Content Creators Coalition copies "Mac vs PC", stealing ideas but not music is apparently OK

The Content Creators Coalition have come out with two ads to try and rustle up some sympathy for creators in the day and age of free digital stuff™ and "just sell t-shirts" mantra.

The Content Creators Coalition have come out with two ads to try and rustle up some sympathy for creators in the day and age of free digital stuff™ and "just sell t-shirts" mantra.

Full and complete disclosure, as readers of Adland will know I've long been warning about the future when we rob people of their intellectual property, my opinion is that the remix generation is robbing themselves of profitable creative careers, and I have attended some of the very first meetings with the Content Creators Coalition when old rockers were sitting in a semi-circle, discussing the dying business of creating content.

So, it was with great expectations I watched these first commercials from the CCC. I was, naturally, expecting something very creative which would suit a group that is literally made up of creatives. Granted, they're mainly musicians. I guess that's why this is as disappointing as a milk bowl of Weetabix replaced with a brick is.  Here we have "Mac vs PC", except it's a musician teaching us streaming vs Youtube. P.S. they're both bad, but you knew that already.

This is where I start to have issues. Not only are we copying a campaign that was launched ten years ago, we're educating the audience on streaming income. Is that really what needs to be done here? If that's what we need to tell people, is a commercial really the way to do it? The strategy is way off here. Whoever conceived of and created this is clearly not a communications creative because we are communicating the wrong thing, in the wrong media. Like a bad corporate training film, you'll only watch this to the end if you have to and if there's a promise of free dry danishes at the end. 

The other ad in the campaign is "Takedown shakedown." It shows the difficulty a small time creator has with getting their content off world-reaching websites like YouTube. It does become a game of whack-a-mole, where you spend more time removing your content from unauthorized uploads than you do creating content. We've said for years that this places the burden on the wrong party, only the copyright holder can ask for the content to be removed when it should be the uploading party that proves the content is theirs or they have the right to use it. So while the CCC is yelling for #updatetheDMCA, they have missed the opportunity to speak with the new content creators who are hampered by the same DMCA. You see, when YouTube bloomed, so did "Remix Culture" where creators could add a song and images and whatnot together, to create a new thing. This spawned a new genre of news commentators and reviewers who would play games, show footage, snark about the world in general and turn that into a show. These people are now getting their YouTube channels shut down by the hamfisted use of the DMCA - which should allow for fair use and commentary. So while musicians can't get 27,000 uploaded copies of their song off YouTube without clicking 27000 times on things they actively seek out or pay for the service to have it removed, people who have made their livelihoods off YouTube itself have suddenly found that this can be shut off by three DMCA strikes against them, too. What a missed opportunity to join forces! You guys are on the same side, and this is exactly how you will make enemies of each other. The big guys like Google, who owns YouTube, will be quite happy to see you ignore each other's plight as you fight to the death in the colosseum. God forbid, you work together to actually make the big tech guys who are walking away with 90% of the money off your creative works kneel, and pay you your fair share.

Now, what really rubs me the wrong way about this campaign is that they used an existing concept to explain their issues. The Mac Vs PC idea may have been "just an idea," and as all commercial creatives know, we can come up with similar or have them copied every day. That's why Badland exists, which is why this site exists. As a young creative, it bothered me to no end to see ideas being re-done, stolen, and copied - all the while fresh new concepts were incredibly hard sold.

As a commercial creative, I also soon learned that ideas cannot be copyrighted - one day, you show your portfolio to your tutor and six months later he wins an award for a campaign based on that concept while you're still on unpaid placement somewhere.

Sucks for you, but we've all been there at some point. As idea creators, we are the only people whose craft is not protected by law. Perhaps that's why it irks me twice more to see the bits that are, are protected being eroded.

The executions, the illustrations, the songs, the words, the shape of a chair, the bits of code, all of these things used to be owned by the creator. Everything that is the expression of the idea, that we all once owned, is now being given away for free. Trust me, you do want your copyright. You want your patent. You want to watch your contracts and see if you give all of that away. If you write a novel, a song, take a photo, create an illustration, a short film, or a smart-ass YouTube news commentary video, you own it now, and you should get paid for it.

Nobody even blinks when Paris Hilton inherits her grandfather's hotel chain, but everyone scoffs at J. D. Salinger's widow for needing some help with her medical expenses.



So that musicians understand, this commercial is the equivalent of a sound-alike. It's totally legal, but you're assholes for doing it.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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kidsleepy's picture

I guess the CCC couldn't invest in proper sound mixing either. Weird since mixing is at least related to music.

Like you said, we already know musicians are getting screwed because they have been yelling about it for at least five years now. This has gone way past music now when even native YouTube stars can't make a living on the platform. The CCC's myopia is one big missed opportunity to partner with the new generation of streamers stars who were weaned on social media.

It begs the question why did they waste time (and maybe even money) creating overly long films that point out the obvious and the offer up a hashtag as a call to action?

Lack of strategy and idea seem to be the key missing factors. First of all, who is the audience for this? The hashtag would suggest listeners/supporters of the arts but the tone and scope is so educational it seems like a primer for new content creators. (Spoiler alert, a primer isn't needed, everyone is aware Google screws content creators. Like literally, everyone.) If they wanted to reach the listener, they should have focused on emotional persuasion to give them a reason to care.

A better campaign would have had a strategy first and an idea which led to a unique execution, not a rip off of a decade-long campaign (for a technology company no less), and a meaningful call to action beyond a hashtag would have worked eons better.

There's always a chance these weren't created in-house but through borrow favors from friends in the industry. If that's the case it explains why there are no credits listed. But if these were done in-house so to speak, well, all I can say is The Content Creators Coalition should learn to about another word that starts with C: Collaboration.

Dabitch's picture

Dang, I thought you were going for another word that starts with a C. Creativity.

kidsleepy's picture

Update According to The New York Post YouTube took down the parody videos and then reposted after a backlash.

The campaign’s lead spot, “Pennies vs. Dollars,” was uploaded to YouTube on Oct. 25 around 11:30 a.m. — and was pulled from the video-sharing site less than 48 hours later, the group, known as
c3, told The Post. YouTube said it pulled the video “due to violation of terms & conditions.” The artist-led coalition, whose members include David Byrne, Roseanne Cash and T Bone Burnett, fired back at the Google unit within an hour.

“After two days of widespread press coverage of our artist-driven campaign to pressure Google into treating artists more fairly,” c3 complained, “you suspended and are now censoring our account.”

This so-called censorship lasted all of three hours, by the way. Weird. if I go to YouTube and search something like, oh, I dunno, YouTube Sucks I get nearly 7.4 million search results, and not just from randos but from actual influencers like Casey Neistat, whose video entitled "WTF YouTube? taking away monetization??? has more than 3.6 million views since it aired in September of last year. The YouTube content creators even have a catchy name for YouTube's behavior of demonetizing videos whose content they don't agree with: Adpocalypse.

Some of these videos have more than a million views. And yet, YouTube hasn't seen fit to delete any of them even despite the mountains of press the demonetization issue has received this year. One would think an influencer like the still popular PewDiePie has more than 57 million subscribers should be a bigger threat than the C3 who have 78 subscribers.

If it's any consolation, the ads are back up and maybe they'll get more than thirty thousand views. Who knows? Maybe the fact MIlo Yiannopoulos has written about it will help.

AnonymousCoward's picture

There's a special kind of irony when they don't want you to copy their music, and they explain is by copying an idea.

AnonymousCoward's picture

Sheesh, telling people not to copy things, and doing so by copying things.