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A screenshot from Jonathan McIntosh’s Buffy vs. Edward remix video, successfully reinstated by New Media Rights on Jan. 10.

Photo Courtesy: YouTube.com
California Western Program Successfully Defends Online Media Artist’s Right to Free Speech
Appeals by New Media Rights prove crucial in reversing unlawful takedown of popular internet video

SAN DIEGO, January 22, 2013 - For months, the New Media Rights program at California Western has defended San Francisco artist Jonathan McIntosh in a copyright battle with Lionsgate Entertainment. According to New Media Rights Executive Director Art Neill and law clerk/current California Western student Katrina Julian, the unlawful takedown of McIntosh’s popular video “Buffy vs. Edward: Twilight Remixed” abused the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) content removal process.

Appeals by New Media Rights ultimately proved to be successful, as the video was reinstated on YouTube as of January 10.

Although "Buffy vs. Edward" had been previously cited by name in the U.S. Copyright Office’s 2012 official recommendations (.pdf) for exemptions to the DMCA as an example of a legally protectable “transformative noncommercial video work,” Lionsgate ignored fair use policy and had it removed because the film studio could not place advertisements on the video, according to Neill.

"Jonathan's is just one of a number of cases that suggest there are huge media companies that intend to blindly monetize every reuse of content,” explains Neill, “even if it means steamrolling fair use policy and the artist’s right to freedom of speech.”

Consisting of remixed scenes from television’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the “Twilight” series of films, the “Buffy vs. Edward” video has been viewed more than three million times on YouTube and been translated into 30 different languages since 2009. It is also used in law school programs, media studies courses, and gender studies curricula across the country—resulting in countless online debates over the troubling ways that stalking-type behavior is often framed as deeply romantic in movie and television narratives. The video’s social implications have been discussed by media outlets as well, including the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, NPR, Salon, Slate, Wired, Vanity Fair, and Entertainment Weekly.

About New Media Rights
Based at San Diego’s California Western School of Law, New Media Rights is a nonprofit that provides free and reduced-fee legal assistance and education to internet users, journalists, and technology and media entrepreneurs. The New Media Rights program also provides unique hands-on training opportunities for California Western students interested in practicing internet and media law, furthering the law school’s commitment to community engagement and pro bono services.

Founded by attorney and adjunct California Western professor Art Neill in 2007, New Media Rights often takes part in regulatory proceedings at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and U.S. Copyright Office. Neill and his colleagues have provided comments and testimony to facilitate consideration of exemptions to Anti-Circumvention provisions—critical to protecting otherwise legal activity by Internet users and independent creators. New Media Rights was also asked by the Copyright Office to testify during hearings on a proposal to create a small claims system for copyright disputes, as abuses of copyright law are rampant in the current system—where creators and internet users regularly face baseless content removals and settlement demands.

Since New Media Rights is an independent project at California Western, it continues to rely on grants and individual donations to fund its work.