Film that inspired Will Wright's "Spore" is focus of latest YouTube subpoena

The short film credited with inspiring "Sims" creator Will Wright to develop the much-anticipated video game "Spore" is the subject of the latest subpoena against YouTube, Google Watch has learned.

The Eames Office applied for a subpoena against YouTube on Tuesday to have copies of the short film "Powers of Ten" removed from YouTube. The film, less than ten minutes in length, was created in 1977 by Charles Eames and his wife, Ray, and depicts the relative scale of the unverse in successive powers of ten.

A search done on today reveals only two pages of results, mostly for the popular Simpsons parody and none for the Eames' film. A search through Google's main search page returns a top ten result for a version of the film on YouTube along with the disclaimer "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Eames."

A search through Google Video, however, reveals several copies of the film still available on Google Video. Google Video was not mentioned in the Eames subpoena.

Representatives from YouTube say they continually respond to DMCA takedown requests and always respond to valid legal processes. YouTube was recently subpoenaed by Mark Cuban's Magnolia Pictures regarding copies of the documentary "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room."

YouTube and Google were also recently sued by Viacom for "massive intentional copyright infringement." Viacom had previously sent takedown requests for over one hundred thousand infringing clips.

In a May 2006 article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, video game developer Will Wright cited "Powers of Ten" as the inspiration for his latest game [1] about universal scale and evolution.[2] The game, "Spore," is scheduled to debut late this year. You can watch a demo of the game here.

Below, "Powers of Ten" as found on Google Video:

[1] As we write this article concerning copyright, it is not without a hat tip to irony that we link to a free, copied version of the Wall Street Journal article, as the original is only available for a fee. Even to subscribers like Google Watch.

[2] The WSJ article incorrectly reported the film's publication date as 1968, which is actually the date for Cosmic Zoom, a similar documentary directed by Eva Szasz. Some of the animations in that film, such as the cloud cover over Manhattan and the intertwined moebius strips of molecules, seem to influence the Simpsons' parody more directly than does "Powers of Ten."