The Michael Moore-produced documentary “Planet of the Humans” was pulled from YouTube overnight due to a “copyright claim by a third party” — prompting writer-director Jeff Gibbs to denounced the removal as a “blatant act of censorship.”
“It is a misuse of copyright law to shutdown a film that has opened a serious conversation about how parts of the environmental movement have gotten into bed with Wall Street and so-called ‘green capitalists,'” Gibbs said in a statement Monday. “There is absolutely no copyright violation in my film. This is just another attempt by the film’s opponents to subvert the right to free speech.”
The documentary, which has drawn criticism from environmental groups for its harsh assessment of the efficacy of solar and wind energy, has garnered 8.3 million views since its release on YouTube on April 21, according to the film’s rep, who added that the filmmakers have been in contact with the Google-owned video service over the issue.
The producers later announced that the film would stream for free on Vimeo.
“When we receive a valid legal notification regarding content that allegedly violates copyright, we are required by law to remove it. YouTube is not in a position to mediate copyright disputes – it is between the parties involved. If an uploader feels that their content is covered by a fair-use exception, they can file a counter notification,” a YouTube spokesperson said in response to TheWrap.
The spokesperson added that this specific takedown request appears to meet the DMCA’s requirements for removal, and questions of fair-use must be adjudicated in a court of law.
According to the film’s rep, the copyright claim stems from a four-second video clip of mining that Gibbs considered to be “fair use” and not requiring any special permission in a nonfiction documentary such as his.
In his statement, Gibbs noted that the film — which was meant to be available for free on YouTube through the end of June — has drawn criticism from establishment environmentalists. “Opponents of ‘Planet of the Humans,’ who do not like its critique of the failures of the environmental movement, have worked for weeks to have the film taken down and to block us from appearing on TV and on livestream. Their efforts to subvert free speech have failed, with nearly eight and a half million people already viewing the film on YouTube. These Trumpian tactics are shameful, and their aim to stifle free speech and prevent people from grappling with the uncomfortable truths exposed in this film is deeply disturbing.”
Gibbs noted that the free-expression group PEN America “came out strongly and denounced the initial attempt to censor this film. “We hope all champions of free expression condemn this act of censorship. We are working with YouTube to resolve this issue and have the film back up as soon as possible,” he added.