Obama ‘sings’ LMFAO’s ‘Sexy and I Know It’ is an example of a remix video that easily falls under fair use. I believe that by cleverly remixing archived speech video with a pop culture song, this video clearly has entirely different intent than the original materials it uses.
Although the direct rights of LMFAO’s song were not bought for this video, the video credits the song under the video. The author was also clever in putting the band’s name in the title of the video so that where the song is coming from is not even questionable. The author also remixed the song to some extent, in order to sync the beat of the song to Obama’s lip movements.
The video content is the most remixed part of the video and is also credited to the white house website under the video. I found this credit to be particularly interesting because videos of political nature, especially those released on the white house’s government website (whitehouse.gov) are already in the public domain. It would have been fair use for the creator of this video to pull the clips from whitehouse.gov without directly crediting the site because they are already a part of the public domain.
The one element of this video that takes away from its otherwise well defined claim of being fair use is that the author has intention to profit off the videos. Under and throughout the video the creator posts links to his “Baracks Dubs” merchandise. Because Obama is a political figure it does not break copyright to sell a shirt with his face printed on it. The merchandise though directly relates to the music used in the videos. For example, the creator of the video is selling T-Shirts where Obama has an Afro like one of the members of LMFAO and the text “Sorry for Party Baracking” appears under his image. The text and design of this shirt rely on content of LMFAO’s song as well as their general identity as a group.
The “Sexy and I Know it” dub is only one in a series the author has produced like it. Other musical artists the creator has used include Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and Rihanna. All of these artists are extremely high profile, and therefor are more likely to have their songs used by the general public. I mean by this that one Youtube video using these artists’ songs without license will not take away from the already extraordinary amount of money these artists have made from their songs. If anything, having “Sexy and I Know It” synched to President Obama would cause viewers of the video to appreciate the song more. Because this video has a completely new and different message than the works it’s drawing from, remixes the original works (both the song and the video content), and although profiting, does not effect the market value of LMFAO’s song, this video falls under fair use.
Aufderheide, Patricia and Peter Jaszi. Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011. Print.