Dear Jay Leno,
First off, my intention is not to fight you on this. You have more cars than I have dollars, and so I know I don’t stand a chance legally, and on top of that, I don’t really understand how legal stuff works. But the truth is you kind of fucked up my shit and I need to talk to you about it.
In 2007 my good friend Travis Irvine was running for mayor of his home town, Bexley, Ohio. He asked for help making him a funny campaign commercial. So together, me and my pal Travis composed, performed and recorded an original campaign jingle onto my four track (we did, not you). Then, I directed and shot a silly music video for that song featuring Travis strolling about his town, looking patriotic, friendly and mayoral. Remember that video?
I think you might, because in 2009 Travis called me about it. He was in a frenzy and needed to know if I’d seen your show that night, which of course I had not. You see, Travis had received a call from a high school friend who claimed to have seen Travis on The Jay Leno Show. So the next day, we both watched your show on the internet, and sure enough our video was in a piece at the end. I remember it was at the end because I had to watch the whole show to find it and boy that is a long show, it felt like I was watching forever. How long was your show, like three hours? During the bit you played five stupid local campaign commercials and one of those commercials was the video I was telling you about earlier. After you played our video on national television, you said something like, “I love that song!” as the audience cheered in approval. So thank you for that. It was nice of you.
Anyway, it was a good laugh for Travis and I, but we forgot all about it a few weeks later. End of story, right? Apparently not, Mr. Leno.
I’ll have you know that I was searching for our said video on YouTube, and it turns out that the video has been blocked. Blocked by you! Isn’t that fucked up?
Your company NBC just up and blocked our video and claimed that we are copyright infringers! But we are not! We made it! And this is the video that you said you loved! Now, if you try to watch our video (and again this is the video that had nothing to do with you until you used it in your show without asking) on YouTube it’s just a big black sign that basically says, “the makers of this video stole this video from NBC, so you can’t watch it!” Jay, what in the hell is going on here?
Look, maybe I’m overreacting, and I hope I am. I should let you know, that some of my friends have tried to talk me down and explain copyright laws and YouTube, but I just don’t care. It’s not even about that specific video being blocked, I mean, I’m in the process of uploading that shit on Funny or Die right now. It’s not about that. It’s about you, Jay Leno.
I think I know how this all went down. And in order to help me make my point to you, I’ve written a script, because I want to speak your language. Just imagine this is a sketch on your show. You will play the part of you. Have an intern read the other part:
The Story of Jay Fucking Over Brian and Travis
Written and copyrighted by Brian Kamerer (not Jay Leno or NBC)
INT. WRITERS ROOM
You (Jay Leno) walk into a room filled with writers.
Writers! Find me some funny video on the internets.
Ok, we found this funny music video/campaign commercial, should we take it and play it on your TV show?
Should I get in touch with the guys who made it on YouTube or something, and tell them we are going to play it?
No, of course not.
Really? It would be super easy, I could just click here and tell them when the video will air?
Don’t you dare contact those two boys. Why would two aspiring comedians who made a funny video be interested in their own network television debut? What are they going to do, tell their Moms and their friends that they are going to be on NBC’s The Jay Leno Show? Who cares? Fuck those guys.
The writer shrugs and does his cold dead job for Mr. Leno. Cut to three years later. You, Jay Leno, walk back into the writer’s room.
Hey remember those loser kids, we played their bit once, remember those guys? Let’s get em.
What? Who? Why?
Those guys, we took their video about three years ago and played it, I loved that song, remember?
Oh yeah, sure, I remember those guys. So, what is it you want to do to them?
I want to have the boys at NBC say that we own the video, so that if they try to watch their video on YouTube, they won’t be able to, and it will look like they stole the video, like Carlos Mencia!
Or we could just leave those two nice boys alone. After all, you loved that song, remember?
You’re fired! Secretary! Get me someone who has the balls to frame these two unknown assholes, so that eventually their work will be blocked on YouTube! And I need fifty more classic cars!
Jay, I don’t think you’re actually that bad of a guy. According to my friend, you might have been a slightly racist comedian back in the 80s, but I won’t hold it against you because it seems that all comedians were racist and homophobic in the 80s. Let’s just say that my friend is wrong and ignore all that and assume you’re the cool, laid-back, car-nut everyman that I want you to be. So put yourself in my shoes. Or put me in your shoes. Just for a moment, imagine that I did this to you.
Imagine that I am some sort of sexy-Girl-with-the-Dragon-Tattoo-hacker. Now imagine that I’m watching NBC and I use crazy awesome recording gear to make a pirate recording of your opening monologue. Then imagine I take ABC hostage Die-Hard-style and broadcast your monologue on ABC to trillions of people and I manage to steal all of the advertising money, because I’m just that slick. Also, imagine that after all that nonsense, I use my hacker powers to somehow manipulate the internet so that every time people search you on YouTube, a screen comes up saying, “Jay Leno is a Copyright infringer. He steals from Brian.”
Wouldn’t that be fucked up? I mean, I would have to be like a fucking mixture between a criminal and a witch to pull off something like that. And yet you did all of this to me without a problem. Are you a hacker-witch? What I’m trying to say here is that if I did what you did, I would go to jail. You did it, and then probably bought a new sports car!
Jay, I humbly ask you to please stop calling me a thief on YouTube. It’s not true, and I don’t want the YouTube community to think I’m a jerk. And I know you’re reading this going, “Brian, you don’t understand! It’s not me, it’s just some NBC internet robot that scans YouTube videos and then compares the videos to the vast NBC library and just blocks the YouTube videos that match up, because the robot assumes the video has been stolen. Besides, you don’t own anything on YouTube! Don’t be mad at me, funny man Jay Leno! I liked your video! It’s the robot’s fault. The robot fucked up.”
Don’t hide behind NBC on this one, dude. And don’t blame YouTube. And forget about the robots. I’m not talking to the robot now. I’m talking to you, Jay Leno. Where does the buck stop on The Jay Leno Show, if not with Jay Leno himself? The buck stops with you Jay.
Jay, please apologize for using our video without asking, and then getting our video blocked and publicly calling me and my friend Travis thieves. I’m sure you would like to talk this through with us on your television show, but I’d rather meet somewhere more objective. My first choice would be to discuss this with you on the People’s Court. I had hoped arbitration would not be necessary, but I fear we are opening that door. Hope to hear back from you soon!
Brian Kamerer is a writer and musician, check him out here and here.
Travis Irvine is a comedian, filmmaker and occasional politician. Watch this and this.