Undoubtedly the lion’s share of copyright infringement lawsuits filed in the United States concern file-sharing activity, something which inevitably pits large entertainment corporations against Joe Public. David versus Goliath, it now seems, is heading to YouTube channel near you.
Late Friday, TorrentFreak received a tip linking us to a YouTube video posted on Channel Criswell. In it a visibly shaken and somewhat bewildered young man tries to keep his composure while delivering what is clearly upsetting news.
“A couple of hours ago I received a court summons in the post. The reason I’m being sued is for the Stanley Kubrick video that I uploaded in February. I don’t know what to do,” said Channel Criswell operator Lewis Bond.
“I thought all this was over and done with and we could move on and no-one would have to take any legal action. But apparently I am being sued for copyright infringement and the people that have filed this lawsuit against me are after the maximum damages, which if I’ve read it correctly can be up to $150,000. And this….this would ruin me,” he choked.
To understand the nature of this case it’s first necessary to examine Lewis’ work. Watching just a couple of minutes of the video embedded below should leave readers in no doubt that his work is documentary in nature, with masses of commentary and criticism throughout. Lewis Bond is a talented man.
Throughout the five minute video in which Bond reports his plight, the young filmmaker never refers to the people behind the lawsuit by name. However, we have ascertained that the claimants are US-based Serendip LLC and their claim has nothing to do with Kubrick himself.
In a complaint filed in a New York District Court back in March, Serendip LLC explain that they own the copyrights to music created by composer Wendy Carlos. Among other works, Carlos wrote the soundtracks for both A Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Shining (1980). The complaint involves the former.
“The three pieces of music at issue in this action were used in the soundtrack of the motion picture ‘A Clockwork Orange’, entitled ‘Title Music From A Clockwork Orange’, ‘March From A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘William Tell Overture’,” the company explains.
“Unbeknownst to, and without permission or license from, Serendip, Defendant Lewis Bond made derivative works of music and sound recording works by Wendy Carlos in the soundtrack of a video, entitled ‘Stanley Kubrick – The Cinematic Experience.’
“On or about February 20, 2016, with the purpose, inter alia, of monetizing the video for his own benefit, Defendant uploaded the video with user name Channel Criswell to YouTube.com and linked to the YouTube video on Twitter.com and Patreon.com.”
Serendip describe the video (embedded above) as a “mélange of brief snippets taken from Stanley Kubrick’s motion pictures” alongside an “aggregate of about 3 minutes of music taken from the three tracks listed in the complaint.
The publisher says that the music used by Bond represents “substantial portions” of the tracks “ranging from 18% of a piece of 7 minutes duration to 45% of a piece of 2 minutes 20 seconds duration.”
Lewis in happier times
There is absolutely no mention of a fair use exception in the lawsuit filed by Serendip however there is a subtle hint that the company might believe that Bond’s commentary on Kubrick’s work not only stopped short of musical analysis, but also presented Carlos’ work out of context.
“With the exception of about 5 seconds of the ‘William Tell Overture’, the music is not synced to picture as in the soundtrack of ‘A Clockwork Orange’, but instead is used behind many unrelated snippets from various Kubrick movies and the video shorts. At no time, does the video commentary discuss the music or its context as displayed in the video,” the lawsuit reads.
According to the publisher it sent a takedown notice to YouTube back in February and the platform responded by disabling the video. In response, Bond reportedly filed a counter-notice, which YouTube passed on with a note that “Serendip must file a federal court action within 10 business days or YouTube may reinstate the video to YouTube.com.”
From this point it’s clear that Bond felt that Serendip had overstepped the mark and according to the publisher he expressed those concerns several times in public. In summary, however, Serendip feel they are absolutely entitled to sue the YouTuber, describing his actions as “willful, intentional, and purposeful, in disregard of and indifferent to Serendip’s rights.”
In addition to an injunction the publisher is also pressing for statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement plus attorneys fees.
Only time will tell how this case will play out, but by picking on the easiest of soft targets Serendip is unlikely to endear itself with the Internet masses. The Ludovico technique sickened Alex whenever he heard his beloved Beethoven. This lawsuit might sadly do the same for fans of the brilliant Clockwork Orange.