MXC vs. Wipeout - a comparison

I am one of the creators and exec producers of a TV show called MXC -- a reality show spoof using footage we licensed from the 1980s Japanese show, Takeshi's Castle. While some people think we just simply translated the original Japanese dialog, we actually totally re-edited their footage, taking bits and pieces from different episodes of TC and then re-cutting them together to make one of our shows. We came up with our own "concept" and format, added numerous replays, a ton of graphics, and totally revoiced the entire audio track (dialog, sound effects and music) to make it into a parody of over-produced network reality shows.

We've been a cult "hit" for five years. (i.e., very loyal if numerically challenged audience, very little money -- for ourselves, that is; Spike's made a ton of money because-- since it's cable -- they don't pay a cent to us for reruns -- which in the cases of the earliest shows, must now number over forty airings.

ABC recently came on with a show called Wipeout which is a very well-produced show, but basically borrowed many elements from our show. (The small sample of reviews and internet forum comments below show we're not alone in that feeling.) To be fair, Wipeout borrowed some of their end game from Ninja Warrior as well.

I know most TV is derivative of something else, and maybe the producers didn't start out to copy us, but ABC certainly marketed the show as another MXC and my guess is that every week they were saying "Make it more like MXC," quite possibly thinking, hey it's on Spike, nobody watches that network anyway.

However, not wanting to get into a pissing match with the big boys, but definitely wanting the world to know that ABC (and/or Endomol/Lock & Key Productions, the producers of Wipeout) were ripping off our show, I made the above video to show in a somewhat amusing, entertaining way the similarities between their show and MXC. I posted it on YouTube around June 19. Within two days it was the top result when you typed in both words "MXC" and "Wipeout."

Within five days, the ABC/Endomol/Lock & Key lawyers induced YouTube to block the video for copyright infringement. However, my right to use their footage is obviously covered by the 1976 copyright act's fair use provision (Section 107) which explicitly allows usage for criticism, comment and parody. This very same fair use provision allows ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Show to use video from other shows for the purpose of jokes on his late night show. It also allows ABC-owned ESPN to use thousands of minutes of sports highlight footage from NBC and CBS on their Sports Center.

YouTube never asked me for a response before blocking the video. Even more disturbing to me is they have altered the search results to benefit ABC and punish MXC. Whereas before Tuesday, June 24, if you typed in both "MXC" and "Wipeout" in YouTube's search box, 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. Why would YouTube alter their search results in such an obvious, heavy-handed way? I can only assume they did not want to strain their close personal relationship with ABC/Disney's advertising revenue dollars.

Beyond the copycat concerns, there are more important issues in play:

  • the deliberate stifling of legal fair use by the issuance of copyright violation notices by network lawyers who are knowingly misrepresenting that material is infringing.
  • the right of free speech; (which is what the fair use provisions are explicitly designed to protect)
  • the deliberate manipulation (without disclosure) of internet search results for financial gain

Four years ago, upstart YouTube's goal was to democratize the web. But now they are one of the Big Boys in International Media, they have become accomplices with the major media conglomerates in strangling legal and fair usage of copyrighted content.

We just set out to do a show that was funny to us, and maybe make a couple dollars. I never imagined a network would be so dumb as to turn this into a much bigger issue.


Larry Strawther
Co-creator, Executive Producer, MXC




For Your Next Challenge You Must Cross The Fair Use Tightrope Before The DMCA Projectiles Knock You Into The Mud" — Good Morning Silicon Valley, Jun 30, 2008

MXC Creator says "Wipeout" Yanked his YouTube Video
James Hibbert Live Feed - (Hollywood Reporter) THR.com July 9, 2008

Did ABC Unduly Influence YouTube To Cover Up Fact That 'Wipeout ...
Defamer Australia - July 9, 2008

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video
Stanford University - Center for Social Media


Wipeout itself seems a straight steal from Spike TV's MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge...
Jonathan Storm -- Philadelphia Inquirer, PA - Jul 1, 2008

“Wipeout” appears to be so close to Spike TV’s Japanese import “MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge” that it should be paying royalties.
Mark A. Perigard - Boston Herald, June 25, 2008

If you have ever seen MXC (formerly known as Most Extreme Elimination Challenge) on Spike TV, this should be VERY similar... DVR Playground -- June 24, 2008




Wipeout obviously is the American rip off of MXC

I saw 10 minutes of the show, and I swear, they copied MXC

The official title is just Wipeout, but let's face it: this is basically MXC.

...definitely think it is a ripoff of MXC...

MXC Ripoff on ABC

These are all from WakeWorld from June 25 and 26:

lame. MXC is way better. they still run MXC on Spike. — train (ttrigo)

The commentary on MXC made it work better. This is much more tame. — havasubu (socaldave)

Total ripoff of MXC, minus the hilarious commentary. — trace (trace):

I agree, I was pretty pissed tp see they made a shtty american ripoff of MXC, "gheee't'on!! — Sinko (sinkoumn):

By Caleb Rountree (dlwsrider): Haha, god I love MXC.

By jr (romes): they need an updated MXC. super hillarious.