To Kill a Meme: Hitler Downfall Videos Get Takedown


It doesn’t seem easy, but April 2010 might mark the first time someone succeeds in killing a meme. According to the Open Video Alliance, a recent surge of copyright claims has taken offline a majority of the Hitler parodies on YouTube (s GOOG) using footage from the 2004 film Downfall.

As an example of the meme, and to imagine what it must have looked like in the offices of Constantin Films when they discovered it, we turn to Hitler Is Informed About the Hitler Downfall Parodies (which is still online as of writing).

This decision is made all the more ironic by the fact that the director of Downfall really likes this meme — in January, he told New York Magazine’s Vulture blog that “you couldn’t get a better compliment as a director.”

But checking on some of director Oliver Hirschbiegel’s favorites, only one remains online — Hitler Can’t Get Billy Elliot Tickets.

Of course, it’s Constantin Film, not Hirschbiegel, who owns the copyright. But this represents a big blow against mash-up culture, and an awfully short-sighted move on the part of the copyright holder. Sure, the scene’s being used for parody, but it’s kept a great film alive in the public sphere years beyond any foreign film in recent memory.

So I ask this: When do I get to see Hitler getting upset over the Hitler Downfall meme getting taken down? Or, more importantly, where?

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