EFF chairman makes a Downfall remix

Hugh from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez, "EFF Board Chair Brad Templeton has made a brilliant Downfall remix. The video is interesting not just for being funny, but also for the troubles Brad had creating it. In order to avoid any DMCA violations, he had to make it without circumventing encryption, which naturally led to multiple headaches. We have a short post on the EFF blog about what this says about the need for DMCA exemptions for remix artists"

Unfortunately for Brad, he found in making his parody that creating a fair use like this -- and doing so legally -- is not as easy as it ought to be. As a high profile advocate for digital rights, Brad naturally wants to avoid breaking any laws. And while fair use protects his parody from charges of copyright infringement, he wanted to ensure that he didn't accidentally violate other laws -- in particular the DMCA's prohibition on circumventing encryption.

This meant that Brad couldn't just rip a copy from the his own legally purchased DVD. Instead, just to be safe, he would have to make a copy of the film using the "analog hole," a form of copying that has been recognized by the courts as legally permissible.

When Fair Use Is Fairly Difficult

Hitler tries a DMCA takedown

(Thanks, Hugh!)


  1. I’ve been wondering how to get that scene in a clean file. There’s a WMV version at YouTube without the titles, but the quality isn’t great. Good to know the US region version has the titles encoded into the video. Off to order a region 2 version…

  2. Wow, I thought remixing Downfall was officially old meme, but that was the best I’ve seen…excellent!

  3. Lovely and intelligent intertextual parody. Subtile and serious humour. The first Moko Blog that mainly does this is currently published ex-New Zealand on angle.co.nz.

  4. It is an old meme, but a YouTube search shows many are still being added every week. The NYT article I link to suggests it is something people want to do in every field. Mine is most funny to people who have been playing in the copyfight world, with DRM, DMCA and the like, but fortunately it also has a meta-humour that can be appreciated outside because it’s attacking the very studio that made the clip and its fight against some of the clips.

    Just a note that while I don’t have a Blu-Ray player, I am pretty sure the U.S. Blu-Ray version of the film has proper, optional, subtitles. If the Blu-Ray player has S-video or component out, you should be able to get an excellent capture. There are even 720p capture cards available today that work on the analog component video, for an HD capture.

  5. Random brain fart of a question here, but is there a resource for tracking monthly sales of Downfall, since its release in April 2004?

    Would be interesting to see what happened to those sales after the first Downfall spoof (the xbox one) hit YouTube in June 2007…

  6. The problem with the objection to the take-down notices is that the courts have found using a work in the process of parodying that work to be fair use. They have not similarly found that using a work in the process of parodying something else to be similarly protected. I think that they may have even found the opposite. As a result, using Downfall to parody parking in Tel Aviv is would probably not be considered protected fair use.

    I believe that the scope of fair use should be broadened to include all use in parody, but it is not up to me.

  7. Brillant stuff. I’ve loved the various parodies which use these scenes, but agree this is possibly the first true parody by definition.

  8. The ‘analog hole’ just sounds so dirty to me…like that’s where all the kidz are doing it these days to avoid getting knocked up.

  9. Perhaps if the parody had no association with the movie, but I think each of these also says something about the scene underneath it, and how good, and at the same time, over the top it is. Well, I think the very first such parody was saying something about the movie as well as the subject, and perhaps you would argue that the others were all copying that concept.

    However, the one that got my attention was the “Hitler is a Meme” meta-parody, which talked about how Hitler was being parodied, talked about the lighting and camera angles. This one is much more clearly a fair use and it got a takedown.

    And then there’s mine, where the subject of my parody is the clip, and the studio and its takedowns of the clip, so I hope you don’t see any question there.

  10. Youtube will take stuff down if it sounds copyrighted. Those Youtube people are pussies.

    Ouch. That’s harsh.

  11. @Geekman Understanding the German and familiarity with the historical context of that conversation actually adds to the humor.

    Making a statement with is kinda iffy, because making anyone Hitler in that scene effectively makes you cause Stalin. He wasn’t really a nice guy either.

    Still hilarious.

  12. The plot thickens. Apple just rejected an iPhone app because it showed the EFF RSS feed, and this video was in it, with a dirty word.

    And more research shows the patterns of takedowns and Constantin at YouTomb, including a takedown of a different Hitler parody not based on their movie at all.

  13. The only problem with the Downfall parody is that I’ve seen this movie more than 50 times. I know what they are saying in German. So for me the ‘parody’ blows chunks. Why ruin a great movie with a parody about Apple’s bullcrap. No thank you.

    By the way Downfall RULES!

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