The video in question is “A Trumpwork Orange,” which was posted to YouTube a month ago. The creator, Hugh Atkin, has several Trump parodies on his channel, as well satirical videos involving Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. Three weeks ago, Atkin, who lives in Australia, received a notification that the video had a copyright strike against it.
However, parody is supposed to be fair use on YouTube.
But now Serendip LLC, a U.S. company that represents A Clockwork Orange‘s composer, Wendy Carlos, has filed a lawsuit against Atkin for unlawful use of the music, claiming “derivative use” of the track, which is itself a cover of the “William Tell Overture.” The lawsuit claims Atkin needed two licenses to legally use the music: one for the arrangement and one for the sound recording. The lawsuit was filed after Atkin made a Digital Millennium Copyright Act counter-notification, and he didn’t know he’d been sued until TorrentFreak contacted him.
Atkin told TorrentFreak back in October that the “claim doesn’t actually specify what copyrighted work is alleged to be infringed by my video.” Serendip says Atkin can’t claim parody because he didn’t comment on the actual song.
A YouTuber named Lewis Bond faced a similar lawsuit from Serendip earlier this year, after using Carlos’s music in a Stanley Kubrick video.
We’ve reached out to Atkin for comment.
Update 6:13pm CT, Nov. 17: Atkin responded via email to clarify the status of the lawsuit:
“As far as I am aware, the Complaint was filed last Friday night. I only found out about it because a journalist forwarded it to me. It has not been served on me. The Plaintiff, Serendip LLC, has taken no steps that I am aware of to bring the Complaint to my attention, and the lawyer for Serendip, Annemarie Franklin, has not responded to emails and a letter I have sent to her. From information available on PACER, it appears that a summons addressed to me has recently been issued.”
He claims that on Nov. 16, YouTube sent him another email “stating that they had received the Complaint and that they could not honour my counter-notification.” YouTube also disabled access to the video a second time.
Coincidentally, Trump tweeted one of his satirical videos in December.