Universal Music Has No Sense Of Humor, Takes Down Hilarious Twitter Profile Pun Parody Of Nirvana Song

from the get-over-yourself-UMG dept

Earlier today Techdirt writer Tim Geigner pointed me to a YouTube video that used Twitter user names to create a punnish version of the 80s hit "Tainted Love" retitled Tweeted Love. It's pretty amusing:
In checking out the YouTube account of the guy who created it, Jim Mortleman, a more recent video posted just a few days ago popped up, entitled Nerdpunna - Smells Like Tweet Spirit. This was the same style video, using Twitter usernames to create an absolutely hilarious version of the famous Nirvana song. It was so well done (perhaps because Kurt Cobain's lyrics are so unintelligible) that I couldn't believe it had only around 2,000 views. So I tweeted it, joking that people should check it out before it got taken down.
A bunch of people started retweeting and linking to it, with many of them commenting on how great the video was or how funny it was. Even people who aren't Nirvana fans were talking about it. A few examples:
And there were many more like that. In short: the damn thing is really funny and super well done. After realizing that his video was suddenly getting an influx of traffic, the creator of it, Jim Mortleman (who says that the videos are actually a group project in finding the profiles, which he then puts together in the video) tweeted me that he was pretty sure he was safe because he'd been alerted that UMG was "monetizing" his video -- which is one of the options in YouTube for copyright holders if they want to make money on someone using their work, rather than taking it down.
From his YouTube screen, it actually showed that Universal Music had blocked the video in one country while monetizing it elsewhere:
However, just a few hours later, as the video started getting more and more attention, views and tweets... apparently Universal changed its mind -- and if you now visit the page, this is what you see:
Mortleman says that within YouTube it's now officially blocked in all countries. This is a ContentID match, rather than a direct takedown, though the company clearly made the decision to switch it from monetizing it to taking it down -- so someone made a decision.

And it's a hellishly stupid decision. The video was fantastic and didn't take anything away from the song. It certainly wasn't a replacement for the song and, if anything, was likely to draw a lot more interest to the song and remind people of its existence. I'm not a huge fan of the song, but have been humming it to myself all afternoon because of that video (which I ended up watching a few times).

Also, this seems like a pretty clear case of fair use -- though I imagine some will disagree. The hilarious use of twitter user names to create alternative lyrics to the song is quite transformative. No one was watching this video as a replacement for the original song, but because the video itself sort of celebrated the song with alternative lyrics made up entirely of Twitter profile names where "Here we are now, entertain us" because "Huey Long Gnarl Emma Talus" (if you haven't seen the actual video... it's much funnier in the way it was presented). And now it's all gone and you can't see it.

All because of copyright law and UMG's total lack of a sense of humor.

Even if you think the fair use case is bunk and that the video is infringing and UMG is totally, 100% in the right to do what it did, I'm curious how this helps UMG in any way, shape or form. It doesn't help them get any more money, and it just makes people pissed off. How is that a smart business decision?

Update: Jim has now posted a silent version of the video so you can see what it looks like, though it's really not the same effect (though you can try to line up the audio with it to try to replicate the effect):
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Filed Under: contentid, copyright, jim mortleman, kurt cobain, music, nirvana, parody, puns, takedown, twitter profiles
Companies: google, twitter, umg, universal music, universal music group, youtube


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 3:34pm

    "I accept your terms, enjoy your nothing."

    So they were getting money from monetizing the video, and now they get nothing. Absolutely brilliant, I can see they're really focused on making sure that the artists make as much money, and get as much exposure, as they can.

    As always, watching their actions is like watching someone aim a gun at their foot, pull the trigger, and then start screaming about how painful it is and won't someone punish that guy standing over over there who had the gall to tell them that they were making a mistake, and who is clearly at fault?!

    Add another entry to the list of reasons to avoid the parasites at all costs. The sooner they die off the better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    samshovel (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 3:45pm

    I imagine Kurt's murdered body or ashes spinning over this bit of stupidity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jim Mortleman (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 4:05pm

    Even Nirvana's bassist liked it!

    Thanks for the write-up, Mike. Yes, it seems so stupid. Even Nirvana bassist Krist retweeted the video, so he obviously doesn't have a problem with it. I'll get on to UMG next week and see if we can't sort this out with a bit of common sense. In the meantime, I'm posting a SILENT version of the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTYJvOCDzjc) that people can sync with a legitimate version of the audio, also freely available on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTWKbfoikeg) and readily playable in another browser tab or synced using a site like youtubedoubler.com. Just an unnecessary PITA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 4:21pm

      Re: Even Nirvana's bassist liked it!

      Added the silent version to the post...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      mickmel (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 4:26pm

      Re: Even Nirvana's bassist liked it!

