This week we released a short creative film which explores the relationship between Shell and LEGO, the world's most popular toy company. We're calling on LEGO to ditch its co-branding deal with Shell, a company that wants to drill in the Arctic and lock us into fossil fuels for decades to come. If you haven't seen it, you can check it out here - assuming it hasn't been removed by the time this blog is posted.
Between Tuesday and Thursday this week over three million people watched the film, commented on it, and learned about the dark side of LEGO's partnership. But in the early hours of Friday morning, YouTube removed the video 'due to a copyright complaint from Warner Bros'.
Our legal team were bullish. They said that this is an issue in the public interest, which means people should be allowed to see it. Our video is a piece of satire that should be protected by free speech. YouTube's guidelines say that it will remove any video that receives a formal complaint from a corporation, even if that claim is weak as hell. Like this one.
We immediately reposted our film on Vimeo, where we hoped the site's owners might be a little protective of free speech. It started to amass tons more views, and everyone was happy (ish).
Then, Warner Bros suddenly withdrew its complaint and allowed YouTube to put the film back up. It was too late. We'd already seen a ton of blogs like this one on Torrentfreak explaining how Lord Business does not control the internet, and the tactic had 'backfired'.
And then, earlier this morning, Vimeo also pulled the film, citing - guess what! - a copyright complaint from Warner Bros. If this is a game of 'copyright whack-a-mole', it isn't working. The film is all over the internet and picking up more views by the second.
We can't say for sure what's going on between Warner Bros, LEGO, Shell and YouTube here. But what we can say is that these copyright claims just doesn't stand up to scrutiny, and yet they're being used to try to silence a video that is gaining real momentum online.
We think people have the right to know about a partnership that Wired have described as 'ill judged'. Yet these corporate titans are doing everything they can to ensure that it's hard to find this film online, and when you do, the link might be dead. Or it might not.
What do you think? Is this an attempt to silence dissent, or an example of bureaucratic ineptitude at some of the world's most powerful companies? Let us know in the comments. Oh - and please share the video - wherever it might be on the internet...
James Turner is the head of communications for Greenpeace International's Arctic campaign.