Weird Al Explains MTV’s Censorship of ‘Don’t Download This Song’

In 2006, MTV requested that Weird Al Yankovic censor the names of the sites Morpheus, Grokster, Limewire and Kazaa from the video of “Don’t Download This Song.” Al was pissed about it, but he complied. All was (probably) forgotten until Techdirt noticed the video on MTV’s new music video site and were perplexed by the bleeps. So The New York Times decided to do some digging.  

In an e-mail message on Sunday, Mr. Yankovic wrote that he had bleeped out the names to the file-sharing sites in his song two years ago, after MTV “told me that they would refuse to air my video” otherwise. “Instead of subtly removing or obscuring the words in the track,” he wrote, “I made the creative decision to bleep them out as obnoxiously as possible, so that there would be no mistake I was being censored.”

MTV is often known for censoring advertising and brand names in their videos (like blurring Coca-Cola ads). So maybe that was the reason why they had Weird Al insert the bleeps. But we’re guessing it might’ve also been because those online file-sharing sites were slowly choking the music industry to death at the time. 

We’re happy to hear silly censorship isn’t holding back Weird Al, although he has lots more competition now since his mid-90s heyday because of YouTube and other video humor sites. We suggest that he carves a niche with more tech-based song subjects. His new single is a parody of the T.I. song “Whatever You Like” with a twist on the economic downturn. How about “(You Can Tweet) Whatever You Like” instead?