TED: Sliencing The Discourse

This Oct. 21, 2015 photo shows signage with a logo at the YouTube Space LA offices in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Ted is an organization that is dedicated to spreading ideas and sparking conversations. At least this is what they claim on their website TED.com but recently they have begun to silence criticism of their speakers on YouTube. Bearing an Australian YouTube skeptic and political commentator received a DMCA notice after using some of their footage in one of his videos Everyone should pretend fat people aren’t fat because feelings.


Bearing created a response video to ‘fat acceptance’ activist Kelly Jean Drinkwater and used only 3: 54 seconds of footage from Ted which constituted a fair use of the copyrighted material. An organization as well known and resourced as TED would have known that Bearing’s use of the material was fair use under the current copyright laws. The question we must ask is why an organization like TED whose mission is to ‘spread ideas’ and ‘start conversation’ would send a DMCA notice to Bearing to remove his video when they know it is protected under fair use. Bearing issued them with a DMCA counter notice at which point was forced to wait 14 days while he waited for TED to commence legal proceedings.

Under YouTube’s Fair use guidelines list four factors:
I. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes is transformative. That is the whether the use of the content adds new meaning to the original or is merely copied.
II. Is the nature of the work non-fiction or fiction. Factual or non-fiction works are generally considered to be fair use while fictional works are not.
III. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. Works that are copied in substantial amount or in their entirety.
IV. The potential use of the material does not harm the market or value of the copy written work.
Now lets further examine the issue using these for criteria.


Bearing is a YouTuber that produces political commentary with an air of comedy on YouTube. He used the video footage from the Tedtalk to educate people and provide commentary to create a discourse that both engages with Ted’s video and spreads ideas. The nature of the work was non-fiction and the footage he used was less than half Ted’s video. Since Tedtalks are geared at a professional audience and Bearing Video’s are geared the skeptic community it stands to reason that Bearing is not guilty of endangering Ted’s market.

Therefore, after reviewing the videos, and YouTube’s fair use policy it is clear that Bearing did not infringe on Ted’s copyright of the video. Ted’s legal department would have already known this before issuing the DMAC on the video. It would appear that the only reason Ted issued a DMCA to Bearing is to scare him into removing his content. This is a clear violation of Ted’s mission to spread ideas and spark conversations. I guess Ted actually meant that they want to spread their ideas, and have conservations as long as everyone agrees with them.

In the writer’s opinion, those types of conversations are not worth having. In order for people to learn and grow there must be room for criticism. It is apparent that Ted are using scare tactics in order to silence content creators with dissenting opinions- casting serious doubt over any claim that that organization stands for free speech.



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