Paul Brownstein Productions claims YouTube ownership of US government movie, could have Public Resource's YouTube account killed

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud sez,

Cory Doctorow wrote in the Guardian about our copyright problems on YouTube with FedFlix, a channel of U.S. government videos. On January 4, we protested one of the ContentID matches on a 1974 film called Pathfinder, which was paid for and produced by the Fish and Wildlife Service. A Hollywood shop called Paul Brownstein Productions had been monetizing the video by forcing ads in front of each viewing. After we protested, Paul Browstein Productions got nasty and forced removal of the video and gave us a so called Copyright Strike on our account. If we get 3 strikes, our account is cancelled.

It seems wrong for some individual to monetize and then remove a video produced by the U.S. government. Even worse, it seems really wrong for that individual to try me and convict me in abstentia with no due process or indeed without even an explanation. If SOPA passes, this is exactly the kind of arbitrary enforcement we're going to see. I think this is wrong and I hate seeing these poachers claiming the public domain, so I uploaded the video twice more.

Under the ContentID system, Paul Brownstein now has the option of declaring our two new uploads to be violations and the FedFlix account will be terminated on YouTube. Judge Paul holds his fate on our hands. We've had 10 million views on that account and another 10 million on the Internet Archive. Is it right for some individual to make that choice for all of us? Stop SOPA or we're going to live in that kind of world.

Judge Paul Called Me a Thief: I Was Tried In Abstentia, Convicted and Sent to Copyright School (Thanks, Carl!)


  1. Until we straighten out our copyright & patent laws (which I’m all for, BTW) we’re going to continue to stifle innovation. Right now too few entities are trying to control the whole shebang, and anyone with the right form can cause headaches for anyone.

  2. I have read a lot of copy text about all that is bad with SOPA, but Dr. Malamud’s discussion is by far, the clearest and most direct I have seen.

      1. I believe the word they’re looking for is absentia, not abstentia. Though, I suppose he could have been tried while refusing to vote on an issue.

  3. It looks like there might be content in there from the CBS program Wild America. Brownstein and his company are closely associated with CBS so maybe that’s the reasoning behind the claim. 

  4. Why is this about SOPA? Doesn’t this problem exist already even without SOPA? Don’t just stop SOPA/PIPA but fix youtubes account removal and DMCA.

    1. This is about SOPA because it’s an illustration of the kind of problems that SOPA will bring. One organization or individual claims ownership of a piece of content, and you can be closed down without explanation or appeal. Malamud’s problems with Paul Brownstein Productions are exactly the kind of thing we will see if SOPA passes, with the difference that the consequences may be even more far-reaching.

  5. “try me and convict me in absentia with no due process”

    That alone makes me wonder how such a law could stand in court.

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