ABC has a big, dumb hit on its hands with Wipeout, which, despite a 5% drop from its premiere, finished second once again this week behind America's Got Talent. Alas, the network's would-be monopoly on lowest-common-denominator horseshit is threatened today as word gets around that ABC might be hewing a little too close to Spike TV's own padded-obstacle-course mash-up MXC. Spike is apparently taking the lift in stride, but MXC's co-creator has his own theories; after all, a rip-off would be one thing — the nets are built on them these days.
It would be easy enough to say what comes around goes around: MXC itself is a hyperedited mess of Japanese game show clips, recut and dubbed to mimic "a parody of over-produced network reality shows," notes co-creator and executive producer Larry Strawther — except the clips are licensed and have been running on Spike for almost five years now. Strawther apparently fought back after seeing Wipeout for the first time; you can imagine how poorly that went:
Within five days, ABC lawyers induced YouTube to block the video for copyright infringement. The video is obviously covered by the copyright act's fair use provision (Section 107) which explicitly allows usage for criticism, comment and parody. ...
YouTube did not once notify me or ask for a response before taking action to block the video. Even more disturbing to me is they have apparently altered the search results algorithm to benefit ABC and punish MXC. Whereas before Tuesday, June 24, if you typed in both "MXC" and "Wipeout" you would have seen at least hundreds of fan-generated videos showing clips from our show MXC. Now if you type in MXC and Wipeout, you are taken to results for motocross — which uses MX as an acronym.
Le scandal! Strawther is pretty classic, though, essentially claiming on his site that Spike isn't paying him for MXC reruns and implying that ABC might be worthy of picking up the slack. We see a cease-and-desist in his future long before any settlement, but it's a valuable object lesson to you network execs out there: If you must steal, keep it to talent shows and crime franchises. Falling idiots in helmets are way, way too easy to trace.