He-Man is the cornerstone of many boy’s childhoods, and it is his unique mix of masculinity and homoeroticism that makes this video work so well. The video in question, clips of He-Man, synced up perfectly with a dance remix of 4 Non Blonde’s hit “What’s Up”, is one of the most popular videos on the internet. Many versions as well as remixes appear on YouTube, the most popular being simply titled “HEYYEYAAEYAAAEYAEYAA” with 23 million views. After doing some digging, I found that the original was actually posted via Vimeo to the website Slackcircus with the title “Fabulous Secret Powers”, featuring an intro and outro most YouTube videos cut out.
While the original video itself doesn’t give us too many clues regarding its fair use status, but one of the more popular youtube versions includes this in its description:
“Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.” -Aufderheide and Jaszi (24)
This addresses the first issue of fair use according to Aufderheide and Jaszi: “Was the use of copyrighted material for a different purpose, rather than just reuse for the original purpose and for the same audience?” In this case, it is not, as it is made for non profit reasons. An interesting note about Fabulous Secret Powers: the song used is not the original 4 Non Blondes song or even just a remix, but a full on cover. Normally this would be a big issue; cover songs require the cover artist to pay the original artist royalties, but I doubt that anyone would listen to this song as an alternative to the original, if anything, it would draw attention to a hit song that has since been mostly forgotten (I personally bought the 4 Non Blondes song after being reminded of it by this video). While the music could potentially be a fair use issue, in this case the bigger issue is the video. While they are somewhat altered, this video uses long clips of the show He-Man: Masters of the Universe. The use of the show would result in a “no” to the second two questions of “Was the amount of material taken appropriate to the purpose of the use?” and “Was it reasonable within the field or discipline it was made in?” The rampant use of copyrighted clips would almost undoubtably result in this clip being ruled outside of fair use.
Fabulous Secret Powers also illustrates an interesting factor of Fair Use in the internet age: even if the bigger videos were taken down, this remix is so popular that it would just keep popping up. Like a Hydra, no matter how many heads are cut off, two more will just grow back in its place, and Fabulous Secret Powers will live on.
Aufderheide, Patricia, and Peter Jaszi. Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2011. Print.
“Fabulous Secret Powers”.Slackcircus.com,2005,Web.<http://www.slackcircus.com/all-projects/2010/1/6/fabulous-secret-powers.html>
“What’s Up (Hey, What’s Going On) [Best Version (mp3)] He-man AMV LMAO!!! (Mp3 link)!”By YetiFace55. Youtube, 08 Mar 2011. Web. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itvJybdcYbI>