COPYRIGHT HOLD is LIFTED by CBS on fan video criticizing STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Last week, this was going to be a very different blog!  Last week I was going to report on how CBS was enforcing a copyright hold on a fan-made video that was critical of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.  The fan had tried to monetize the video on YouTube (showing ads), and because there were clips from Star Trek episodes (from multiple series) in the critique, it got automatically flagged for a copyright hold.

The fan, who goes by her YouTube account name PsychoSpider, challenged the copyright hold claiming an exemption for Fair Use.  Ah, fair use!  Ever since AXANAR fought back against CBS and Paramount when sued for copyright infringement, numerous fans (including yours truly) became “armchair experts” in the fair use defense.  In short, there are certain cases where it’s okay and even legal to use someone else’s intellectual property without first getting their permission.  And one of those cases is when the person is using copyrighted material for purposes of criticism, even when the criticism might generate revenue.

(Don’t just take my word for it!  Read about Fair Use on the website of the U.S. Copyright Office.)

One of the reasons that Fair Use exists for criticism is because it is generally assumed that a copyright holder would be unlikely to ever grant permission to someone to use their intellectual property only to complain about it.  So Fair Use was created to try to balance the opposing forces of copyright protections and freedom of speech.  It’s not always an open-and-shut case, but in general, critical speech is protected even when copyrighted intellectual property is used.  The problem is, you usually have pay a lawyer lots of money to get a court to agree with you.

That wasn’t an option for PsychoSpider.  Instead, she simply filed her hold challenge, claiming Fair Use, and waited.  It didn’t take long for CBS to respond with a big, fat “NO!”  She tried again, and again her challenge was rejected.  She would not be allowed to monetize her video on YouTube.

I was all ready to write a blog about this outrage.  I’d interviewed PyschoSpider, contacted CBS for an official comment (didn’t get one), and was nearly ready to hit “Publish.”  And then something totally unexpected happened…

About six weeks after having her second challenge rejected, PsychoSpider received an e-mail from YouTube.  CBS was no longer placing a copyright hold on her video!  It is now allowed to be posted with ads, meaning PsychoSpider can make a little bit of revenue (probably not too much, though) even though she is using clips from Star Trek episodes.

Yes, my friends, sometimes CBS does allow for Fair Use!  And credit where credit is due: rather than tearing into the studio with an acerbic blog editorial, I am enthusiastically praising their decision as being proper, reasonable, and if I may use the word, fair.  So believe it or not, I say

HOORAY FOR CBS!

(Never thought your see those words on this blog, did ya?)

Naturally, I am going to include the video in all of its Fair Use glory.  But I am also going to share most of the interview I did with PyschoSpider because it’s quite thoughtful and provides an interesting insight into why she fought so hard just to make a few dollars in online ad revenue.

First, though, here’s her very well-crafted video.  Even if you’re a fan of ST: Discovery and think it’s the best Star Trek ever, you can’t deny the quality of the editing and overall presentation of the commentary…

And now, let’s hear from PsychoSpider.  Remember that the majority of this interview was conducted before the video was cleared…

JONATHAN – What is your film/cinema background?  Are you a writer or filmmaker?  Did you go to film school?

PSCYHOSPIDER – I studied media arts and animation in college, and I watch a lot of shows and movies.  So between the two, I picked up basic rules and guidelines on how to make a competent story.  These instincts were screaming when I watched Discovery, so I suppose that side of myself couldn’t help but be critical about it.

JONATHAN – With all of the blogs, podcasts, posts, and videos out there that contain negative commentary about Star Trek: Discovery, what is unique about your specific point of view?

PSCYHOSPIDER – Well, I’d like to think that my criticism comes from a specific place.  I love Star Trek, I always have, but there’s another part of me that can’t ignore things like the language of cinema.  While a TV series or a movie can go about telling a story in any way possible, there are certain unspoken rules of how you present a character, unfold a story, or establish a threat.  My love of past Star Trek series also inspired a certain anger at how terribly these current tales are told…not because it was “different” but because the language of cinema was ignored, and all logic ceased.

JONATHAN – How long did it take you to make your video?

PSCYHOSPIDER – It took about 2 weeks.  It took time to find images, footage, and just the right music.  Editing is also very time consuming.

JONATHAN – Well, I think you did an excellent job.  So how long was the video posted before you were contacted about a copyright violation?  On what date were you contacted?

PSCYHOSPIDER – About a week, although it wasn’t a directed contact. It was more just noticing that YouTube had de-monitized my video.  I disputed it through Youtube on March 19th, the first of two disputes.  If I attempted it a third time, my video would surely be taken down, and I could receive a strike on my channel.  And knowing that YouTube never sides with creators, I left it alone.

