'MySpace: The Movie' Gets Self-Policed off YouTube

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NEW YORK ( -- Since Jan. 31, more than 4 million people have used to watch “MySpace -- The Movie,” a parody of News Corp.’s social networking site MySpace. But YouTube users attempting to watch the video earlier this week were unable to do so. Instead, they saw a discouraging message: “Status: Rejected (copyright infringement).”
The film is a series of vignettes around mishaps of using MySpace, such as your mother bursting in on you while you're trying to take an alluring picture for your site or blind dates who look nothing like their picture.

Filmmaker didn’t request removal
The 11-minute short film was created by 21-year-old David Lehre, who owes a lot to YouTube, because the exposure his video got on the film-sharing site led to his snagging a development deal with MTVU. The film became one of YouTube’s most-viewed clips of all time. It was originally posted by a 17-year-old blogger who uses the screen name Eggtea. “MySpace -- The Movie" can also be viewed at Mr. Lehre’s own Web site,, but due to traffic overwhelming his server, his site directs people back to YouTube.

So where was the copyright infringement?

Eggtea angrily speculated on his blog that the video was removed because “YouTube got tired of it being there [sic] most popular video ever.”

A more reasonable conclusion, in light of NBC’s recent objection to YouTube’s posting of “Saturday Night Live” sketches, is that News Corp. had called for the removal of the movie, objecting to use of the MySpace brand.

But it wasn’t News Corp. either. In fact, the social networking site has been very supportive of the short film -- going so far as to promote it on MySpace’s front page, Mr. Lehre said. In recent months, Mr. Lehre met with the two co-founders of MySpace, and he said they were “cool with" the short.

A result of user-policing
The culprits responsible for removing the movie from the site were the site’s own users. Julie Supan, senior director-marketing at YouTube, said the film’s removal was the unintentional result of a database function that automatically removes a clip after a certain number of users flag the material as either being inappropriate or in violation of a copyright.

The 11-minute film based on the social networking site has been watched by more than 4 million people.

“The users are very diligent about policing themselves,” Ms. Supan said.

After a clip receives a certain number of flags, it is reviewed by YouTube for objectionable material. If the video does not violate YouTube’s user agreement, it is restored to the site after review. “Sometimes the community can be a little overzealous,” Ms. Supan said. “But, generally, they know and understand the rules.”

Because so many people viewed “MySpace -- The Movie,” it accrued a high number of flags. Once YouTube learned of the removal, the site reinstated the popular clip. YouTube plans to change the rules of community policing to add another step to the flagging process to prevent the removal of other widely viewed shorts.

Content control
YouTube offers unparalleled exposure, but some creators of content want to be the only source through which users can access their material. NBC recently asked YouTube to remove “SNL” sketches, choosing instead to make the viral favorites available on its own Web site and on iTunes.

Mr. Lehre, however, is not interested in the advertising revenue he could get by controlling access to his film. “I don’t plan to get rich off of online stuff,” he said. “I just want people to watch the film and have a good time.”

In fact, he plans to utilize YouTube to publicize future films. “I plan to use any and all ways to get my work out there.”

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