Rumor Control: CBS Not Pulling Fan Films From YouTube

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Two days ago and just after its release, the latest episode of Star Trek Continues, “The White Iris” was pulled from YouTube with a message saying that it had been taken down due to a copyright claim by CBS. Rumors as to why this happened have spread like wildfire along with speculation about who was next and whether a big crack-down on fan productions was about to happen. We’re here to clear things up. CBS did not pull Star Trek Continues. Read on for details.

CBS is not ruining fan films
Quite the opposite, actually. While CBS may not be as open to fan productions as Lucasfilm has traditionally been with Star Wars, they have actually been quite generous, allowing fan productions that today can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to use the Star Trek name, logos, and characters.

Two days ago, episode 4 of Star Trek Continues was taken off of YouTube. The official word has come down that this was a mistake. Don’t panic! Vic Mignogna, creator and star of STC, posted to the official facebook page:

I am pleased to report that, contrary to speculation, STC episode IV was not deliberately pulled from YouTube by anyone at CBS. Several members of our production have regular contact with CBS Licensing, and I spoke personally with a V.P. of CBS Legal over the past couple days. She’s assured us that the takedown was not intentional, and YouTube has been instructed to reinstate the episode immediately. We have enormous respect and gratitude to CBS for their help in resolving this matter.

Live long and prosper!

What really happened, then?
Lots of rumors went flying over the past few days, including but not limited to the popular theories that the episode was taken down for use of a screen cap from the Original Series episode “The Paradise Syndrome”. Or that CBS pulled the episode due to the use of music from TOS. However, some Trek fans pointed out that both of these likely fall under fair use. Not to mention the fact that no other fan films, which use screen caps, moving images, and sounds from Trek and other series, have been affected.

What we do know is that CBS was not responsible for the takedown, meaning other fan films can rest a little easier knowing that they are not in any immediate danger of being shutdown. What we don’t know is what actually happened. We see three possibilities: an overzealous YouTube or CBS intern who incorrectly took down the episode; someone spoofed a CBS account and make the request to YouTube to take down the episode; or, most likely, YouTube’s automated Content ID algorithm wrongly flagged the episode for removal due to copyright claim. This would not be the first time the algorithm has screwed up. Lots of content creators who host material on YouTube complain about wrongful takedowns of their videos.

While you’re waiting for the episode to be reinstated on YouTube (which should happen any time now), you can just go ahead and watch on Vimeo, where it has been the entire time.



 

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Interesting…

“Miramanee?”

It’s truly amazing how open CBS has been about copyright these past few years. We’ve gone from “You may not solicit donations of any kind for any reason, even indirectly, and you may never show anything at a convention,” all the way to, “Yeah, sure, go ahead and Kickstart it. Just don’t keep any of the money for yourself, and thumbs up!”

As a fan audio drama producer myself, it’s unsettlingly awesome.

Best Star Trek Fan Series, This and Axanar. I hope CBS does see the Potential for a fully Canon – Fledged Series!

Certainly good to know CBS has not intentionally pulled it. But it does not explain why it was pulled. Even if it was a bot, it would be interesting why the bot flagged it to avoid that for the future.

I think using an actual screengrab is still asking for trouble – I can´t remember any other fanfilm crossing that line.

Thanks for hopping on the update, Kayla.

Captain Of The Take Fivd

Well hopefully someone at CBS realizes that the fan films are unabashed, passionate, committed boots-on-the-ground free marketing. No marketing exec could dream up this kind of eord-of-mouth.

The fan films are also satisfying a need and keeping the flame alive for merchandising in the absence of an ongoing series. This tells me that somewhere at CBS someone understands Star Trek. Bravo.

Captain Of The Take Five

Well my spell-check leaves a lot to be desired. Eord-of-mouth sounds like character in a Tolkien fanfic. Word-of-mouth is the kind of marketing CBS is looking for. And my boat is the Take Five.

Since when is “The Paradise Syndrome” —“Miramanee?”
Oh well–

Yes, the screen grabs are pushing it, too bad if these ruined it for all fan productions but so far so good, at this moment.

Just an odd comment: Both “Mind Sifter” and “The White Iris” more or less dissect Kirk. I like that but hope that now the poor guy can get back to full functioning. Seriously– he fell apart in nutrek too (“I’m sorry,” and then he kinda died) so, let’s get Kirk back to normal now, huh?

Remember that Trekcore’s massive YouTube channel was shut down last year for similar Content ID issues, and they finally were able to get back online too after a month or so. Youtube’s system (and ways of identifying ‘fair use’ content) is really crappy.

