transformers3copyright

Those of us who live in major cities may have been fortunate enough, at one point or another, to happen upon a movie in the process of being filmed. The near-universal reaction is understandable: most people will whip out a camera and try to take a picture or shoot a short video. If you’re lucky, you may get footage of an action scene or a major star.

You might think that it is perfectly legal to film an event taking place in a public place in broad daylight. But after an innocuous video of the Transformers 3 shoot was abruptly pulled from Youtube, it is clear that according to Paramount Pictures’ legal department, you are violating copyright.

Ben Brown was a fan of Transformers 3, so when he saw the film being shot outside of an office building he was visiting, he knew what it was immediately. He used his iPhone to shoot three minutes of footage, which actually had some pretty interesting material from what is apparently an action scene in the upcoming film.

After putting it on Youtube, the video got popular quite quickly, accumulating 36,000 views in 48 hours. But in yet another sign that our DMCA takedown system is out of control, Paramount Pictures filed a copyright claim against the video, causing Google to automatically take it down. Google automatically takes down videos identified in DMCA notices because it does not have the resources to adjudicate these incidents on a case-by-case basis. Instead, it relies on content creators to file counter notices, swearing that the work is legal (Here’s Ben’s counter notice).

“Obviously, since Transformers 3 has not been completed, there is no way that I violated any copyright,” Brown writes. “I shot a video of activity in a public space.” I’m no legal expert, but I’m going to have to side with Brown here. This unfortunate incident is obviously the result of a trigger-happy Paramount underling firing off DMCA notices without even watching what’s being taken down. Brown has filed a counter-notice, and the video should be restored within 2 weeks.

Many people might just give up after a DMCA takedown results in their work being removed. It’s important to know that there are options to restore your work, especially if it falls under Fair Use, or if it violates no law (as in this case).

Strangely enough, one of Ben’s co-workers also made a video of the behind-the-scenes footage, which is still available online. You can watch it below.

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