      Jim -- We'll make this more insane, but I have a request. I'm trying to use YouTubeDoubler to make this work, but yours needs to start at about 30.5 seconds in; the site only allows full seconds. Could you trim a smidge from it (or add an extra ~0.5 seconds of black at the beginning) so they match up? Here's the best I can do with the ones currently up: http://youtubedoubler.com/gjLD

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Jim Mortleman (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 5:25pm

        Re: Re: Even Nirvana's bassist liked it!

        Just spotted this - thanks. Won't have time to trim, render and upload another copy tonight (it's 1.30am here in the UK) but will try to get a better-synced version up soon if I can't get the takedown lifted. In the meantime, it's possible on youtubedoubler to get a better sync by quickly pausing and unpausing the video that's playing ahead until the two come into perfect sync.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 29 Aug 2015 @ 12:23pm

        Re: Re: Even Nirvana's bassist liked it!

        Thanks for that. I think it works fine the way you have it set up.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 29 Aug 2015 @ 1:42am

      Re: Even Nirvana's bassist liked it!

      Nirvana's bassist Krist or other band members have absolutely no say in this. They sold their rights to the song to the record company. They have at best advisory function regarding its marketing. If they behave too uppity, the record company may dump them and rescind their rights to perform any of their previous songs for the exclusive contract durations.

      They would not be the first artists who have been shut down by their producers in that manner. It can be a real downer for your career if you may not perform the songs you have become known for.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2015 @ 4:08pm

    Just posted:
    Smells Like Tweet Spirit (SILENT, non-infringing-version)
    https://youtu.be/bTYJvOCDzjc

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jef Oliver, 28 Aug 2015 @ 4:11pm

    Someone posts a video on the internet. Several comments say "Enjoy it before it is taken down."

    When your business is known for its over-aggressive copyright stance and not for the media it is supposed to be releasing, there is a problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jim Mortleman (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 5:00pm

    Sync link

    Thanks to @pgregg, who provided a shortcut to a youtubedoubler syncing my silent version with the legitimate version. Kind of demonstrates the idiocy of the block, no? http://www.youtubedoubler.com/?video1=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DhTWKbfoikeg&st art1=0&video2=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DbTYJvOCDzjc&start2=31&authorNa me=PG

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2015 @ 5:02pm

    Do you remember when Universal Music Group censored the Megaupload song.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rinald of the Jungle, 28 Aug 2015 @ 5:15pm

    Hilarious?

    I guess that depends on your sense of humour. I couldn't watch but about 30-40 seconds. A bunch of screen grabs flashing by left me underwelhmed, to say the least. But gush on internet, gush on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jim Mortleman (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 5:30pm

      Re: Hilarious?

      Each to their own. You really need to get to the punned names rather than the instrumental intro to "get it". We're going for a "misheard lyrics" vibe, rather like the old Maxell tape ads, like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAsmf1LGcpA

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2015 @ 12:27pm

        Re: Re: Hilarious?

        They say that if you have to explain a joke it really isn't funny

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 29 Aug 2015 @ 12:43pm

          Re: Re: Re: Hilarious?

          They say that if you have to explain a joke it really isn't funny

          It's also possible that it's very funny and some people just don't get it at first.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2015 @ 1:27pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Hilarious?

            The thing about sayings like that is that they exist because they are true.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Pink Shark, 30 Aug 2015 @ 5:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hilarious?

              But not always. I'll be the first to admit that I watched the video and didn't get it at first. It wasn't until half way through that I finally "got it", at which point I cracked up and started over from the beginning. Reminds me of those bad lip reading videos:

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOQnk-hRVuc

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR4lLJu_-wE

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 30 Aug 2015 @ 12:04pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hilarious?

              The thing about sayings like that is that they exist because they are true.

              No, sorry, sayings don't exist because they are true, they exist for any of a number of reasons, only one of which is being true. Some exist because they feel like they are true (but aren't). Some because they are witty or memorable. And so on.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2015 @ 12:56pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hilarious? Nah,

                Whatever. But nothing sucks the funny out of something quite like the guy who made it having to explain why it's funny.

                That Redneck Avengers video is some funny shit, though.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Rinald of the Jungle, 29 Aug 2015 @ 3:12pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Hilarious?

            Oh, I got it okay (merp merp), just didn't do anything for me. However, I do appreciate the effort and detail that went into creating it.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2015 @ 5:30pm

    What have you lost? Quantify it. Fair Question after you've long jeered at music industry unable to quantify losses.

    Actually, you gained a piece to fill in here.

    >>> "It certainly wasn't a replacement for the song and, if anything, was likely to draw a lot more interest to the song and remind people of its existence." -- Yes. And I hate it. A particularly polarizing song, I'd say. It's not all solely positive for the tune as YOU assert. THIS makes me like UMG and copyright, though, to spare us from endless stupid version of the worst crap.

