TED Accused of Silencing TED Talks Criticism With the DMCA

YouTuber Accuses TED of Silencing TED Talks Criticism
  • Save

YouTuber Accuses TED of Silencing TED Talks Criticism
  • Save
Image by urban_data (CC by 2.0)

“Ideas are worth spreading [but maybe not criticizing].”

Ted Talks videos currently enjoy massive popularity on the internet. Well-known figures and celebrities have appeared on TedTalks, like Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Sarah Silverman, and even Bono, among others. TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, provides 18-minute informative and engaging talks. Ideas are worth spreading, according to TED’s slogan. However, a YouTuber says that TED doesn’t spread ideas; rather, it silences them.

Kelli Jean Drinkwater recently gave a controversial talk titled Enough with the Fear of Fat. She confronted the audience with perception of bigger bodies by “bringing them into spaces that were once off limits,” confronting body politics. The talk received its fair share of criticism. According to TorrentFreak, however, a YouTuber from Australia, Bearing, received a DMCA takedown notice after posting his critique on YouTube. He told TorrentFreak,

If you visit [TED’s] website’s ‘about’ page, you will learn that TED is a ‘nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas’, their mission is ‘to spread ideas’, and their agenda is to ‘make great ideas accessible and spark conversation.’

So when I saw Kelli’s video, I had a few of my own ideas and decided to spark a conversation, you know, in that true TED spirit. Needless to say, I was a little bit baffled when TED sent me a DMCA takedown notice a few hours after my video was uploaded. Yup, apparently some ideas are worth silencing.”

Bearing currently has over 254,000 subscribers. The YouTuber posts videos criticizing feminism. Bearing’s latest video is titled, Feminism brainwashing ‘queer kids’ with misinformation. According to the YouTuber, TED filed a DMCA takedown notice, so YouTube decided to take his critique down.

“My response video to Kelli was for the purpose of offering criticism and comment. I used three minutes and 54 seconds, around 29% of her total video. It made up around 20% of my video, which ran for 16.5 minutes.”

Bearing argues that he only took small portions of the video, thus, it should count under the fair use rule. To clarify, TorrentFreak explained the fair use rule.

“As a general rule, the smaller the part someone copies, the more likely it is that the use will be considered fair. Almost a third could be considered a lot but may also be needed if there’s a lot of criticism to squeeze in.”

The U.S. Copyrights Office gives content creators some advice.

There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances.

Bearing believes that his video won’t harm Drinkwater nor TED’s video market, and hopes the video is back up soon. After the DMCA takedown notice, he posted another video, TED – Ideas Worth Silencing. The description reads,

All about TED trying to silence an independent content creator for SPREADING IDEAS and STARTING A CONVERSATION.”

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/fig3g4MCN6c?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Bearing accusation, however, may be greatly exaggerated. TED’s content policy is as follows.

At TED, our goal is to spread ideas. We encourage the TED community, non-profit organizations, bloggers, news media and the like to share TED Talks through social media and to embed individual talks in contextually relevant ways on non-commercial websites using embed code on TED.com. Non-commercial usage of TED Talks should follow the terms of our specific Creative Commons license Attribution – NonCommercial – NonDerivative (BY-NC-ND).

TED spoke with TorrentFreak, and explained,

Regardless of content, if a Youtube video fails to follow these guidelines we request that it be removed.”

Furthermore, Bearing probably forgot to follow the CC license attribution rules, prompting the DMCA takedown notice. It’s unclear if Bearing will continue to pursue the case, however. Bearing told TF,

Imagine being the independent content creator that TED tried to sue for spreading ideas and starting a conversation. [EXPLETIVE] LOL.

5 Responses

  1. Dave

    What’s the relevance of TED’s Creative Commons license?

    If Bearing’s unauthorized use of TED’S content is protected by fair use, of course he would also not be obligated to follow their license terms.

    It’d be interesting to see this case litigated. Maybe Bearing could crowd-fund a legal case, like ‘the Bible Reloaded’ did.

  2. DudeNumberThreeFour

    You cannot redefine what a DMCA means and how it is used because some one ‘violates your usage guidelines’. Those guidelines are not legally enforceable outside the codified laws surrounding the digital millennium copyright act. This abuse is actionable and may entitle him to seek recompense to recover damages. Good luck ted. Not a smart move for people claiming the high road, for the purpose of informing and educating their viewers.

  3. Andrew

    Well done for utterly misunderstanding Fair Use.

    TED say that use of CC means that this video contrivines their terms but I refer you to the following from the CC website.


    Do Creative Commons licenses affect exceptions and limitations to copyright, such as fair dealing and fair use?

    No. By design, CC licenses do not reduce, limit, or restrict any rights under exceptions and limitations to copyright, such as fair use or fair dealing. If your use of CC-licensed material would otherwise be allowed because of an applicable exception or limitation, you do not need to rely on the CC license or comply with its terms and conditions. This is a fundamental principle of CC licensing.

    So it would seem to me that you reached out to TED, got their stick response and left it at that. I thought news was reported by journalists and that they did actual research? It took me about 30 seconds to find this contradiction, how comes you didn’t?

  4. Dave

    His use of short segments of video for review and criticism are clearly covered by Fair Use, regardless of what TED Talks assert with their stock response about CC.

    Ted Talks have drifted far from their origin, and become ideological sermons. This is thanks to the privilege feminists now have to say anything they wish, on any platform, regardless of truth, because everyone in tech and the media fears being labeled a sexist, misogynistic, anti-feminist, probable rapist, or Nazi. And now TED Talks deals with criticism with the same modus operandi of any SJW – silence them by any means.

    For shame Ted Talks.