Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Home Entertainment How kids YouTube star Blippi hid his Harlem shake-poop video with copyright

How kids YouTube star Blippi hid his Harlem shake-poop video with copyright

On Wednesday evening, BuzzFeed News released a blockbuster investigative report on Stevin John, the creator of children, better known as "Blippi". In 2013, Blippi starred with 3.6 million followers in a viral Harlem Shake-Meme video in which he has pooped naked boyfriend's butt. In the run-up to Buzzfeed's story, Blippi has done everything to get it off the internet.

There is a saying: The Internet never forgets. And yet, the Internet forgets so much why groups like the Internet Archive, the archive team and individual archivists are so important. The collective memory of the Internet is fragile for many reasons. Internet companies are shutting down their websites, eroding or eliminating physical media, file formats are no longer supported, domain names expire, and web hosting subscriptions are aborted.

Certain Internet artifacts can be actively tidied up and protected by law. So a video that was actively promoted and became viral in 2013 ("PLEASE ENJOY AND SHARE THIS AMAZING VISUAL ART PIECE WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY," Blippi wrote about HarlemShakePoop.com at the time) may suddenly be hard to find in 2019.

BuzzFeed reporter Katie Notopoulos has not linked, embedded or otherwise shared the Harlem Shake Poop video in her play, and notes that "a lawyer for [Blippi] BuzzFeed News sent a cease and desist statement claiming copyright for the video. "

BuzzFeed is not the only company that has received legal copyright notices on the video. In early January, someone claiming to represent Blippi filed a copyright infringement claim on Google, previously linked to a Russian site hosting the so-called "Harlem Shake Poop" video.

"The copy-writing work by" Harlem Shake Poop "is about a NSFW video in which one man leaves someone else," it says in the cancellation request. "This video was not authorized for use with the links provided. This Russian site illegally stores the videos on their servers and indexes your search results. The information in this message is true. I swear on a perjury that I have the authority to act on behalf of the owner who has the exclusive right to the allegedly injured Harlem Shake Poop video. "

The whole situation seems frivolous and absurd, but it does tell a lot about how the Internet works and how people force copyright, censor it, hide hidden things or threaten others.

"It was not Buzzfeed's reporting that caused me to break the video, I've been doing it for years, almost always and everywhere, wherever I find it," Blippi said in an email after the article wrote it originally published. "On the other hand, submitting an annulment message is hardly an extremely lengthy one, or the fact that you can call Buzzfeed's article on a six-year-old comedy video" a blockbuster investigation report "with a clear face that journalistic standards are not what they used to be. "

Of course, after reading Notopoulos' article, I went looking for the video. I googled "Harlem Shake Poop" and found a bunch of YouTube videos where people responded to Blippi's original video (think of the 2 Girls 1 Cup reaction video), but not the original video. However, at the bottom of Google's search results, I saw a message: "In response to a complaint received under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), we removed 1 result from this page."

The DMCA is a comprehensive 1998 law that is critical to the growth and control of the Internet. The provisions of the law were used at different times to criminalize, for example, security research and independent repair. Section 512, also known as the Safe Harbor, protects Silicon Valley giants from being forgotten when their users upload copyrighted content to their sites. This law gives sites such as Google, YouTube, and Facebook immunity from trial unless they have "up-to-date knowledge" that violates "material … of the system or network."

This law has allowed platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to flourish, with millions or billions of users posting some of their photos, videos or songs they are not legal for. Without the Safe Harbor provision of the DMCA, it is not difficult to say that these companies and platforms could not exist. In fact, a big but unknowable part of YouTube's early growth was fueled by illegal song uploads as the site became one of the biggest repositories of music on the Internet.

The key to DMCA is that once companies have "up-to-date" knowledge of copyrighted material on their platforms, they must "act quickly to remove or block access to the material." And how to get it Do you know this? In many cases, the copyright owner simply notifies them.

From Google, YouTube, or Facebook, it's better to play it safe than to be sued. Therefore, mega platforms often use their own copyright detection algorithms. Otherwise, they usually question less content than question DMCA acceptance requests.