JONATHAN -What did your communication with YouTube look like?  Did you ever speak with anyone at YouTube directly, or was it all done via e-mail/digital messaging?

PSCYHOSPIDER – At first, I was just a number in the automated YouTube system.  I tried to reach out to YouTube support, but they were unhelpful.  The only person I talked to at YouTube was through an email, who failed to understand my questions and was probably copy/pasting answers.

Believe me, I searched for some sort of call number, but it doesn’t exist.   I suppose a corporation like YouTube has no idea how to handle it.  YouTube is notorious for being creator-unfriendly…and squeezing out smaller YouTube channels by making monitizing them harder to start out with. Animation channels in particular are harder to turn into a financial success because of the YouTube algorithm system. These copyright disputes are common, and usually creators have no chance against a large company like CBS, even if it is fair use.

JONATHAN -Did you make any money on your video during that first week it was monetized?  And about how much do you get per viewing?  How much were you hoping to make?

PSCYHOSPIDER – As far as I can tell, no money was made, youtube was fairly quick in shutting that down.  I wasn’t hoping to make a whole lot, it was much more of a vent of frustration into a video of sarcasm, logic, and an endless amount of questions that should have been asked before the writers made Discovery.

JONATHAN -If you weren’t really planning/hoping to make much money from your video critique anyway, they why did you get so upset about YouTube forcing you to turn off the monetizing option for the video?  After all, they still let you keep the video up, even if you can’t profit from it.  Isn’t the message the most important thing?

PSCYHOSPIDER – I got mad because I felt that my video fell under “fair use,” which includes protection of videos made for comment and criticism. I wanted to make my stand because I believed that I was right in that sense.

After the first appeal failed, I tried reaching out to determine if there was a particular part of the video or image that was problematic to CBS.  I would have been willing to change it.  But as I’ve said, YouTube was unhelpful in that area, and no one on their side thought it was appropriate to inform me what CBS thought I did wrong.  It was like rubbing salt in a wound, like saying, “We are going to take what little money you got from this video, we’re NOT going to tell you why, and YOU can’t do anything because we’re CBS.”

Eventually I came to my conclusion to leave it un-monitized because I didn’t want a take-down of my video.  If the video was lost, it would defeat the purpose of everything I had in mind.  I tried to take a stand and I failed, but that’s okay.  Because me keeping the video up anyway is my middle finger to both CBS and YouTube help.

It’s now about principle and logic. By principle, I’ll keep it up to stick to my viewpoint and honor. And by logic, I know that keeping it up would be my own form of resistance to this show that boiled my blood.

I fought, but I did not lose my honor. Q’plah.


That was all a month ago.  I contacted CBS twice during that time to get a comment from them.  Neither time did I receive a response.  But a couple of days after sending out my second request to CBS, I received the following e-mail from PsychoSpider:

Good news, CBS released the copyright claim! I can now monetize my video! I know my interview was a while back, but I thought I’d let you know. I have no idea why they finally changed their minds, but I’m glad. All that was provided as an explanation is that they “reviewed it” and released the claim. Hope you’re doing well.

I have no idea whether my second e-mail to CBS triggered this review, but that really doesn’t matter.  CBS didn’t have to decide to release the hold at all.  As blogs go, I’m not exactly The Huffington Post or Time Magazine.  The important thing is that CBS made a decision that was kind and fair to a Star Trek fan…and that should be acknowledged.  PsychoSpider was very surprised (and happy, of course), as she didn’t expect a reversal of the decision to ever happen.

Since about six weeks had gone by since our interview, I decided to ask PychoSpider one final question…

JONATHAN -Did you hear about the recent shake-up with the showrunners of Discovery?  If not, here’s the article:

https://trekmovie.com/2018/06/14/star-trek-discovery-showrunners-berg-kurtzman-named-showrunner/

What are your thoughts about this shake-up?  Do you think bad leadership was the cause of the problems you perceived with the series?  And if so, do you think the shake-up could help improve the quality of the episodes?

PSCYHOSPIDER – I haven’t heard of the shakeup until now, no.  Bad leadership MIGHT have been the cause of my frustration with this new series, but I think there’s more to it.  There are still other writers, other leaders involved in making this, that had a big say in what this new Trek was going to be like.  A story in a television series is usually made by several people instead of one or two; the blame could spread to a dozen different people.

I’d like to hope it gets better after a leadership shakeup, I really do. I WANT this to be good, but after hearing rumors that they are ALREADY dragging out Spock for season 2, my hope is a bit muted.

JONATHAN – Well, I guess we’ll find out next year…

22 thoughts on “COPYRIGHT HOLD is LIFTED by CBS on fan video criticizing STAR TREK: DISCOVERY”

  1. Good for her!

    But, I’m tired of all the Discovery critics. I will not be giving her money by watching her video. I lost interest in what she had to say after her reply to you about why her video is difference in the sea of criticism.

