by Noah Rayman, The Jerusalem Post
The parody video “We Con the World,” which mocked the international media coverage of the Gaza-bound “aid” flotilla that was stopped by Israeli naval commandos, has been removed from YouTube, where it received over 3 million views since it went up on June 3.
In removing the video from on Friday, YouTube posted a comment citing copyright infringement concerns from Warren Chappel Music Inc., which owns the rights to the 1985 charity fundraiser song “We Are the World.”
The video, made by the satirical Web site Latma TV depicts a mock crew of the flotilla, some wearing keffiyehs and speaking in faux Arab accents, performing a song to the tune of “We Are the World.”
The parody, which received international – and often critical – acknowledgement, is available on other Web sites, while a Hebrew subtitled version is still available on YouTube.
“It’s not as if a clip that has been seen by 3.5 million viewers is just going to disappear,” said Caroline Glick, the editor-in-chief of Latma, who is also a senior contributing editor of The Jerusalem Post.
Neither YouTube nor Warren Chappel Music Inc. has elaborated on the decision, and representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
Glick contested the notion that the video infringes on the original song. She said that Latma TV had received approval of the video from lawyers who cited the Fair Use Doctrine, an American copyright law that supports use of copyrighted material for satire.
“Copyright experts we advised with before posting the song told us in no uncertain terms that we were within our rights to use the song because we did so in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine,” Glick wrote on her Web site, in response to the removal of the video.
Glick wrote that the video’s removal reflects subjective decision-making at YouTube, which Glick said has a history of removing Israeli clips.
During Operation Cast Lead, for instance, the IDF Spokesman’s Unit posted footage of the fighting in Gaza. YouTube removed the clips and replaced them – restricted to viewers over 18 – only after protests from across the nation.
Other parodies of the song “We Are the World” are still available on YouTube, including a parody of President Barack Obama that garnered nearly 270,000 views.
YouTube’s decision to remove this particular parody was “not based on regulation but rather based on discretion,” said Amichai Farkas, who is part of WeJew.com, an alternative online video sharing service for the Jewish and pro-Israel community.
“Them taking this down was a pretty big message of the direction that they are taking,” Farkas said of YouTube, speculating that they were caving to “sensitivities to seeming too pro- Israel.”
“We see a double standard here,” Glick said. “Ours is the only one that has been attacked.”
The song “We Are the World,” written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, was first recorded in 1985 by an array of famous performers as part of a fund-raiser for Africa. It is among the bestselling singles of all time.
After January’s earthquake in Haiti, a collection of top artists rerecorded the song to raise funds for the recovery effort.
Glick said that Latma TV is waiting for advice from American lawyers before taking action to oppose YouTube’s decision.
“If anybody thinks that this is going to intimidate us, then they’re sorely mistaken,” she said.
The Web site is already preparing a new video for Thursday as part of its weekly releases.
“We’re making a stir and we’re defending Israel,” she said. “What can be better than that?”