"Sintel" © Blender Foundation "Sintel" © Blender Foundation

Sony Demands Removal of Open-Source Indie Short ‘Sintel’ From YouTube [Updated]

“Sintel” © Blender Foundation

Sony Pictures has demanded the removal of the CGI short film Sintel from YouTube due to a claim of copyright infringement. One small problem: they don’t actually own anything in the film.

Sintel, a film by Colin Levy which has been featured before on Cartoon Brew, was created by the Blender Foundation, the non-profit organization which promotes the free, open source 3D software Blender. The crowdfunded short was made using entirely original materials, and was licensed as Creative Commons Attribution 3.0, which means that anyone can freely share the movie.

The removal of the film is most likely the result of a faulty DMCA take-down request, but it speaks to a bigger and more troubling issue: corporations today have unprecedented control to wipe independent creators off the Internet. Years of your hard work can go down the drain due to the actions of a single nitwit who works at a powerful company.

This is the scary reality of the 21st century where everyone is guilty until proven innocent. Not only is the majority of entertainment controlled by a handful of media conglomerates, but even the content they don’t produce or own is subject to their approval. Corporations today can scrub anything from the Internet on a whim without recourse to the creator, and they aren’t held accountable for their actions. Both Sony Pictures and Google’s YouTube should be ashamed for their flagrant abuse of the law.

UPDATE #2 [Monday, 3:15pm ET]: YouTube has restored the official version of Sintel on the Blender Foundation’s YouTube page, effectively confirming that Sony’s claim was without merit. So, let’s recap:

No explanation to the content owners about why their film was removed.
No apologies to the filmmakers.
No compensation to the filmmakers for lost revenue.
No legal repercussions for either Google or Sony.

Here’s the film—for now:

UPDATE #1: On Twitter, @MediaGoblin points out that this is not the first time YouTube has inappropriately removed a Sintel-related video from its site.