High schoolers making music video to promote school spirit gain lesson in copyright law instead


From The Telegram:

Giles Ober and his two Algonquin Regional High School classmates were ecstatic when their lip-synched video showcasing the school’s spirit soared to more than 30,000 views in just a few days last week. Then YouTube pulled the plug.

“Everyone’s devastated — the faculty, the administration, parents within the towns,” Ober said. “It’s been overwhelming.”

The video — a virtual tour of the school, while students lip-sync to the tune of Owl City’s “Good Time” — involved more than 950 Algonquin students and was produced by Ober along with classmates Nic Zanghi and Samuel Huddart as part of a marketing class for school. They posted the video on YouTube March 4. YouTube removed it shortly after it appeared with a story on telegram.com last Thursday.

Since the video is for an educational institution and no profit was being made off it, Ober said they were confident that their use of the Owl City tune fell within fair use. They even went the extra mile and included a link to the song on iTunes where it could be legally purchased.

That song is owned, however, by Universal Music Group, which Ober said asked YouTube to take the video down. A call to Universal from the Telegram & Gazette was not returned. It caught the students off guard.

“I’m surprised that any music company is even attempting to do this kind of pull-down,” said William L. Boesch, an attorney with Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Coen. Boesch specializes in intellectual property law. “It does sound like fair use. They’re not trying to profit from the video or the performance of the song.”

Ober says the school has received offers from attorneys connected with the Algonquin community to help and have been asking Universal to reconsider.

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