Here’s my theory: sabotage from someone who don’t like STC or its producers.

^^^ That was my thought as well.

@6 NorthStar,

It all crosses the line. The only reason these fan series exist is because CBS allows it. There is no “fair use” defense for any of this. When these productions started off, they were amateur efforts in garages. Now they raise money, hire professionals, launch marketing campaigns, and generate income via web clicks and advertising.

The fact CBS allows an actual copyrighted image from the original production, is really no different than allowing copyrighted sets, costumes, and especially music. I was appalled looking at James Horner’s credits on IMDB that these productions are credited to him in a professional database, just because his music was illegally used without compensation to enhance these fans productions. Do they pay performance royalties to ASCAP & BMI? Do they pay re-use fees to the AFM for the recordings they use? CBS certainly can’t waive any of that. And to that end, you are correct that using a clip of an actress is covered by the Actors union, among others. CBS can waive their fees, but I’ll bet no one consulted the actress, who is the only person who can waive those fees to use her likeness.

Gotta love Youtube. I had a video taken down due to ‘copyright claims’ on the audio used in my video which happened to be nothing more than the rain that was falling while I was filming.

@12 Agreed. I originally was of the mind that this was a Youtube copyright algorithim screw up like I myself experienced. However, if this were simply an algorithim screw up, or a question of using the Mirimanee lodge screen grab then thousands of Star Trek fan tribute and music videos which use footage from the TV shows and movies would be getting taken down as well.

On the other hand, it’s incredibly easy to report a copyright infringment via Youtube, and Youtube is usually quick on the trigger to pull the material in question after such a complaint is made.

Difference between TrekCore’s videos and these though is that TrekCore was using Paramount/CBS video to do the comparisons. They were 100% owned videos. Here, very little owned video is used as it is an original story. I liked those comparison videos and really they didn’t harm CBS at all but I get why they might have had an issue. As for fair use, unlike most franchises CBS understands that Trek is there because of the fans so they are a little more open to these things. Fair use is not easily defined since so many of these things still can go to court but CBS seems to feel that as long as they are not making a living off of this, then it is fair and they don’t mind. I don’t see any issue with that – you don’t pay a royalty when you learn songs on guitar for your own enjoyment.

CBS has always been good to the Fan Films! If anyone wishes to support New Voyages our Kickstarter is now up and Running with some Great perks!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2075083284/star-trek-new-voyages-phase-ii-2015?ref=video

Best to all our fellow fan film series!

@TrekRules

CBS claims they did not instigate any copyright infringement complaint. Also I would suggest that if Vic was able to contact the Vice President of CBS legal department, and if he has people who speak regularly with licensing like he says in his announcement, then it’s very likely the question of using this footage came up somewhere a long the line.

@ James Cawley

I’ll be dropping some bucks your way on Friday (payday). The Engineering set is coming along nicely… the more Trek the better I say.

” Not to mention the fact that no other fan films, which use screen caps, moving images, and sounds from Trek and other series, have been affected.”

Yeah, one would hope not. Most of the fan films use music and sounds from the show to give it it’s flavor and familiarity. Would be a shame if that’s not allowed. Lotta people would would suffer then.

I told folks to not panic… sheesh.

@Curious Cadet

IMDb is not strictly a professional database, in fact, no mention of “Professional” is in its Eligibility Rules..

From the IMDb help..

“For a work to be eligible for inclusion in the database it must be of general public interest and should be available to the public or have been available in the past. We accept most kinds of films/TV shows, including big screen and direct-to-DVD features; web series; documentaries; video games; experimental films and short films.”

@18 James, as a fellow ST and Elvis (who also liked ST), fan I have to ask, are you any relation to Elvis’ infamous “Hamburger” James Caughley, – just curious and good luck.

LLAP

@17. TrekRules – June 4, 2015

Yeah, reusing an actor’s image is an entirely different matter; in effect, you are hiring them for a performance and even the studio has to follow that guideline. Back in ’96 (?), the Original Seven had to be paid again to use their footage for the DS9 tribble episode.

@23 Garth, yeah and I remember a quote from from Walter Koenig, that stated that the check he received from that episode, was more than what he received from his entire run in TOS.

@18: James Cawley:

You came here just to hawk your Kickstarter campaign?

24: nix one of the “from”s ;^)

12. dswynne

Sabotaage, as the Shat would say.
Hmmm, I wonder who you might be referring to? Maybe they may even be on this thread! (Wink).

