The adorable green character that people are calling Baby Yoda (they don’t actually have a name yet) has become a breakout star of the new Disney+ streaming show “The Mandalorian.” But last week, cute Baby Yoda GIFs started disappearing from Giphy, one of the most popular animated GIF sites on the web. The good news: The GIFs are back. The bad news: It’s still unclear why the Baby Yoda GIFs disappeared in the first place.
Many people speculated that Disney’s team of lawyers had filed DMCA notices to have the Baby Yoda GIFs removed from Giphy for violating copyright. The GIFs started disappearing after Vulture published an entire article with nothing but Baby Yoda GIFs. But the reasons for their disappearance given by sites like IGN were just speculation, despite some definitive-sounding headlines.
Last Thursday, Gizmodo reached out to both Giphy and Disney but didn’t hear back. We finally got a response from Giphy last night, but we’re still confused about what the hell happened.
“Last week, there was some confusion around certain content uploaded to GIPHY and we temporarily removed these GIFs while we reviewed the situation,” a Giphy spokesperson told Gizmodo via email. “We apologize to both Disney and Vulture for any inconvenience, and we are happy to report that the GIFs are once again live on GIPHY.”
Wait, what? Does that mean that Giphy deleted the GIFs without any intervention from Disney? Why are they apologizing to Disney, the party that would presumably be behind any deletion of the GIFs in the first place? Giphy did not respond to a follow-up email and Disney has still not gotten back to us.
Disney has been known to overreach time and again when it comes to copyright. The fact that Mickey Mouse is still protected by copyright at all, is only through the tireless work of lobbyists who keep getting Congress to extend copyright protections. But it’s still not clear that Disney was being too jumpy and issued any DMCA complaints for Baby Yoda.
All that matters right now is that the GIFs, which are a clear example of fair use under U.S. copyright law, are back. But we’ll have to wait until Friday for the latest episode of Lone Wolf and Cub.... sorry, “The Mandalorian”... to find out what happens with Mando and Baby Yoda. We might even learn Baby Yoda’s real name. Who are we kidding? We’re still going to call them Baby Yoda.