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Warner Bros. Censors Review Critical of Dark Knight Rises Just Before Release
July 19, 2012
Alex Jones’ review of the film The Dark Knight Rises, hitting theaters Friday, has been blocked inside the United States on copyright claims filed by Warner Bros., despite its having only used short, promotional clips that clearly fall within Fair Use guidelines and 1st Amendment free speech rights.
The video had been released for over a month and had amassed nearly 300,000 views before it was blocked, whereas normally videos flagged for copyright matches are flagged by You Tube’s automated bot system within minutes or hours. Instead, the facts indicate that the video has been blocked manually for political purposes just prior to the film’s release July 20th. On previous occasions, “content ID” blocks or flags, as they’re known in the You Tube system, happen almost immediately, but this did not fit that pattern.
The block comes days after the popular movie review site Rotten Tomatoes turned off comments on its Dark Knight Rises page after a flood of negative reviews from critics prompted a backlash of negative comments. The Infowars review was only mildly critical, focusing on the political messages contained in the film’s franchise and other similar hero flicks. It it outrageous that Hollywood would sink to the levels of censoring critical reviews, but yet it is taking place. Clearly, Warner Bros. is hoping to stifle any buzz it feels could undermine its blockbuster box office returns (though this seems unlikely for such a popular film franchise regardless of even the harshest criticism).
Alex has challenged the block inside You Tube’s system, citing the right to review, analyze, critique and cover elements of copyrighted work for its significance in our shared culture. Courts have upheld the Free Speech rights to use promotional materials such as movie posters and trailers in the past, as they are intended to be released and seen by the widest audience possible. U.S. Code deals with these free speech protections under Title XVII, Sections 106-117. Section 107 deals directly with “Fair Use”:
§ 107 . Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.
Below is mirror of Alex’s review. Please share, link and watch before it, too, is blocked or removed from You Tube.
Note: After we submitted a claim disputing the Warner Bros. initiated block, You Tube displayed the following message, indicating that the video would again be functional until the claim is resolved: “After your dispute has been submitted, your video will soon be available on You Tube without ads for third parties. This is a temporary status and might change at any time.”
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