Brow Beat

Twitter and YouTube Remove Trump’s Nickelback Meme Over Copyright Complaint

A blurry Chad Kroeger holds a picture frame with an image of four people in it. Two of them are Joe and Hunter Biden.
Still from the deleted video

Twitter has removed a video posted by Donald Trump that featured a snippet of the song “Photograph” by Nickelback following a copyright complaint by Warner Media Group. The tweet itself remains, but the clip—which edits a picture of Joe and Hunter Biden into the “Photograph” music video—has been taken down. “Per our copyright policy, we respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives,” Twitter said in a statement.

YouTube has followed suit, removing the video from the official White House channel, though it has been widely reposted elsewhere on unauthorized accounts. The video opens with Joe Biden answering a reporter’s question about his son’s overseas business dealings, denying that he had ever spoken to him about them. Then it cuts to Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger holding up a picture frame in which Biden and son pose with someone labeled a “Ukraine gas exec” while singing “Look at this photograph/ Every time I do it makes me laugh/ How did our eyes get so red?/ And what the hell is on Joey’s head?”

In another context, a 73-year-old posting a decade-old meme would be almost charming. Please, nobody tell the president about “IDK my BFF Jill.”

The law around memes and copyright is muddy, but this is not the first time that Twitter has removed one of Trump’s videos for infringement. In April, he tweeted out a cinematic trailer for his 2020 campaign set to “Why Do We Fall” from The Dark Knight Rises that was similarly yanked after Warner Bros. complained. Other media properties have voiced their displeasure over Trump’s use of their intellectual property—HBO publicly decried his use of the Game of Thrones* tag line and fonts—without taking formal steps to have the posts removed.

It’s rare for any of Trump’s tweets to be taken down, since Twitter has firmly refused to block Trump from the platform despite his disregard for the terms of service, on the grounds that removing him or any of his tweets “would hide important information people should be able to see and debate.” Apparently copyright infringement overrules this belief, or maybe dank memes just don’t fall under the category of “important information.”

Correction, Oct. 3, 2019: This post originally misspelled Game of Thrones as Game of Thones.