YouTube Kills Hitler Parodies

11:25 AM The famous Internet meme comes to an end after German production company complains

April 21, 2010

2 Min Read
YouTube Kills Hitler Parodies

11:25 AM -- Nearly all of the Hitler parodies that have become famous on the Web over the past year or so have been removed from YouTube after Constantin Film, the producer and distributor of the German film they use, complained about its content on the site.

You've probably seen the parodies before -- they take the bunker scene of Constantin's Der Untergang (The Downfall), in which Hitler reacts to news that Germany is losing the war, and add in satirical subtitles to show Hitler responding instead to Leno taking back The Tonight Show or the release of Apple's iPad, etc.

Now almost all of them have been removed, thanks to YouTube's ContentID service, which finds clips containing a particular copyrighted work's video or audio and removes them automatically.

The problem with this, as Electronic Frontier Foundation's Corynne McSherry points out, is that these parodies constitute fair use under copyright laws -- and yet they're being removed along with infringing videos.

"Because the Content I.D. filter permits a copyright owner to disable any video that contains its copyrighted content -- whether or not that video contains other elements that make the use a noninfringing fair use -- a content owner can take down a broad swath of fair uses with the flick of a switch. It seems that’s exactly what Constantin Film has chosen to do," she writes.

Many are also criticizing Constantin for killing an Internet meme that has kept Der Untergang, a 2004 contender for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars, in the public consciousness -- something even the film's director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, has admitted in the past.

"You couldn't get a better compliment as a director," Hirschbiegel told New York Magazine in January.

Constantin has not yet made a statement revealing what its intentions were. Whenever a user attempts to play a Hitler parody on YouTube, they simply receive this (slightly ungrammatical) message instead: "This video contains content from Constantin Film, who has blocked it on copyright grounds." But for now there is still "Hitler reacts to the Hitler parodies being removed from YouTube," in which Hitler makes some good points, below:

— Erin Barker, Digital Content Reporter, Light Reading Cable

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