[UPDATE] Lansdowne library spoof of 'Beat It' restored to YouTube
November 27, 2012By Peter Crimmins
[UPDATE — Nov. 28, 10 a.m.] The Lansdowne Public Library's video spoof of Michael Jackson's "Beat It," forcibly removed from YouTube after three days, has been restored. Sony Music, which administers music copyrights for the Jackson estate, had previously said the video was in violation of copyright law.
You may remember the beginning of the Michael Jackson video "Beat It," when some street toughs crawl out from underneath a manhole cover, all headbands and sleeveless T-shirts, on their way to a street rumble.
Teenaged patrons of the Lansdowne Public Library made a more literate spoof of it, called "Read It."
"Instead of coming out of the sewer, they're coming out of our bookdrop," said library director Sandra Giannella. "We have over a dozen kids coming out of the bookdrop in the front of the library."
For six weeks, students in an after-school program conceived, danced, and shot their version of "Read It," which pits e-readers against traditionally bound books. About 50 teenagers rotated through the project.
"We had a big program, and we showed it at our big program, and I had some technical difficulties showing it," said librarian Abbe Klebanoff. "I thought, I'll just put it on YouTube and I can show it there."
"Read It" is a parody, like thousands of other amateurish parodies on YouTube: "Weed It," about librarians weeding old books; "Tweet It," about a fight between users of iPhones and users of iPads; another "Read It," encouraging people to read the Bible. And the granddaddy of them all, Weird Al Yankovic's "Eat It."
None have permission — aside from Mr. Yankovic, of course, who paid to parody "Beat It." Yet only the Lansdowne Public Library's video was forcibly removed after three days.
When the librarians asked that it be posted again to YouTube, Sony Music, which administers music copyrights for the Jackson estate, said the video is in violation of copyright law.
A Sony spokesman said he did not know how or why the video was initially singled out and pulled from YouTube, only that the request to repost was denied. Sony has granted the Lansdowne library permission to use the video on its own website, provided it does not use YouTube, Vimeo, or any other third-party streaming service.
Librarian Klebanoff says the library does not have the technical resources to create their own video streamer, nor the legal resources to claim the right to parody under the fair use doctrine.