Taking Bearing’s YouTube Channel down Is a Missed Opportunity for Cartoon Network and Fresh TV

A couple of days ago, popular YouTuber Bearing received three copyright strikes in rapid succession. As a result, his YouTube channel was taken down. With Bearing being a relatively well-known figure in online free-speech circles, initial discussion concerning the removal of his channel ran rampant speculation that he was being silenced for political reasons.

Turns out, the truth is much more predictable than that.

According to a comment left by the Amazing Atheist, Tom McGillis and Jennifer Pertsch production company Fresh TV Inc. is responsible for instigating the strikes. These strikes were likely issued because Bearing’s YouTube identity is loosely modeled on and uses avatars depicting the bear, a character from an animated series called Total Drama. Fresh TV owns the rights to the series and presumably all associated characters.

Despite the obvious backlash this has caused and the damage it’s doing to the Fresh TV’s Total Drama brand, there is a bigger issue here. The trigger-happy approach to the practice of using the DMCA to control who can showcase a brand is diminishing the reach and capability of marketers for no good reason.

Fresh TV lost money when they should have been building new roads enabling them to make it. What Fresh TV should have done — what I would have done — was reached out to Bearing and made him apart of the company’s marketing strategy. They could have advertised through him by asking him to do a short sales pitch at the end of his videos for the various Total Drama DVDs that are still being sold, or perhaps including a link to the same and a short “thank you” blurb in each of his videos’ descriptions. On top of it, such a contract would have safeguarded Fresh TV’s legal interests in its intellectual property.

All of this for the low, low price of letting Bearing use pictures of an animated bear. But instead, Fresh TV basically paid a paralegal to create a small PR nightmare for them. That’s why I think taking Bearing’s YouTube channel down is a missed opportunity for Cartoon Network and Fresh TV.

Now, the argument could be made that Bearing’s audience isn’t representative of Fresh TV’s market as far as its Total Drama or other brands are concerned. Without access to Bearing’s analytics, I can’t answer that for certain. Yet, when a marketing opportunity literally costs you the price of a notarization fee, protects your company’s IP, and avoids bad PR… why not take it?

If you ask me, McGillis and Pertsch would do well to take some cues from [adult swim], a company that really seems to understand marketing outreach in a world in which the internet is not some mysterious new-fangled thing.