And how about Curt Danhauser’s nuTAS “And Let the Heavens Fall”?
http://www.danhausertrek.com/AnimatedSeries/HF_Full.html
http://fiction.ex-astris-scientia.org/star_trek_animated_reviews.htm
http://www.danhausertrek.com/AnimatedSeries/Press_Release_07_23_2008.html

Maybe it was blocked only-by-bot too? I wan’t see it again (and again). Mayb on Vimeo…

@12. There has been plenty of venom spewed their way, that would not surprise me. A shame, as far as fan productions go, STC isn’t bad….

#14. Curious Cadet – June 4, 2015 Copyright is a legal artiface and as such is not listed nor regarded as an inalienable right in the Declaration of Independence. It confers a limited monoply not an absolute one that seeks to encourage the exchange of ideas despite the increasing attempts in recent times to use it to silence them. Your notions of what fan productions use as “illegal” is based on what seem confused notions to me as to who owns the copyrights to the things used therein in the current state of the law. We can rest assured that the standard industry contracts used by Desilu and then Gulf Western after them back then claimed all copyrights from those people for themselves as a corporate entity endowed with all the rights of a “real boy”, with the sole exception of the episode THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER where they botched it and that episode serves as proof that copyrights were conferred and NOT endowed back then. Specifically in the case of the actress, Sabrina Sharf you can not retroactively bestow upon her rights and other union negotiated compensation which did not exist at the time of her work for hire and which GW’s standard contract claimed for itself to the maximum extent possible, anyway. It is a fact Leonard Nimoy sought to challenge this in a lawsuit, but he settled out of court which failed to set any legal precedent for your claim for other actors’ image… Read more »
#14. Curious Cadet – June 4, 2015 Copyright is a legal artiface and as such is not listed nor regarded as an inalienable right in the Declaration of Independence. It confers a limited monoply not an absolute one that seeks to encourage the exchange of ideas despite the increasing attempts in recent times to use it to silence them. Your notions of what fan productions use as “illegal” is based on what seem confused notions to me as to who owns the copyrights to the things used therein in the current state of the law. We can rest a$$ured that the standard industry contracts used by Desilu and then Gulf Western after them back then claimed all copyrights from those people for themselves as a corporate entity endowed with all the rights of a “real boy”, with the sole exception of the episode THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER where they botched it and that episode serves as proof that copyrights were conferred and NOT endowed back then. Specifically in the case of the actress, Sabrina Sharf you can not retroactively bestow upon her rights and other union negotiated compensation which did not exist at the time of her work for hire and which GW’s standard contract claimed for itself to the maximum extent possible, anyway. It is a fact Leonard Nimoy sought to challenge this in a lawsuit, but he settled out of court which failed to set any legal precedent for your claim for other actors’ image… Read more »

29: Don’t get “All Shook Up’ now. ;^)

LLAP

# 25. Son of Captain Garth – June 4, 2015 ” Yeah, reusing an actor’s image is an entirely different matter; in effect, you are hiring them for a performance and even the studio has to follow that guideline. Back in ’96 (?), the Original Seven had to be paid again to use their footage for the DS9 tribble episode.” — Son of Captain Garth That had to do with things negotiated in their contracts, NOT because any actor hired in the 1960s inherently had any such rights. And, again, the dispute was settled out of court: http://articles.latimes.com/1995-09-14/entertainment/ca-45870_1_star-trek “Four original cast members from the 1960s TV series “Star Trek” have received a collective $1 million from Paramount to resolve a long-simmering dispute over merchandising royalties and other matters, while ensuring their future appearances on behalf of the entertainment franchise. Although merchandise from the “Star Trek” string of four TV series and seven feature films has generated nearly $2 billion worth of retail sales, four of the actors in the series that started it all reportedly had received less then $85,000 between them before last month. James Doohan (who played Scottie), Walter Koenig (Chekov), Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and George Takei (Sulu) maintained that they were contractually entitled to 2.5% of the money Paramount made marketing their images from the TV series and feature films in which they appeared.” — ”4 Original ‘Trek’ Actors Settle Dispute for $1 Million : Television: The quartet who played Scottie, Chekov, Uhura and Sulu reach agreement… Read more »

Michael Chang Gummelt,

Case in point, dude. Even if this was in error, this shows how easily stuff can get taken down if a big corporation requests it.

Just as I was saying yesterday….

