Excellent “Don’t Stop Boycottin'” flashmob in NYC censored on YouTube

I realize that I am a few weeks late in mentioning this particular video but this is by far one of the best BDS flashmobs I’ve ever seen. Watch three dozen activists sing and dance to their own version of the hit song “Don’t Stop Believing” in New York City’s Grand Central Station. Brought to you by Adalah NY.

Please note that this is a silenced version of the video. During its first week on YouTube, the video was taken down due to copyright infringement. YouTube received complaints that the music violated copyright laws even though it was sung live and, although based on an actual song, contained its own variation of words and verses to make it relate to the growing BDS movement.

On 5 April 2011, Adalah NY released a statement concerning this apparent censorship:

Hannah Mermelstein from Adalah-NY commented, “The Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is growing in influence and power as evidenced by the popularity of our video. We are dismayed that our video has been removed from YouTube and are working to make it available again. We fear that this is but another example of attempts to silence calls for justice and Palestinian rights. But the BDS movement to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against Palestinians will not be silenced.”

In January, YouTube removed a Saint Louis Boycott Motorola Flash Mob video that parodied the Beyonce/Lady Gaga song “Telephone” as the video reached 35,000 views. As was the case with the Saint Louis flash mob video, there are tens of parody versions of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” currently posted on YouTube.

There are 7 comments

  1. Brian Mayer

    I do hope you’re not agreeing that there’s some conspiracy at work here to silence protest. That’s a little out there, even for you.

    Maybe the BDS movement should write an original song?

  2. Robin

    Sami, copyright includes the music. It is copyright infringement to take the music someone else has written and create what is in copyright terms called a “derivative”. The copyright holder–meaning the one who wrote the MUSIC has exclusive rights to that music being used for anything else. Remember LATMA’s “We Con the World”? Warner as Lionel Richie’s rep submitted a DMCA take down notice to Youtube to take it down. ONLY the copyright holder can do this and they also do so upon penalty–if they submit a bogus DMCA take down they can be sued. The song was reproduced, Digital Millenium Copyright Act was violated.

    Many musicians who have only used a few musical stanza’s from another persons copyrighted music have been sued and they LOST. A love the work Adalah does, but in this case they are going to lose and will have any of their future derivative works (using the music with different lyrics) taken down rightfully as well. Copyright is a very tricky area of the law and you better be sure you are on firm ground before using anyone else’s copyrighted works and then putting it on the internet where you are bound to get caught. Think of it as plagiarism in simpler terms. The songs music was plagiarized. A legal no no.

  3. Sami Kishawi

    Interesting comments and thanks for the clarification. My initial understanding was that YouTube received a series of complaints that eventually prompted it to take the video down on its own. YouTube is the last place on earth to censor someone/something so this definitely confused me a bit. But this makes perfect sense. I’m not a legal expert, especially when it comes to music, but it’s interesting that this — of all the possible renditions of the song — was requested to be removed.

  4. Brian Mayer

    It is possible that the controversy surrounding the video made it catch the eye of the copyright protectors at YouTube more than the other videos, and in that case your problem is not with their policy (or a perceived agenda behind it) but with the politics of the people who visit YouTube (or raise stinks).

    What you write is compelling enough without you needing to fall into the trap of adopting irrational conspiracy theories, especially with regard to the media. I hear this from the pro Israel camp all the time also. The media is not out to get anyone! They have their biases but there is no secret, evil agenda. They are just people trying to earn a living reporting the news, and get heard by as many people as possible, like you are. The only exception to this rule are state-run medias which thankfully are few and far between…

    1. Sami Kishawi

      Well for one thing, the article didn’t propose nor defend a conspiracy theory. It didn’t explicitly claim YouTube chose to remove the video. What the article does say, however, is that the video was taken down by YouTube after complaints were received. I don’t think the media is out to get me/us/you/them/whoever. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that this particular video was taken down. I’m sure it has everything to with the political agenda but this does not mean it devolves into something of no interest.

  5. Robin

    Please please listen Brian. ONLY the copyright holder can request a DMCA take down. Even IF Youtube contacted the songwriters about their music being infringed, ONLY the copyright holder can request the take down.

    Here’s the thing with Youtube DMCA takedowns, you can cooperate with them OR you can challenge them. All you do is send in this form

    http://www.youtube.com/t/copyright_counter

    Youtube does not have “copyright protectors”-they have a form the COPYRIGHT HOLDER fills out to request a DMCA takedown. This is that form:

    http://www.youtube.com/t/dmca_policy

    A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

    A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

    To sum up, Addalah, could, if they wish, hopefully after conferring with legal counsel, submit a DMCA counter notice to Youtube. They would be doing so under Fair Use, but I warn them they are on very shaky ground re derivative works and the legal fees would be a factor in deciding to take this action. The party to be upset with is not Youtube, it is the copyright holder.

    Again, I LOVE the work Addalah does and wish I could write something different about this case. But from being a blogger who has been involved in this issue on several occasions I am giving my opinion based on personal experience with this issue.

  6. Robin

    OK for curiosity sake, here’s another derivative version of “Don’t Stop Believing”

    Hmmmmmm, let’s see, I’m going to see if I can find out if they asked prior to producing this video to use the music. Because that is the safe way to go, get permission from the copyright holder prior to use just like Weird Al Yankovitch always did (and in a case or two was told no)

    I’ll let you know what I find out Sami if I can get hold of the folks.

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