Jay Leno uses indie YouTube video; NBC gets it taken down

Internet outcry rises after Jay Leno uses a YouTube video without permission and NBC removes it with a copyright claim takedown.
Written by Violet Blue, Contributor

NBC/Universal used a YouTube video by an indie comedy duo (without permission) on The Jay Leno Show - then had the video taken down with a copyright claim.

The video's creators were originally pleased to see their video on Leno's show, but now have posted an open letter to Jay Leno and NBC asking for their video rights to be restored.

Despite growing internet outcry, both media giant and talk show host have not said or done anything to address the injustice.

The video saga began in 2007 when Brian Kamerer and Travis Irvine made a comedic video about running for mayor.

Jay Leno and NBC thought the video was funny enough to run on an episode of The Jay Leno Show in 2009.

Regrettably, the comedy duo only found out Leno and NBC used it on the show after the episode containing their video had already aired.

There were no hard feelings, at first - like many upcoming artists Kamerer and Irvine were pleased to get big-name recognition and happy their video could be enjoyed by Leno's audience and fans.

Perhaps in good faith, the pair felt that NBC's permissions procedure had been mistakenly overlooked.

But five days ago Kamerer discovered the video had been punitively removed from his YouTube account with a copyright claim: that the video is now copyright property of NBC.

Brian Kamerer and Travis Irvine aren't letting their video go down without a fight (it's currently reposted on Funny or Die).

Kamerer writes in An Open Letter to Jay Leno About Stealing My Video and Then Getting It Removed From YouTube:

Dear Jay Leno,

First off, my intention is not to fight you on this. You have more cars than I have dollars, and so I know I don’t stand a chance legally (...)

Your company NBC just up and blocked our video and claimed that we are copyright infringers!

But we are not! We made it!

And this is the video that you said you loved!

Now, if you try to watch our video (and again this is the video that had nothing to do with you until you used it in your show without asking) on YouTube it’s just a big black sign that basically says, “the makers of this video stole this video from NBC, so you can’t watch it!”

Jay, what in the hell is going on here? (...)

What the hell, indeed.

Leno and NBC may have their heads in the sand - and it wouldn't be the first time Leno/NBC acted like complete jerks and had to get spanked by the internet.

A year before snatching Kamerer's video, Leno invited actor Ryan Phillipe onto the show only to sexualize and ridicule the actor for once playing a gay character. Leno went so far that the actor nearly left the show while on-air: NBC and Leno suffered their first sting of internet outcry when a Tumblr parodying Leno's repulsive mockery surfaced.

But maybe you're saying, "it's not really Jay Leno's fault." And this may be true.

Yes, this might be a case of 'bots making mistakes, or worse, a large Hollywood company outsourcing their IP enforcement.

But none of this - from Leno to copyright carpetbombing - is a new problem.

I have to wonder how many other artists have had this happen to their work at the hands of companies like NBC and careless personality brands like Jay Leno.

Blaming robots just isn't good enough as far as I'm concerned.

Kamerer hit the nail on the head (chin?) when he wrote,

Jay, I humbly ask you to please stop calling me a thief on YouTube. It’s not true, and I don’t want the YouTube community to think I’m a jerk.

And I know you’re reading this going,

“Brian, you don’t understand! It’s not me, it’s just some NBC internet robot that scans YouTube videos and then compares the videos to the vast NBC library and just blocks the YouTube videos that match up, because the robot assumes the video has been stolen. Besides, you don’t own anything on YouTube! Don’t be mad at me, funny man Jay Leno! I liked your video! It’s the robot’s fault. The robot fucked up.”

Don’t hide behind NBC on this one, dude.

And don’t blame YouTube.

And forget about the robots.

I’m not talking to the robot now. I’m talking to you, Jay Leno.

Where does the buck stop on The Jay Leno Show, if not with Jay Leno himself?

The buck stops with you Jay.

I think Kamerer's post is a little over the top, but I also think that he has every right to lose it over this insanity. I mean, have you ever tried to tell YouTube that NBC is wrong? (I have, and no, they don't listen.)

It seems we should be living in a time where this kind of power imbalance doesn't happen anymore - powerful media blowhards getting a few minutes of laughs while talented artists get tossed around in their wake.

Yet it seems like this is exactly what's happening now more than before. Situations like this one just make it feel like entities such as NBC don't think they need to play by the same rules as everyone else on the internet.

If the price of national exposure turns into having your work used against you three years later, then being on shows like Leno's isn't really worth it for artists.

The bottom line is that this sucks for these kids and all others like them.

I hope enough noise gets made to get them their video back, and that NBC and Jay Leno learns... something about the internet.

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