouTube fame by the unlikely success of a 30 minute step-by-step demonstration of how to dance the choreography from Ciara’s music video, 1, 2 Step. Since then he’s gone on to produce scores of videos viewed over 12 million times. [Later: He tells CNet his traffic is 3.4 million to 4 million views per month.]
His most recent hit (below) featured Corey lip syncing all the parts of a 4-part tribute to Star Wars by Moosebutter, a comedy a capella group out of Salt Lake City. The video was made with their permission; they even filmed and posted their own response video.
It appears now that Warner Music has taken it down.
If so, this wouldn’t be Corey’s first run in with Warner Music. Here he tells the story in his own words of winning an earlier battle with Warner after they had his ‘4 Minutes’ Hip Hop Dance video pulled.
His was the first YouTube video to use the eagerly awaited Madonna hit; and it was posted before the song was released. When he saw Madonna’s not mad at you video response to fans posting their own videos, Corey filed a counter notice. When Warner didn’t respond the video was put back up. Now before it plays Corey has added this warning:
ATTENTION WARNER MUSIC GROUP
Don’t you DARE try to remove this video from YouTube or disable the audio. If you recall we had a legal battle over this last year and I WON because your own artist MADONNA herself gave us YouTubers support…
If this video is touched by your greedy little fingers in any way, shape or form, so help me God I will take you to court and sue you for damages for impeding my livelihood and reflagging a video that we’ve already disputed. I still have all my paperwork from last year and I’ve talked to a lawyer.
Michael Masnick, who tells the story in a link-filled critique of Warner Music Group’s more ignoble recent antics, concludes:
I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone familiar with copyright law (other than, of course, entertainment industry IP lawyers) who doesn’t think the song is pretty clear fair use. It’s transformative, not derivative. It’s a parody. It doesn’t harm the commercial value of the original works. Moosebutter is also confused as to why it was just Corey’s video taken down, when many others use the song as well. It’s as if Warner Music purposely targeted the most popular viral video with this song in it. In fact, I’d argue the only harm done to the commercial value of Warner Music was done by Warner Music itself in having this video taken down. In the meantime, I’ve sent a note to the folks at Warner Music to get a comment… and will add it here should they ever reply.
In an update Masnick says, “We got an official ‘no comment.’ Glad they’re really a part of the ‘conversation.’ And the video is still on bunches of other sites.” Including this one:
LATER: CNet posted a piece on Vidal today that fills in some of the blanks:
By now, everybody knows that YouTube removes videos that violate copyright law. What’s different about Vidal’s work getting pulled is that when he posted it in October, he was permitted to use Warner’s music. Until last month, YouTube had an agreement with Warner Music–one of the four largest recording companies–that allowed video creators to include the label’s content in their clips. Last month, talks to renew the deal broke down and that means YouTube and its users no longer have access to Warner’s library. For this reason, the case is much different than YouTube’s high-profile fight with Viacom or run-of-the-mill piracy that once flourished on the site.