How many times have you gone to a movie based on the trailer only to find that the movie’s trailer was misleading and didn’t tell the real story? I know I’ve sat in the theater excited to watch a film only to end up half way through it wondering what the heck the writers were thinking! If you’re like me, you might find yourself analyzing the movie’s messages and begin to wonder if the movie has a hidden agenda. Honest Trailer does this type of thinking for you. This example of Honest Trailer: The Little Mermaid already has over four million views and is currently trending on Google Trends this week in the YouTube category. It takes a seemingly innocent, animated movie and turns it into a different story spun from a darker, more cynical perspective. And although there may be some truth in there somewhere, it’s still a cartoon!
But what’s the real picture here (pun intended!)? Is Honest Trailer’s use of Disney’s copyrighted content in this manner legal? Or did Honest Trailer find a loophole? Movie critics, after all, have been around for a long time showing us snippets of movies here and there to spin their own reviews that ultimately give films a thumbs up or a thumbs down. All of this, however, is sanctioned by the studios who provide and allow critics to show the movie clips. But movie studios do not allow critics to alter or tamper with these clips, which appears to be the issue here. This brings into question copyright infringement laws in the case of Honest Trailer. Do they have the right to use this copyrighted content? Copyright infringement laws, after all, are put in place to protect owner’s content from being used without permission.
Some argue that the use of parody is protected under copyright law and therefore gives the green light to this type of entertainment. Is this the type of protection that Honest Trailer hides behind? Or is the fact that Honest Trailer is featured on an online media platform the reason they get away with this type of potential misuse of Disney’s content?