    1. You don’t have to watch it. I watched it and thought it was the best and most intelligent summation of what is wrong with Discovery that I have seen yet (and I’ve seen a lot of these).

  2. Excellent! So proud Of PsychoSpider for finding the voice to express how so many Star Trek fans felt and could not express!

  3. You are a lacking a certain understanding of how YouTube works. Odds are a bot flagged her because of the Trek clips without a human being at CBS ever seeing the video. Then weeks and weeks later someone finally got around to viewing it and said “Well this is Fair Use,” and released the claim. You might want to do a little more research before taking up arms next time.

    1. Nope. I asked her about that. There was an appeal to CBS that came back, and it simply said “no.” And then there was a second appeal with the same result. I also discovered what the process looks like on the other side when Alec Peters received the Fair Use appeal from Shawn P. O’Halloran when Shawn posted the Axanar blooper footage without permission. So yes, YouTube does reach out when appeals are made.

      And as I reported, two appeals were denied. In the end, CBS simply changed their mind…and they are certainly to be commended for doing that!

  4. I think that the lawsuit is CBS’s and Paramount’s Vietnam, a battle that didn’t go the way they expected and left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. As a result, they seem more willing to let the fans be. Lamenting that they didn’t do this earlier is BEYOND pointless(Oh, I’m just terrible 🙂 ), but maybe there is a simpler explanation:

    Maybe the new bosses just needed to make that mistake to learn that it wasn’t necessary to make it. Sci fi fandom, especially DEVOTED sci fi fandom, can seem weird and uncomfortable to many business people. We can seem like a hard-to-satisfy group that will fly into apoplectic rage over details that they can’t easily fix with standard production resources, so they can sometimes be at a loss as to how seriously they should take what say. As a result, they may bite when all they need to do is bark, or even ignore us entirely and go chase a squirrel.

    Being a fanbase that is unlike any other has its advantage and a certain amount of cool points, but it also has the above-mentioned drawback. Bringing in more production staff that claim to be fans is a good start, but it is no guarantee of success because HOW CAN THE MORE SCI FI NAIVE SUITS TELL? I suspect this status of affairs will maintain for a while.

    I suppose my response is a case of mellowing with age(would that we could all be so reasonable about an entertainment property.

    That’s all I have to say because I’m off to sign the change.org petition(because OF COURSE there’s a petition) to encourage Amazon and Warner Brothers to make inroads on an HD release of Babylon 5. Here’s the link: https://www.change.org/p/warner-brothers-release-babylon-5-in-high-definition-using-master-negatives

    1. Man, Warner didn’t have any loyalty to B5 while it was still on the air. I doubt they’d throw any more money at it now. But ya never know. Good luck!

  5. Wow ! She sure doesn’t pull any punch.
    I admit I’m impressed, this is a compilation of just about all the things that got under my skin in STD, from the mildly annoying to the highly irritating .

    I thought her point about the lack of personality and depth of the supporting characters was very well presented and hard to refute.
    So was the criticism about how well established canon about the klingon culture was just swept away for the sake of…..what exactly ?? Yes I don’t know why either.
    There’s an often used cliche we hear from actors winning awards, when they go: ” It all starts with the words on a page”. Followed with them thanking the writer(s) . Yes STD S01 had a showrunner problem but much more than that, its the subpar writing that led the way into mediocrity, that gang wasn’t writing Star Trek , they’ve been writing Starship Troopers with phasers and Fruit Loops colored Klingons replacing the arachnids .
    I happen to like Starship Troopers ( I mean the book., and maybe about 20min of the 1st movie ..tops ) but I don’t want Vulcan raised humans in it .

  6. Dear PsychoSpider
    Will you marry me? (Rhetorical question, just trying to emphasize how much I love your opinions on DISCO’s writers and producers.)
    James.

    The entire DISCO story line feels forced..bad character development and less than bad writing.
    To borrow from another franchise..”You can’t just slap a US Air Force sticker on the side of a Death Glider and call it yours” or this case a Star Trek sticker.

