A dispute between comedian Miel Bredouw and digital media powerhouse Barstool Sports has put a spotlight on a social media problem that far too often gets overlooked: copyright infringement. Bredouw took to Twitter Monday evening to relay the struggles she faced against Barstool and Twitter’s copyright policies.
The problems began when Barstool uploaded an original video of Bredouw’s without permission or credit in December, which she promptly reported to Twitter after her requests to be credited were ignored. The video was immediately taken down.
The video in question is a 36-second clip Bredouw posted on Youtube two years ago of her realizing the Christmas classic “Carol of the Bells” synced well with Three 6 Mafia’s “Slob On My Knob.” The video, like much of Bredouw’s work, went viral. Of course, that should be a good thing for exposure on Bredouw’s behalf, but the nature of social media means the video was reposted repeatedly without her permission more times than she can count.
The true crime here isn’t just that Barstool stole the video, it’s the fact that they, and any other account, avoid any amount of punishment if they fight back.
After the video was taken down, Barstool began reaching out via multiple affiliated accounts across any social media service Bredouw uses in an effort to resolve the conflict. Barstool initially offered a trade to have Bredouw remove the claim and allow Barstool to keep the video up with proper credit to the comedian. Over the past three months the offer ramped up to a $2,000 offer to have the claim rescinded.
Barstool then took advantage of a Twitter legal loophole by filing a counter-notice to allow the video to be put back which forces Berdouw to have to take legal action to resolve the matter in her favor. Once a counter-notice is employed, the case is out of Twitter’s hands entirely, according to company policy on the matter.
“If the copyright owner disagrees that the content was removed in error or misidentification, they may pursue legal action against you. If we do not receive notice within 10 business days that the original reporter is seeking a court order to prevent further infringement of the material at issue, we may replace or cease disabling access to the material that was removed.
We cannot offer any legal advice. Should you have questions, please consult an attorney.”
“I think what it really comes down to is support. For reasons I and the rest of the internet don’t seem to understand, Twitter refuses to have human support with major issues on the website like harassment and death threats and suspension of accounts,” Bredouw told The Verge. “It’s insane to me that the platform is allowing them to do this.”
Twitter’s copyright policy works on a strike basis, though the strikeout number isn’t known. Once that number is hit, Twitter will look to lock or shut down the violating account. Berdouw speculated Barstool’s actions show they could be nearing the count.
Berdouw isn’t going to continue the fight against Barstool and whether the video is up now or not, Barstool won in a situation where they were blatantly wrong. Copyright infringement, in an age where anyone can create original content for the whole world to see, is not an easy thing to police. It remains to be seen if Berdouw’s tirade will be enough to invoke change and help content creators get the credit they are due.