One of the most popular internet memes of recent years looks to be coming to an end after YouTube began removing satirically subtitled clips of Downfall (Der Untergang), the award winning film by Oliver Hirschbiegel about the last days of Hitler's regime.
One scene in the film, where Hitler (played to wide acclaim by Bruno Ganz) realises that the war is lost, has been used repeatedly to parody modern concerns, including getting banned from Xbox Live, finding out there is no Santa Claus and the leaking of the iPhone. All have now been withdrawn from YouTube.
Ironically, one of the few Downfall parodies still left up is of Hitler complaining about all the Downfall parodies on the internet.
Hirschbiegel has said in the past that he had little problem with the parodies.
"The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality. I think it's only fair if now it's taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like," he told New York magazine.
Content owners will be watching the takedown carefully to see how the online community responds.
YouTube is currently facing legal action over its use of copyrighted material, and the efficacy of its removal procedures is under scrutiny. Media owners may well see this as a signal to purge YouTube of unauthorised content.
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