  7. Bad habits still remain, strike first and think after…
    Again, CBS launched a procedure that would put the shame on them. Too late for withdrawal, they are already a shame. OK they prefer to stop the potential harm while they examine it closer, or for a counsel to tell them they might only get more negative opinion, but not a word of explanation is incorrect from both CBS and Youtube. They are glad to have clients, to respect them is a minimum. Again, this is bad business practice !!!
    OK, it finally ends well, but it remains that the mood is bad and CBS is not helping. To down criticism is a sovietic behavior as they perfectly know their show has some issues. Now it is time to work again and not to forget what the fans say is what they want, so here is the business.
    CBS still believe their business is to give fans what they want to give them. They simply forget that fans are fans because they enjoy a show. If they give the fans what pleases them, it will be OK, but as long as they ignore it and still try to sell shi…manure [is it ok for the blog rules ?], fans will criticize. And it is their role to comment on how they perceive what they were given to watch. If they are disappointed and try to explain it with images to be clear, it should be read, heard, understood, as a tool for better understanding what the target expects. That is a marketing job and it is really amazing how CBS lacks these fundamental basics.
    The review of the fans contents should not be given only to the IP guys, the marketing and creative teams should be involved too, they could certainly benefit from a better understanding of the audience to make the proper adjustments.

    1. There are a lot of voices screaming at CBS and the Discovery writers from all directions at the moment, Nicolas. It would be hard (and time-consuming) to listen to all those voices or–even if they only listen to a few–to know which few to listen to.

      That said, I think I’d listen to PsychoSpider. She rocks! 🙂

      1. Oh, sure there are a lot of complaints, and I surely do not recommend to listen/read them all. But when someone offers a detailed analysis, it might be of interest to take time to see how your work is received by your audience. The audience statistics are only that: raw numbers requiring an analysis to extract averages and trend. An illustrated review of what’s wrong is far more than a tendency but is a good representation of it. I shall say it is even a tool for improvement.

        As a matter of fact, CBS did take the time to hear this voice, but they didn’t listen…
        Or maybe they finally did and subsequently withdrew their action, who knows ? I guess they would never admit Psychospider is right 😉

  8. My hat is off to “Psychospider” for that beautiful analysis of the failings of ST:D. She highlighted Trek shows that I cared about and brought to the fore why I cared and loved them as much as I still do.

    Even beyond the 100% accurate analysis of why a show should make us care about characters, she echoed one of my favorite all time lists “How to be an Evil Overlord” in a couple of her comments including how real evil people deal with nuisances. Even the Pakleds were not as stupid as they seemed – the combination of apparent intellectual lack and emotional cunning was, above all, interesting.

    So I’d add to her rant that every writer should read the Evil Overlord list and pay attention to the advice. It’s harder to write something good but the fans will love you for it. It is true that the other Trek shows had stupid plot elements from time to time, but I could forgive them the occasional lapse. But after a while, I will walk away. Three examples from that list plus the link:

    One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

    My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.

    When my guards split up to search for intruders, they will always travel in groups of at least two. They will be trained so that if one of them disappears mysteriously while on patrol, the other will immediately initiate an alert and call for backup, instead of quizzically peering around a corner.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EvilOverlordList

    1. Man, I used to love that list! Back in the 90s, someone would forward it to my e-mail at least once every few months, each time thinking they were the only one to ever read it and pass it along.

      By 2002, while I still loved the list, I wasn’t loving the fact that so many people were still thinking that I’d never seen it! 🙂

      But yeah, I still love that list…and now I kinda miss getting it every other month. That said, please do NOT send it to me; I’ve seen it, and the urge to see it again is not quenched.

  9. You are making one fan the harbinger (is that right) if what is right and correct in Star Trek I think mainly because it fits into your opinion of the show. Her opinions are her own, however it’s nice that CBS is allowing her to make some money from her opinions b

    1. I think you meant “arbiter,” not harbinger, Edward.

      But no. I simply think PS makes some really excellent points that I agree with. Others might not. As we say on Earth, c’est la vie! 🙂

  10. I was looking at Iustitia’s scales you have on your first image and the letters on the scales themselves. Very appropriate. Sounds like PsychoSpider thought Disco was FU’d, too!! 🙂

  11. Minus the F-Bombs, I loved this video! It reaffirmed my decision to utterly pan this so-called “NewTrek” nonsense, and I am glad that I did! Some people suggested subscribing to that stupid channel, binge watch during the free trial, then cancel. Fat chance of THAT ever happening to begin with, but now that I’ve seen this well-done video… NEVER NEVER NEVER!! I loved the use of images/scenes from the other REAL TREK shows, and how they fit the overall narrative! For that, I definitely offer my kudos. 🙂

    Now, there are some stories circulating that TPTB are actually considering making a TNG sequel with Picard!? 😮 Some other Trek stories were also mentioned… could it be that SOMEONE there *IS* paying attention to WE THE FANS of Trek? 🙂 We can only hope!! 🙂

    1. Hollywood often offers up development deals like this when they sign big, long-term contracts with top talent. Whether we see all five Trek projects, just one, or none is very up in the air. Most times, these big announcements go almost nowhere. So I’m not counting my tribbles just yet! 🙂

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