My 13 year old son is a HUGE fan of Legos and stopmotion lego animation videos. He has been pretty upset this weekend and today by a string of events which have affected one of his favorite YouTube Lego builders and animators. “LegoBoy” (real name “David”) is a U.S. teenager who has built a following of thousands the past three years, principally on the YouTube channels www.youtube.com/legoboyfan and www.youtube.com/legoboy12345678. Some of LegoBoy’s videos have had over 30 million YouTube views. If you view either of those channels this evening, however, you’ll see they have been suspended because of alleged copyright violations. This is a screenshot from LegoBoy’s own Flickr account:

LEGOBOY12345678 Account gone for now!

To keep his fans updated, LegoBoy (David) has created a vlog (video blog) YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/LegoboyVlogs) and is posting regular updates. From what I understand, a series of individuals and/or groups have posted formal copyright infringement complaints on his YouTube videos and this has led to suspension of both his primary channels. The following screenshot is now shown on YouTube when someone attempts to view the Mar 16, 2010, “Showreel” video on the legoboy12345678 channel:

Copyright Infringement Notice on LegoBoy YouTube Channel

This is not only a situation of deep personal interest to my son, but also a potentially instructive situation to follow as educators from a copyright / intellectual property perspective. The screenshot above appears to indicate the official Lego organization, “Lego Systems Inc.” is among those who have filed copyright complaints against LegoBoy. His vlogs (video blogs) which I’ve watched to date suggest he suspects “haters” who do not like him or his work, and false copyright infringement claims they’ve filed. This August 10th post on the Groovebricks website asserts LegoBoy has been the victim of people trying to blackmail him. On the (apparently “official”) LegoBoy FaceBook page, David reported on August 23rd a hacker gained access to his Yahoo email account. This may have been the way hackers got access to his actual YouTube accounts, where apparently some or all the videos were deleted.

I don’t have any special insight into this situation at this point, but I definitely want to follow this and see what develops. In addition to his vlog YouTube channel LegoBoy has also created an “ALT” channel (www.youtube.com/legoboy12345678ALT) where he’s posting some reviews.

Of the LegoBoy updated videos I’ve watched to date, the following video from today (August 29, 2011) is the most compelling. Watch at the 6:35 point, as David describes how important his YouTube Lego channels have become in his life and how much he values the feedback he receives from his community of literally THOUSANDS of people around the world. I’ve customized the embedded video version below to start at 6:35.

As he describes earlier in the video, over time David’s channel views have grown dramatically and provided him (via Google AdSense) with a good revenue stream of income. At this point, with both his primary channels suspended, however, that income has stopped.

I’ve watched some of LegoBoy’s videos in the past, and have been amazed by his creativity and devotion to Lego stopmotion videography. These films take a LONG time to create. (When you’ve made even SHORT versions in the past, as I have, you REALLY appreciate longer videos and particularly ones which are so well crafted.) I’m rooting for LegoBoy in this situation. I’m not sure what all the “lessons learned” here will be, but at least a few obvious ones are:

  • Everyone needs to use secure passwords and change them regularly, on email as well as other accounts.
  • Internet trolls can prey on successful web entrepreneurs, even when they are still high school students
  • Social media technologies provide important communication outlets for individuals to “get the word out” in a crisis so they can speak directly to their audience / interested parties.

There are probably many more lessons we can learn from this situation, so I’ll stay tuned. What’s your take on this?

Hang in there LegoBoy, keep fighting the good fight to let Google employees know the facts of your case. I hope you’ll share the details of the copyright arguments with us later. We’re cheering for you here in Oklahoma City.

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