Is YouTube Right To Take Down Hitler Parodies?

In honor of Hitler’s birthday yesterday, news spread on the Internet that YouTube has started taking down Hitler parody videos. Constantin Film, makers of the 2004 film Downfall, have requested that YouTube remove all videos using clips from their film and YouTube is doing just that. Since the film’s release six years ago there have been literally hundreds of parodies uploaded, with creators re-subtitling scenes of the film. Popular clips include ‘Hitler Responds to the iPad‘ and ‘Hitler Reacts to the Kanye West Incident at the VMAs‘. The end of an era is approaching as YouTube takes these videos down.

As Hitler parodies are being removed from YouTube, one by one, controversy is filling the air. Many people are saying that Constantin Film has no right to request that these videos be taken down as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) files parodies under “fair use” and are not legitimate infringements of copyright, as Constantin is claiming. Many people are also asking why Constantin is suddenly filing complaints now, after years of Hitler parodies have been unleashed on the web. People love these videos, and they aren’t doing the studio any harm. Rather, they are serving to promote the film.

Even Oliver Hirschbiegel, the director of Downfall, admits to enjoying the parodies. In an interview with New York Magazine, Hirschbiegel said, “Someone sends me the links every time there’s a new [parody]. I think I’ve seen about 145 of them! Many times the lines are so funny, I laugh out loud, and I’m laughing about the scene that I staged myself! You couldn’t get a better compliment as a director.”

Constantin Film executive Martin Moszkowicz explains the studio’s position in a BBC interview. He says, “On the one hand, we are proud the picture has such a huge fan base and that people are using it for parody. On the other hand, we are trying to protect the artists.” What about protecting the artists that put time and effort into creating these popular parodies? Do you think that Constantin Film is justified in their request and that YouTube is doing the right thing by removing videos from their site?