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EFF Assails YouTube for Removing 'Hitler Finds Out' Parodies
April 20, 2010
Thomas Mennecke
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It's hard not to come across one of the many "Hitler Finds Out..." internet memes. These viral videos parody Hitler's temper tantrum in the bunker scene from the 2004 independent movie "Downfall". In reality, the bunker scene depicts Hitler reacting furiously to the news that the war is lost as Soviet troops close in on Berlin. The internet parody leaves the video and audio intact, but replaces the subtitles with Hitler reacting to ridiculous every day events, like having his xBox live account canceled, or finding out that Michael Jackson died.

The distributor of the film apparently doesn't have the sense of humor that the parodies invoke. According to the EFF, the film's distributor, Constantin Film, is using YouTube's automated Content ID system to remove many of the the parodies. This method basically takes a Gatling gun to YouTube, and fires blindly at anything resembling an unauthorized work - including parodies. From the EFF:

"In a depressing twist, these remixes are reportedly disappearing from YouTube, thanks to Constantin Film (the movie’s producer and distributor) and YouTube’s censorship-friendly automated filtering system, Content I.D. Because the Content I.D. filter permits a copyright owner to disable any video that contains its copyrighted content -- whether or not that video contains other elements that make the use a noninfringing fair use -- a content owner can take down a broad swath of fair uses with the flick of a switch. It seems that’s exactly what Constantin Film has chosen to do."

This automated method indeed seems like the coward's way out - since if they filed a DMCA complaint, there are legal consequences if it turns out the work in question wasn't copyrighted (such as parodies). Interestingly enough, EFF Board Member Brad Templeton's version, where Hitler is a movie producer ranting about sales declines, DMCA notices and suing customers, is still available on YouTube (and further pointing out the flawed Content ID system.)

Hitler, as "Downfall producer" orders a DMCA takedown from Brad Templeton on Vimeo.

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