#37. Prodigal Son – June 4, 2015

“Case in point, dude. Even if this was in error, this shows how easily stuff can get taken down if a big corporation requests it.” — Prodigal Son

Pointless speculation on your part as the BIG corporation says it didn’t instigate this which means there’s absolutely no evidence that whatever caused this could be employed in service of that. A glitch is a glitch, not something that can be relied upon nor should it. Also, the revocation of awarded domain names has absolutely nothing to do with YouTube’s video pulling process or it’s heuristic.

@ Disvinted.

It certainly illustrative at how risk adverse Youtube and most ISP’s are to any sort of perceived, falsified or heuristically generated issue involving copyright or similar claims…most sites/ISP’s will “pull your stuff down and ask questions later”…fact !

This more than reinforces my general point.

Perhaps they can now put the first episode of star trek the new animated series back online as well

@36. Disinvited – June 4, 2015

“# 25. Son of Captain Garth – June 4, 2015

” Yeah, reusing an actor’s image is an entirely different matter; in effect, you are hiring them for a performance and even the studio has to follow that guideline. Back in ’96 (?), the Original Seven had to be paid again to use their footage for the DS9 tribble episode.” — Son of Captain Garth

That had to do with things negotiated in their contracts, NOT because any actor hired in the 1960s inherently had any such rights. And, again, the dispute was settled out of court:”

I stand corrected. Thank you.

#39. Prodigal Son – June 4, 2015

YouTube is NOT an ISP…fact!

You keep trying to equate things that are not equivalent.

@ Disinvited

I clearly said: “most sites/ISP’s”

The “/” combines the two, but obviously they are not the same thing. Duh. Nice try for a strawman.

#39. Prodigal Son – June 4, 2015

” This more than reinforces my general point..” — Prodigal Son

Arbitration is the fastest method of Domain Name dispute resolution available:

http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/udrp/process.html

And it takes about 45 days. That is a fact!

This does NOT more than reinforce whatever point it was you thought you had.

Also, Michael has been actively developing CBS industry contacts and has been directing his pitch directly at the current copyright holder. This puts CBS in a very awkward position to only go after him and not at the same time shutdown websites used to promote forming other STAR TREK series’ pitches such as those dedicated to the Captain Worf idea. Not to mention all those “novelists” online who claim to be writing the next great Trek novel to submit unsolicited to CBS’ publishing arm.

Also, featuring clips of actors integrated into a significant portion of a for-profit commercial enterprise is a far cry from showing an occasional clip, screenshot or such in a non-profit, unlicensed fan production.

If ST:C would do something similar to DS9’s Trials and Tribulations it likely would not fall under fair-use and require a license from CBS.

@34. Disinvited, I think the misunderstanding here is that I am referencing SAG clip fees. Staring in 1960 any footage of an actor from one TV show could not be re-used in another production without additional compensation to the actor, which further required the fee be negotiated with the actor (i.e. not a set rate). That is the likeness I am referring to. Merchandising is a completely different matter and doesn’t apply to clip from the series used in this fan fiction anyway. Unless they negotiated such a fee with the original actor, or her estate, then that is theft. As for the music, there are two issues, which have nothing to do with my IMDB observation (that just irritates me). One is the synchronization of music to picture. This is a right controlled by the publishers. There is no “parody” allowed for this kind of use, and the publishers have successfully fought these kinds of uses. However, since Paramount is the owner of this music, they may well have tacetly granted the synchronization rights for fan fiction use (and depending on their contract with Horner may or may not be compelled to require a fee to be split with the composer). The second is more important. That’s the performance rights paid to the composer for the public performance of the music in the film. Horner is entitled to a performance royalty every time the music is performed in the film. Since internet streaming is considered broadcast, on demand streaming… Read more »

#43. Prodigal Son – June 4, 2015

You’ve been equating disimilar things since you made your first two slashless posts where you claim YouTube’s random video pull down proves something about Domain Name dispute resolution which it doesn’t.

According to Paragraph 4(a) of the UDRP Policy, the UDRP Administrative Procedure is only available for disputes concerning an alleged abusive registration of a domain name; that is, which meet the following criteria:

(i) the domain name registered by the domain name registrant is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the complainant (the person or entity bringing the complaint) has rights; and

(ii) the domain name registrant has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name in question; and

(iii) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith

@ Disinvited

I never equated those terms at all. You are falsely assuming that, and trying to counter my overall illustrative point through strawman minutiae.

Keep trying to work the Kobayashi Maru on me — I give you credit for trying to redefine what I am saying so as to prevail here…lol

The lighting and effects and actors are so similar to the originals, that it simply confused the algorithm. It probably thought it was a re-copied TOS episode. (J/k, or then again…)

@ Disinvited

My response is stuck in moderation….