The owner of a copyrighted material may submit a so-called "DMCA deactivation request". The platform must then remove this material or remove access to this material. By and large, DMCA submissions can be used by copyright holders to censor messages, to hide things that they should not hide, and to otherwise remove things from the Internet that are not indeed violate copyright because of the myriad ways in which copyright is extremely confusing, even to experts.

For example, the National Rifle Association targeted a parody site (which is largely copyright protected) that sought to raise awareness of gun violence. Axl Rose used DMCA to stop an unflattering meme about herself. OkCupid used the DMCA to delete a scientific record of its users from an open science website. Ancestry.com somehow used DMCA to prevent a government transparency site from publishing public UFO sighting records. DMCA takedowns were used to try to censor the megapixel creature PewDiePie. And so on.

The DMCA deactivation request was received from Google

The DMCA has an indirect impact on how YouTube and other platforms work. YouTube has literally billions of videos, and many of them use copyrighted material in some way (a copyrighted song in the background, a mobile video of a copyrighted work, etc.). This means that Google and YouTube will receive millions of DMCA approval requests per day. Manually handling these acceptance requirements is both costly and time consuming and extremely inefficient. And so YouTube has developed a so-called "ContentID", a system that proactively and automatically identifies and reacts to copyrighted content. In some cases, this means that videos will be deleted; in other cases, video ad revenue will be assigned to the actual content owner. However, this system is not perfect, and so there are many authors who have been stolen by major rightholders for their use because they have used material that they could legally have. YouTube's internal copyright system, which is nominally designed to banish pirates and discard repeat offenders, has been used by YouTubers to trick, cheat or hold other creators hostage.

From Google, YouTube, or Facebook, it's better to play it safe than to be sued. Therefore, mega platforms often use their own copyright detection algorithms. Otherwise, they usually question less content than question DMCA acceptance requests.

All this leads us finally to Blippi. As the DMCA has been abused so often, civil society is constantly trying to reform it, or at least hold it to account for large platforms, by documenting how DMCA is being used. Harvard's Berkman Klein Center has set up the Lumen database to catalog and make publicly available millions of DMCA deletion requests and notifications. One of those publicly available DMCA takedown requests is the one I quoted above that the owner of harlemshakepoop.com submitted to Google in early January.

As far as DMCA deactivation requests are concerned, Blippi is a case that is as open as you know. The Russian website hosting his poop videos does not have copyright on the Poop Meme video and should not upload a copy of it. However, Russian websites do not really have to respond to DMCA notices. Because of this, Google's listing is the goal of the actual takedown request.

However, using the DMCA to hide an embarrassing video raises other questions. In Europe, there is a "right to be forgotten" that allows people to ask Google and other companies to remove items they do not want. As you may imagine, this law has been regularly abused. For example, last month, a Dutch surgeon was able to get Google to remove a link to their medical suspension. The United States does not have such a law, but if there are no laws to forgive, the DMCA can sometimes be used for the same purpose.

Should Blippi be able to hide his Kackvideo, which is crude, but not problematic or hated? Honestly, I do not know. But politicians and companies use the same tactics as he does to hide embarrassing and hateful content from their past that is definitely relevant and important to society. It's easy to understand why Blippi should make his video disappear forever. But if we let him clean up his mess, what else is missing?

Update: This article has been updated with a comment by Stevin John (Blippi), sent after this article was originally published. His complete statement follows:

"As I told BuzzFeed, although I thought that things like the Harlem Shake Poop video were funny in my early twenties, I'm really embarrassed these days that I've ever done such stupid and disgusting things, but that said, I guess 'You fool people when you write,' Prior to Buzzfeed's story, Blippi did everything to get it off the internet. 'Firstly, it was not Buzzfeed's reporting that led me to break the video, I'll do it On the other hand, the fact that you are using Buzzfeed's article on a six-year-old comedy video "a blockbuster investigation report" for years, almost always and everywhere, where I find it somewhere, secondly, a warning hardly qualifies as "extreme lengths." a clear face, suggest that journalistic standards are not what they used to be. "

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