Law Firm Behind Removal of YouTube Tar Sands Satire Fundraiser Tied to Big Oil

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DeSmog Canada recently revealed Andy Cobb and Mike Damanskis – two political satirists in the spotlight for their ongoing spoofery of the Alberta tar sands project – had an Indiegogo fundraising promotional video for their upcoming “vacation” to the Alberta tar sands ordered removed from YouTube due to an alleged copyright violation.

Alleged because under U.S. legal precedent (YouTube is a U.S. company), it’s almost impossible to claim copyright damages for parody and/or satire. That won’t keep Travel Alberta, the province’s tourism bureau, from trying.

“The original inspiration for our project is that industry PR around the tar sands seems like a cross between a travel ad and oil company ad, inviting us to ‘come to Alberta’ and see for ourselves,” Mike Damanskis told DeSmog

Demanskis has provided DeSmog with a copy of Travel Alberta’s complaint, a screenshot of which can been seen below.

As the screenshot portrays, Travel Alberta is being represented by Denton for this complaint, a firm formed with the merger of international law firm Salans LLP, Canadian law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP and international law firm SNR Denton in March 2013.

Under-explored thus far in the saga: the relationship between Denton and Big Oil.

DeSmog investigation has revealed Denton is a major corporate firm representing Big Oil in all facets of its operations, from upstream, to midstream to downstream. Further, the attorney-of-record issuing the complaint, Jordan R.M. Deering maintains an attorney-client relationship with Big Oil. Fraser Milner Casgrain also formerly lobbied on behalf of Big Oil and also represented infamous climate change denier Tim Ball in court. 

Representing ExxonMobil Tar Sands Project, Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline 

Denton has “made the case” for many oil and gas industry clientele and works closely both with tar sands producers and also pipeline companies bringing the product to market. 

One of Denton’s major clients for the past year and a half has been Enbridge, concerning the company’s controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline set to carry tar sands crude from Alberta to the coast of British Columbia at Kitimat. From there, diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) will be shipped to predominantly Asian export markets. Northern Gateway – by and large – is Canada’s version of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and has encountered fierce resistance

Denton explains of its legal role for Northern Gateway on its website as “advising on all aspects of the proposed dual pipeline…and the marine terminal at Kitimat…Counseling the client during environmental assessments and National Energy Board proceedings and providing advice with respect to negotiations with aboriginal groups and governments, shipping and navigation reviews, commercial structuring, finance and construction.” 

A dues-paying member of the Alberta Chamber of Resources and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Canada’s largest oil and gas lobby, Denton also enjoys another powerful client: ExxonMobil, the “Private Empire.”

Exxon’s the subject of Cobb and Damanskis’ first tar sands-centric satire poking fun at Exxon’s massive Pegasus tar sands Pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, which aired on primetime on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” as seen below.

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Steve Horn is the owner of the consultancy Horn Communications & Research Services, which provides public relations, content writing, and investigative research work products to a wide range of nonprofit and for-profit clients across the world. He is an investigative reporter on the climate beat for over a decade and former Research Fellow for DeSmog.

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