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Record labels flag Elliot Rodger’s YouTube videos for copyright violations

The alleged mass murderer was a Phil Collins fan.


Miles Klee

Internet Culture

Posted on May 26, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 6:12 am CDT

Before he uploaded his final, chilling public statements to YouTube, alleged Isla Vista mass murderer Elliot Rodger had a pretty innocuous channel—just not according to record companies.

Rodger, you see, was in the habit of filming some of the more scenic drives he took in his beloved BMW, often with the accompaniment of 1980s pop tunes. He seemed particularly fond of romantic songs that touched upon his loneliness and sexual frustration, including Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love,” Phil Collins’s “You Can’t Hurry Love,” Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know,” and, in a bitter irony, “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves.

This wasn’t a problem when nobody was watching Rodger’s videos. But now that they’re racking up thousands of hits in the wake of his apparent misogyny-fueled massacre, the lawyers have come a-knocking. One upload has already been stripped of its sound under a Digital Millenium Copyright Act claim. “This video previously contained a copyrighted audio track,” YouTube’s boilerplate notice reads. “Due to a claim by a copyright holder, the audio track has been muted.”

This being YouTube, the comments quickly took a turn for the bizarrely tasteless. “OMG…the dude is dead!…how about cutting him a little slack you copyright greed driven cunts,” wrote one livid viewer. “Youtube’s copyright policy is what really caused this kid to snap and kill,” said a second, with a third malcontent agreeing that “fucking copyright is worse than this kid.”

Meanwhile, others debated what song Rodger may have been listening to in the clip, with Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” and the theme from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood all suggested at some point. A few theorized that Rodger identified with Patrick Bateman, the serial killer from the novel and film American Psycho, who likewise locates profound pathos in the cheesiest and most superficial mid-80s hits.

Regardless, it shouldn’t be long before more artists and labels move to sever any connection between their brands and Rodger’s appalling acts of alleged violence. If you want a glimpse into the pop-cultural mindset of an apparently committed young killer, you’ll have to click his videos through soon.

Screenshot via Elliot Rodger/YouTube

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*First Published: May 26, 2014, 5:51 pm CDT