Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

How Family Guy Got Caught Stealing A Video From YouTube

When a television show has been on the air for 19 seasons, it's bound to have a misstep or two. That's certainly the case with the long-running animated sitcom Family Guy. The show isn't afraid to poke fun at hot-button issues with plenty of controversial episodes over the years that would be enough to make Lenny Bruce blush. 

However, back in 2016, the series made headlines for a different kind of controversy: copyright infringement. As many creators on the platform are all too aware of, YouTube has gotten especially strict over the last few years about any users who upload pre-existing content. In an effort to prevent entire seasons of shows from going up, the platform has also eliminated a ton of content that merely used a clip of a show or movie in passing to illustrate a point. This was actually the reverse case: a big TV show illegally converting a piece of content that originated on YouTube (via The Independent).

Family Guy took footage from a YouTube clip and used it in an episode

In the season 14 episode "Run, Chris, Run," Peter and Cleveland bond over the classic NES game Double Dribble. Peter exploits a glitch in the game to try to win, and instead of the creators taking their own gameplay, they instead uploaded a YouTube video from 2009 of the glitch in question for their own episode. The only difference between the two clips is that Family Guy changed "CPU" to "2UP."

It was only a matter of hours until an automated bot on YouTube removed the original video, replacing it with a message that read, "This video contains content from FOX, who has blocked it on copyright grounds." Since YouTube's copyright controls are a sensitive subject for many, numerous people were quick to chime in on how Fox allegedly "stole" a clip and then got the original taken down. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane got involved, going to Twitter to state, "Hey Twitter: FYI I don't run Fox, and I'm away from FG working on a new show. However I will look into the Double Dribble issue" (via Kotaku). Fox eventually issued its own statement, reading, "The video in question was removed as a result of Fox's routine efforts to protect its television show Family Guy from piracy. As soon as we became aware of the circumstances, the content was restored."

In a matter of days, the original Double Dribble clip was restored with the uploader issuing the following statement: "This footage of my playing was used in an episode of Family Guy that aired on Monday May 15th, 2016 without my knowledge or consent. I was subsequently hit with a copyright claim and the video was taken down. After a few days the story broke across the internet and the video was restored on May 20th, 2016 without any of my doing. That is all that I wanted was my own video back. Thank you to any party involved that resolved the issue and thank you Family Guy for the exposure of such a small video! I also want to thank Seth McFarlane [sic] for tweeting about the issue and looking into it!"

Family Guy is already one of the longest-running series in television history, and it doesn't show any signs of slowing down any time soon. Hopefully in the future, those working behind the scenes are a little more careful about what they take from other sources.