Dear Warner: Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot – Free Bugs (Again!)!

John Kricfalusi, creator of the wonderful Ren & Stimpy series and an all around worthwhile fellow to know (and new FM author) just pinged me with the news that YouTube is disallowing his linking of old Bugs cartoons on his site. Why? Because Warner Brothers, who now owns the…


John Kricfalusi, creator of the wonderful Ren & Stimpy series and an all around worthwhile fellow to know (and new FM author) just pinged me with the news that YouTube is disallowing his linking of old Bugs cartoons on his site. Why? Because Warner Brothers, who now owns the copyrights, has no idea how powerful a marketing tool John’s blog can be, that’s why. All they want to do is prevent folks who might buy DVDs, merchandise, and view ads next to webisodes of Ren & Stimpy and Bugs from, well, buying DVDs, merchandise, and looking at webisodes of Ren & Stimpy and Bugs. Hey Warner, aren’t you paying any attention to what is happening out here in the real world? You don’t want to upset the creator of Ren & Stimpy, and force YouTube, which is providing a great service, to do the dirty work! Instead, figure out a way to work with the man! He’ll help you sell far more stuff. As he pointed out to me:

“Classic cartoons are my biggest influence. These cartoons are rarely seen on TV anymore and they could be selling them all on home video. Normally, they would have to pay a lot of money to get so much notice that I give them for free…. Mostly I put up clips, not the whole cartoon. Aren’t there “fair use” laws?

Well, yes there are, but they are in full retreat (and that’s another story). But back to this one. John is a leader in the animation world, and his site is where tens of thousands of his rabid fans and influencers in the world of animation hang out. He’s one of the biggest promoters of classic cartoons in the world…Nearly every post gets scores of comments. It’s hardly the equivalent of some teenager ripping off music. John’s posts promote and publicize Warner Brothers cartoons, if anything. In fact, John tells me he’s filmed commentaries for Looney Tunes DVDs – they come to him to help promote the same stuff they are asking him to take down. One hand, meet the other….

If I were Warner, I’d be advertising merchandise and DVDs right alongside those YouTube videos on John’s site. Hell, John is getting something like 100K visits a month, and his traffic is growing rapidly.

Previously: Set Bugs Free!!!

20 thoughts on “Dear Warner: Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot – Free Bugs (Again!)!”

  1. John K. is a living legend in the animation world, and his new(ish) blog is remarkable for the amount of information and knowledge shared freely. He gives fans and fellow animators a look inside his crazy genius, and he openly discusses animation techniques, ideas for new shows, and just about everything else that crosses his mind. Warner Bros. should be paying him bucketloads of cash for free advertising – I’ve gone out and bought piles of DVDs based solely on his recommendations, and I read his blog religiously.

  2. He pinged you? Quit using that language and just say he emailed you dammit. Did he touch base with you? Is he thinking outside the box too?

  3. The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good.

    Greed is right.

    Greed works.

    Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

    Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind.

    And greed — you mark my words — will not only save Warner Brothers, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the MPAA.

  4. WB is most likely stopping those old cartoons from airing on YouTube for the same reason they don’t play on TV anymore. Despite the fond memories we have for them, the amazing animation and humour that those cartoons display, and the sheer tonnage of talent that the creators had, they’re still products of their day. They contain highly racist imagery and LOADS of violence. WB was probably the least offensive in its racial imagery, but the negative stereotypes were definitely there (think of any time we met a ‘native’ of any kind).

    As adults, we can filter out that stuff, even learn from its presence, but WB doesn’t want those cartoons actually playing for children because doing so would remind everyone of the offending content. They tried editing them down for television in the late 80s/early 90s, but there wasn’t much left once you they took out the violence.

    To preserve our innocent memories of Merry Melodies and Looney Toons, they can’t ever play them. Ironic, innit?

  5. Fortunately, the internet will treat WB as damage and route around it. Those clips are out there, people will find them, whether John K links to them or not.

    But you’re on the money; WB (all content owners) should be working with their fans and cheerleaders. People want this stuff, but WB seem to be going out of their way to withhold it. It makes no sense.

  6. Agreed, WB could be swimming in free advertising for DVDs with resolution and audio that trump the webclips they so vehemently oppose. I think their motivation for suppressing fair use citations like these is the fact that they don’t want certain items in their catalog to be seen anymore: WWII propaganda, derogatory race humor, patronization of women, all the content owners have skeletons in the cans that don’t boost their brands in today’s culture. And to me, this is the most horrific facet of current copyright law — the copyright holders have misbegotten corporate rights to suppress valuable artifacts of our history.

  7. If only they could do what I said to him one day and appriciate his work- maybe they’d be his “heroes” too.

  8. Take my word for it, nobody at Warners really gives a rat’s ass about these cartoons except as to how they can make them some money, and even then they haven’t got a clue.

  9. Take my word for it, nobody at Warners really gives a rat’s ass about these cartoons except as to how they can make them some money, and even then they haven’t got a clue.
    And you can quote me.

  10. I think, beyond the simplest junior legal squad knee jerk cease and desist of all content not coming directly from the WB that is probably happening, that, if they are giving it any thought, and are still agin it, WB might be concerned about their merchandising property. The Bugs that John is promoting is the NON standard proto Bugs (although there is some licensed clampettesque product out there). And perhaps more of a concern, is they think some kid will google for Bugs, and come to Johns site, and see George Liquors Titty Bingo. And they will have to explain themselves to some dumbshit parent that might complain.

    Although, I don’t think they are thinking things through that far actually.

  11. I agree, quit using “ping”.

    Also Warner Bros. can suck my left nut, If they want to do something smart how bout not selling off the rights to some of their oldest and shittiest toons to distributors that plaster bugs on the front of a DVD Set of Cartoons when you really get approx. 2 oddball bugs cartoons in the whole freaking dvd.


  12. hmmm, have a look at the cartoons….
    who will win? the rabbit or the hunter?
    maybe the hunter thought he won, but after the end warner will realize what they have lost.

    but maybe… if they stay cool and offer some carrots they may win at the end *but not without the rabbit!*

    thinktwice *for warners lawyers: maybe yaou should think some more times*

  13. It would be interesting to see some chart of the attempts made by the old legacy media companies, film, music, television, to control something they don’t understand.

    Inevitably first they choose the shortsighted, wrong direction technologically, and then fail to do anything but just defer the so-called problem an insignificant bit of time. Look at vhs, then DAT tape (can you even recall it was a huge argument about not being allowed to sell those machines in the U.S.? Because of the ability to perfectly copy music ..) then CDs, then DVDs, and so on through the internet, emailing (they wnated to charge for each email to make money from SPAM, rather than control that artifact of capitalism) and napster and so on through youtube. It was always without strategy or thought, just short term. The creative energy was always FIRST from the groups who had interest in different angles on the media properties, and the supposed synergy would have been to work with what the indicators were, and shape something new. NEVER, EVER happened, historically. NEVER will.

  14. Hey John IANAL but you’re a lawyer, so:
    how come this is not covered by fair use? It is an academic essay about animation and JohnK quotes cartoons without showing the whole cartoon.
    Is there a case for fair use here?
    If not why not?
    If so why not draw the line a fight it?
    best wishes,

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