A Message from JamesBurkeFan

I have good news and bad news, first the good news. James Burke’s wonderful documentary series The Day the Universe Changed is finally becoming available at a reasonable price. Until now the only way to buy it was at $80 each for the ten DVD’s of the series that’s right $800US (although the Discovery Education Store sells the ten episode set for only $750US). Well on 1/27/2009 the complete 10 episode series will be shipping for $150US from PBS in a 5 DVD box set (you can pre-order now). Not only will you save a big wad of cash but you’ll be helping support PBS (NOVA, Nature, etc.). PBS also has Connections: 1 and Connections: 2 available as box sets at the $150US price in stock for immediate shipping. Also of note to Netflix subscribers is the availability of Connections 1, 2 & 3 right now and TDTUC will be available soon.

Now the bad news, the JamesBurkeFan YouTube channel is gone, he is protesting the copyright related takedown of another YouTube channel he was working on as RichardFeynmanFan. He sent me an email with permission to post it so, I’ll let him explain this in his own words.

This refers to “former” YouTube user “JamesBurkeFan”, which is (or was) myself. I should like to say no request was made to me to take down that channel due to any copyright issue. Nobody contacted me, and I had even been told that Mr. Burke was well aware of the existence of the channel which promoted his views and ideas without any advertising or monetary benefit to myself. Originally I had mentioned on the page that TDTUC was not available for sale to private individuals. This has changed and I was delighted to find out about it, and immediately posted a link to the purchase page on the main channel page.

I took this channel down willingly (and with much sadness) in protest for the takedown of another channel I was building in dedication to Richard Feynman. That channel was another purely educational channel which took the Feynman lectures and combined the audio with clips from the lecture notes making them far easier to understand. I made a pact with myself essentially linking the two channel’s existences (though I pretended to be two different people).

After much correspondence with the complaining party (Michael A. Gottlieb) who was really complaining on behalf of Addison-Wesley publishers (aka. Caltech*), an agreement could not be reached and the site (together with it’s fundamental [and I think novel] idea) was destroyed.

Of course YouTube and my subscribers will not know why the channel was closed. However the awareness raised by it (I have many emails and messages to verify this) brought Mr. Burke to many young people who would otherwise have never heard of him. Additionally, I believe the channel indirectly encouraged the ultimate publication of TDTUC in DVD format for sale to the general public. That was the main goal anyway and I’m glad if in some small way I helped to cause it’s realization.

– Alan Carre [aka JamesBurkeFan & RichardFeynmanFan]


*that was meant as a joke

It’s too bad that a copyright holder would do this but it is their right. Personally I think Mr. Burkes way of acting is the right way, let the material stay up on the web as long as the poster is not trying to profit from the work and the posting is meant for global public education. But that is a decision only a copyright holder and their attorneys can make, obviously Addison-Wesley doesn’t feel this way. While I never got to see any of Alan’s work on The Feynman Lectures it sure seems like it would have been very helpful in making them easier to understand for the general public. Again personally, I think it could have driven sales of the books and audio of the lectures to the general public but then again, I may be wrong and it could have hurt Addison-Wesley by lowering sales. I also think it is too bad that Alan felt the need to take down the James Burke videos but hey, just like Addison-Wesley’s decision, it is solely his decision to make.

Somewhat related to all this, Blake Stacey of Science After Sunclipse had pointed me to Feynman’s “The Character of Physical Law – Messenger Lectures” series on Google Video last year. Checking to see if I could link to those as a consolation prize for my couple of readers, I see those videos have been taken down too.

*** UPDATE July 18. 2009 ***

Alan has sent me some exciting new information, the Feynman lectures have been purchased by Bill Gates and are being put online for free! You can read more about the story at this article from the NY Times.

15 Replies to “A Message from JamesBurkeFan”

  1. Sucks about how Alan’s efforts were handled by certain parties, but kudos to him for his work nonetheless. I Googled for info after trying to watch one of the Connections episodes (every so often I watched one of the Burke videos on YouTube to pass my lunch hour) and am delighted to see the TDTUC is coming to DVD. Hot damn, I know what I want for my birthday…!


  2. I think that it is a good thing that JamesBurkeFan protested, although i used to watch the Connections videos that he out on youtube for school. Now we can only watch them on-campus. So a message to you, JamesBurkeFan, fight on.


  3. And now the good news. I am rebuilding the site on dailymotion.com:

    www dailymotion com/JamesBurkeFan

    This will take some time (several months) so please be patient.


  4. Thank you so much for contacting me. I searched for two hours last night trying to find the channel. The arguments for taking the channel down by the copyright holders are ludicrous. These episodes were aired on public TV, presumably for educational purposes. Not everyone can afford 800, or even 150. to be educated. When I buy copies of TV shows, it is to receive new content or pristine quality, and I never buy a show I HAVEN’T SEEN. Posting them on you tube is the only way to properly advertise this wonderful show. They are idiots.


  5. Saltywench,

    As Alan stated in his original message quoted in the main post, the “The Day the Universe Changed” episodes were NOT taken down due to anything the TDTUC copyright holders did.

    Please re-read what Alan wrote in the original quoted message.


  6. Yes, TDTUC was taken down by me and me alone *in protest* for the takedown of the Feynman Lecture series I was trying to put up. YouTube did not consider my counter-complaint and I had no other means to hurt YouTube other than to remove some of it’s most highly valued content.


  7. It is so unfortunate that copyright owners are acting this way. They are trying to (and succeeding in) in living in the last century. Shame on you Addison Wessley.


  8. And shame on me! Because I’ve given up on dailymotion; their site is a disgrace.

    So it’s back to YouTube and now /user/JamesBurkeWeb which will take just as long to rebuild. A few changes to the way the channel works are in order anyway and I believe complacency would’ve ultimately led to the demise of JamesBurkeFan. This has been a wakeup call in a sense, and perhaps just in time!

    [btw. you can still cast your vote for Education at /user/JamesBMotion]


  9. To Paul:

    Could you put a strikeout through and “un-URL-ize” that dailymotion link I posted? It will not be valid soon obviously, and I don’t know if everyone reads to the last post.

    Thanks in advance,
    – Alan


  10. Simply outrageous! I am so disappointed that the channel was taken off Youtube! One of my favorite TV series ever! I don’t have $500.00 burning a hole in my pocket to by his shows. I may just join Netflix and (youknowwhat).

    Thanks for your efforts, I really appreciated it!


  11. To all (or anyone?):

    Having shamefully abandoned my previous ‘protest’ I felt I should at least make some sort of attempt to compensate. Click on my name for the latest drama: The “Addison-Wesley / RichardFeynmanFan showdown”!

    Brought to you live from none-other than YouTube itself!

    – Alan (RFF)


  12. I certainly understand your actions.

    I’m sad the that the JamesBurkeFan channel is gone.

    The fact that TDTUC is available at a reasonable price is wonderful news!

    As for the Richard Feynman project…I cannot understand why they would not encourage you.
    He is not as gifted as James Burke in terms of organizing his thoughts to form a coherent presentation (in my opinion) suitable for the general viewing public.

    I hope you can somehow help Mr. Feyhman to become more accessible.

    As for Mr. Burke…I am delighted that PBS has decided to make TDTUC available at a reasonable price. Well done!


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