Music Business

Toronto Mayor’s Kanye West Video Killed By Copyright

3Is the takedown-first approach to copyright infringement really a good option? A recent video featuring the Mayor of Toronto head-bopping to Kanye has been pulled, with little consideration given to fair use.


Guest Post by Timothy Geigner on

 When you assume a takedown-first posture regarding intellectual property and DMCA notices, that posture brings with it certain situations which make everyone look foolish. You get 80's music stars yanking six-second vine clips offline, for instance. Or you get radio blowhards using copyright to censor criticism online. And, of course, you get self-proclaimed representatives of aliens from the future issuing takedowns over images that said alien will be creating in said future. In each of those cases, the content was immediately taken down by the service provider, because thems the rules these days. And it sucks. 

Just like it sucks when the mayor of Toronto can't make a funny little parody video mocking himself because it includes a Kanye West song.

Less than 24 hours after a ballcap-wearing John Tory bobbed his head to a Kanye West song through Toronto’s subway system, the joke video appears to have been taken down. The mayor poked fun at himself in the one-minute gag clip posted Thursday, after he mistook West, who is American, for a Canadian artist earlier this week. 

“This Tweet from @JohnTory has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder.”


Yup, because the Mayor wanted to have a little fun with his thought that ol' Yeezy was Canadian, his video gets hit with a takedown. Perhaps it was caught by some kind of automated system designed to weed out content covered by copyright… but that would make this even worse. The video, as Tory's people are acknowledging, was supposed to be a form of parody, one which would be protected as fair use. But in the takedown first culture, that doesn't really matter. The content still comes down. If it comes down by an automated system, then there's literally no possibility any thought towards fair use would be had. 

And that sucks. With more ways than ever to share content with each other, these kinds of harmless things are supposed to be fun. But the fun gets killed off by a copyright system designed to restrict first and maybe ask questions later.

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