    >>> It doesn't help them get any more money, and it just makes people pissed off." -- No, again, just YOUR assertion. Older people LIKE the songs of their youth in ways younger probably never will. To your generation, everything is a parody and little fervently believed; you have no abiding associations for tunes or anything, constantly seek the new even though haven't "grokked", for want of better word, the old. Your loss. But anyway, parody of favorite by some young punk likely annoys older listeners, so is a loss for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2015 @ 5:55pm

      Re:

      out_of_the_blue just hates it when due process is enforced.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2015 @ 8:50pm

      Re: What have you lost? Quantify it. Fair Question after you've long jeered at music industry unable to quantify losses.

      Go yell at a cloud.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2015 @ 10:42pm

      Re: What have you lost? Quantify it. Fair Question after you've long jeered at music industry unable to quantify losses.

      The video has been taken by someone who does not own it, and the original owner is also denied access to it for his own legal purposes. I think this is a pretty cut-and-dried case of theft.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ottermaton (profile), 29 Aug 2015 @ 4:54am

      Re: FFS

      Why do you all keep putting wind in the sails of the troll by replying to him?

      Everyone who replies to the troll DESERVES a Report click

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2015 @ 8:27am

      Re: What have you lost? Quantify it. Fair Question after you've long jeered at music industry unable to quantify losses.

      Here is the village idiot singing the song of his people.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 31 Aug 2015 @ 7:01am

      Re: What have you lost? Quantify it. Fair Question after you've long jeered at music industry unable to quantify losses.

      Wow. You are indeed a little tyrant dipshit. Where to start?

      What have you lost? Quantify it.

      Really? Does everything need a monetary value in your petty, distorted mind? The AUTHOR didn't bother putting a monetary value to it, he just released so people would enjoy it. How valuable is it when you want to reach everybody instead of limiting it by charging?

      Yes. And I hate it. A particularly polarizing song, I'd say. It's not all solely positive for the tune as YOU assert. THIS makes me like UMG and copyright, though, to spare us from endless stupid version of the worst crap.

      YOU think it's crap. And you may have any opinion you wish. But you CANNOT force your opinion on others. I hate rap. With passion. But I think it's awesome that there are plenty of people that like it and that it is able to thrive. Because I know there are plenty of people that hate metal but I love it. Thankfully we as a society agreed that freedom of speech is awesome and so we must allow even what we don't like. You see, you showed your despicable little tyrant here. If it's not the way you like then it should be taken down. You piece of trash.

      But anyway, parody of favorite by some young punk likely annoys older listeners, so is a loss for them.

      So what? What if the old songs are offensive to the youngsters? Should we take them down because of it? And what is the loss again? Nobody is forcing you to watch the video and listen to the parody. Not to mention there is plenty of jokes about the younger people running amongst the older generation. And why should anybody care? I'll ask again: SO WHAT?

      I do hope you are doing it on purpose for the sake of trolling. If that's how you truly think then you are indeed a despicable piece of trash. Lucky you free speech also allow such type of idiocy, no?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jameshogg (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 5:33pm

    "Universal Music Has No Sense Of Humor"

    What do you mean they have no sense of humour? They call themselves "Universal" Music and I still laugh every time I see the name.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jim Mortleman (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 6:03pm

    Again, each to their own. A group of us works very hard on amusingly punning these songs using social network profiles and we've covered genres from the 60s to the 90s (so far) including blues, prog rock, rock, punk, electro and grunge. We make our choice of songs based on the potential for misheard lyrics, not the quality of the songs per se, and have deliberately varied the genres we parody. And they clearly have a broad appeal - our work has been lauded by the national press in the UK, France, Eire, a number of big blogs as well as being aired on one of BBC TV's flagship new programmes here in the UK, Newsnight. As for young punks, I'm 46 and some of my fellow punsters are even older! :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2015 @ 10:26am

    except for one minor detail

    parodies are protected under fair use clause... just ask Weird Al

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 31 Aug 2015 @ 7:03am

      Re: except for one minor detail

      parodies are protected under fair use clause ...

      And what's that got to do with anything?

      Apparently nothing, until we can find a way to fix this ridiculous overreach. I wonder if UMG even knows what "universal" means; just a little ironic there. This is the opposite of that. It's Non-existent, no longer being monetized, slapped away because ContentID allows them to bully anyone they feel like. They're being allowed to ignore the law, and Google's YouTube is enabling that with their broken, unfairly rigged ContentID system.

      Fail, all around.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jim Mortleman (profile), 31 Aug 2015 @ 7:28am

    Subterranean Facebook Blues

    Now we've discovered youtubedoubler.com, we can finally show folks our punny version of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (re-titled "Subterranean Facebook Clues") on YouTube. (It was up on Vimeo for a while and managed to get about 50K hits, but we had to take it down on legal advice.) Slient version synced to legitimate audio can now be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/sub-fb-blues. Every cloud, as they say...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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