FOX steals game clip from Double Dribble on NES, gets original clip taken down under DMCA laws

Shortly after FOX complained to YouTube that the clip infringed on its copyright, YouTube took it down.


If you watched this week's episode of Family Guy on FOX, your inner geek might have perked up when Peter and Cleveland squared off in NES classic Double Dribble, originally released in 1987. Peter, not exactly known for walking the straight and narrow, cheats and exploits a glitch that lets his player hit three-pointers with every throw.

FOX lifted a clip of Double Dribble from a YouTube video uploaded in 2009. Then, after the episode aired, FOX complained to YouTube that the clip infringed on its copyright. YouTube responded by pulling the clip.

It's a blatant example of a wrongful takedown, and Torrent Freak decided to call them on it. Members of the site reached out to Fight for the Future CTO Jeff Lyon, who happened to have just watched the episode.

"It’s most likely that this is just another example of YouTube’s Content ID system automatically taking down a video without regard to actual copyright ownership and fair use," Lyon said (via Torrent Freak). As soon as FOX broadcast that Family Guy episode, their robots started taking down any footage that appeared to be reposted from the show — and in this case they took down the footage they stole from an independent creator."

Lyon's response highlights and obvious problem with automated content ID systems: they're programmed to react rather than do its homework. The code has no way to know sort out fair use from copyright infringement.

In effect, anyone could exploit YouTube's and similar content ID systems by filing a copyright claim and having a piece of content they want to use taken down. FOX didn't begin airing Family Guy until nearly 12 years later, so clearly they don't own the rights to Double Dribble.

But the onus of proving ownership falls on the creator. According to Lyon, "Creators are discouraged from filing counter-notices to stand up for their work, facing lost revenue and permanent bans from online platforms. This erodes fair use and free speech on the Internet."

Take Down Abuse recognized that FOX walking away the victor could set a dangerous precedent, and created a petition to help spread the word that DMCA takendowns are riddled with loopholes. "There should be strict penalties on false takedowns to protect fair use. Don't make the DMCA even worse by implementing a "staydown" rule that turns web sites into copyright cops."

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at and @davidlcraddock.

From The Chatty
    • reply
      May 20, 2016 2:11 PM

      Well, this was predicted for a while. Its only going to get worse.

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        May 20, 2016 5:51 PM

        Eventually the companies that lobbied for it will lobby against it. This will happen shortly after the current laws are expanded to include a $20,000 fine for receiving any DMCA notification that can only be settled via meditation run by content providers.

        The content publishers will get tired of fining each other and push to revoke the law.

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          May 20, 2016 6:26 PM

          That or they will just have an agreement among themselves.

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            May 20, 2016 6:31 PM

            Naw, they're way too greedy not to try and screw each other over.

    • reply
      May 20, 2016 6:09 PM


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      May 20, 2016 8:36 PM

      It would be less of an issue if Google wasn't close to the sole owner of all small user generated content.

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      May 20, 2016 9:41 PM

      I don't know what looks worse at this point. Fox for doing this, YouTube for allowing it, the government for the law, or Family Guy for thinking this was funny.

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      May 20, 2016 10:14 PM

      But the onus of proving ownership falls on the creator.

      Just a despicable load of bullshit. There will be absolutely zero repurcussions on FOX, and all the work involved in getting the video back online falls on the original creator. Makes me so god damned angry.

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      May 20, 2016 11:12 PM

      You know what family guy should do? Use clips in their next episode That are so generic that whole sections of YouTube are taken down.

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      May 20, 2016 11:59 PM

      the clip had me cracking up, good lord THROWIN THE 3

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