Fair Use And The Power Rangers

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bout a week ago, a boot leg film called Power/Rangers (that slash is quite important) was released on YouTube and Vimeo. It was essentially a parody of the childhood favorite, but with a much darker, R-rated approach. It went viral instantly because frankly, it is pretty bada**. You definitely should check it out if you haven’t already.

Soon after, the owners of Power Rangers Franchise were raising hell due to copyright infringement claims and were clamoring for the video to be taken down, which it was, from both Vimeo and Youtube. After some negotiations, the video was eventually re-instated, as both sides came to terms in ensuring a better job was done in dissociating the “real” Power Rangers brand from the short film.

disclaimer

The disclaimer added to the start of the film, just in case you didn’t realize this wasn’t the real Power Rangers.

Outside of the film itself, this entire debacle once more instigated conversations around the rules of copyright/fair use, the internet, and creativity. A few thoughts came to mind.

1. The Ambiguity Around Fair Use

Although it was technically a satirical take on the Power Rangers, it’s clear that those rules are far from concrete, as the video was still taken down due to claims of infringement. The definition of fair use under the U.S. Copyright Law is as follows:

“the doctrine that brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder.”

If that dark, gritty, drug laced, blood spewing take on Power Rangers wasn’t a parody (aka criticism), then the show must be quite different then what I remember. Furthermore, there was no money made off the project itself and all the content was originally filmed, composed, and edited. If this isn’t fair us then what is?

2. The Remix Culture Is Challenged

Last week I shared a series of videos (here) talking about the Remix Culture of the internet and how originality is essentially gone. This is a great example of that idea. At the same time, it challenges it to its core, as the remix/recreation of the content is what made the film great. If it wasn’t popular, it probably would have gone unnoticed. If remix is also copyright infringement then there needs to be serious reform, because the internet has certainly changed the game…

3. The Internet Has No Bounds

Copyright law is different in every country, but the internet is the same everywhere. Copyright may have its place when it comes to physical goods or by location, but the internet is a completely different animal and needs to be acknowledged as such. We have to seriously revisit how we think about copyright when it comes to the digital world.

The internet is about sharing, collecting, and manipulating what’s out there. That’s why it’s such an amazing, creative force. To try to control that is a difficult endeavor, but it’s an idea that continues to gain momentum by the day and something we should all fight to preserve.

4. Creativity Is Still Under Valued

Ultimately, the disappointing thing is that a creative work was challenged and lost when it came up against the corporate world, yet again. Despite how much we seem to champion and value creativity, it still isn’t on par when it comes to the dollars and interests of those making millions.

This video, if anything, I think added to the Power Rangers brand. It’s actually cool and got people to start talking about the Power Rangers once again. Yet corporations only see things in black and white, and this was perceived as stolen ideas and took action, rather than celebrate the creativity and try to use it positively. Wrong decision.

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