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YouTube Restores Bad Lip Reading ‘Star Wars’ Parody Video, After Pulling It Over Bogus Copyright Claim

UPDATED, 11:35 a.m. ET: YouTube restored Bad Lip Reading’s viral parody of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Friday morning — more than 15 hours after pulling the video down because of an apparently fake copyright-takedown claim.

The video, a six-minute spoof of Disney/Lucasfilm’s “Force Awakens” blockbuster, features Mark Hamill doing a spot-on voiceover impression of co-star Harrison Ford.

Bad Lip Reading uploaded the video Thursday, topping 1 million views before YouTube removed it sometime before 7 p.m. ET. YouTube cited a copyright claim by New York-based Dramatists Play Service, which publishes and licenses plays by new and established playwrights — but on its Twitter account, DPS said that the claim was “erroneous” and that it didn’t know how the takedown claim was submitted in its name. The “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” video had more than 1.37 million views as of Friday at 11:35 a.m. ET.

Earlier: In an email to Variety Thursday, the creator of Bad Lip Reading (who prefers to remain anonymous) said his team was working to restore the video. “The people who made the claim (Dramatists Play Service) have zero grounds and one can’t help but assume it was done maliciously,” he wrote.

Dramatists Play Service later said on its Twitter account that the takedown notice was made in error and that the group has no copyright claims to the Bad Lip Reading video.

“We are aware of an erroneous claim made by our org to YouTube regarding the video’s copyright and are looking into how this occurred,” Dramatists Play Service said in a tweet Thursday night.

The company added, “We have no claim on any works in the video and will be working with YouTube to get the video reinstated ASAP.”

YouTube’s copyright-takedown notice on “‘The Force Awakens: A Bad Lip Reading’ (Featuring Mark Hamill as Han Solo)” earlier Friday. VIA YOUTUBE

YouTube has taken some steps to combat bogus copyright claims — but only for those flagged in its Content ID system. Last year the video giant implemented a policy under which videos subject to disputed copyright claims are allowed to remain online and generate ad revenue while the disputes were being evaluated. However, that applies only to Content ID, not to individual copyright takedown notices submitted by third parties (as in the Bad Lip Reading situation).

Bad Lip Reading is affiliated with Disney’s Maker Studios. It has teamed with Disney on previous projects, including a “High School Musical” parody in partnership with Disney XD.

The YouTube channel, which launched in 2011, started out with music parody videos and has expanded into satire of entertainment, sports (specifically NFL players) and politics. During the 2016 election, Bad Lip Reading released popular videos featuring Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz. To date, the channel has garnered more than 800 million video views.

Bad Lip Reading is repped by 3 Arts Entertainment. The channel’s creator is reportedly in the music production business.

Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify that YouTube’s policy change in 2016 to allow videos subject to disputed copy claims to remain online pending resolution applies only to its Content ID system.

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