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Viacom Sued Over YouTube Parody Removal 99

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the turnabout-still-fair-play dept.
A self aware computer input device writes "Just a week after Viacom sued Google over copyrighted material, MoveOn.org Civic Action and Brave New Films LLC have sued Viacom claiming the cable network company improperly asked the video-sharing site YouTube to remove a parody of the network's 'The Colbert Report.' Couple this with the iFilm fiasco reported earlier, and you have to question how a company like Viacom can cry foul when it can't even accurately account for its own copyrighted material."
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Viacom Sued Over YouTube Parody Removal

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2007 @07:44AM (#18456549)
    I know I like to cry fowl when I see a turkey of an article like this one.
  • Fowl (Score:5, Funny)

    by kahei (466208) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:00AM (#18456667) Homepage

    Those vultures at Viacom have a full-fledged plan to feather their nests by hatching lawsuits -- and it looks like some people are getting soar about it. Hiring those legal eagles to flip them the bird won't come cheep, though.

    Bah, the RIAA probably egged them on in the first place.

  • You Tube link (Score:3, Informative)

    by had3l (814482) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:18AM (#18456797)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNHqX27hlz8 [youtube.com]

    Pretty unfunny imo.
    • Re:You Tube link (Score:4, Interesting)

      by _xeno_ (155264) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:43AM (#18456999) Homepage Journal

      I dunno, some of it was hilarious:

      We may not have a TV show, but we have something better: online petitions.

      That was hilarious. The rest? Not as much. I think their humor was a little too subtle and poorly executed - the people making the jokes weren't comedians (Al Franken's a politician, right?).

      So, not the funniest thing ever, but still mildly amusing. They were obviously trying to be funny, but didn't quite succeed, and so they sounded more like people who simply didn't get the joke than people who were really just advertising for the Colbert Report.

      Which is obviously why Viacom had to try and take it down. No one but Viacom is allowed to advertise their shows. If you so much as mention their show ... oh crap. Gotta go.

      • by AvitarX (172628)
        I liked the self aware part at the end where they make a ridiculous statement about the way online petitions work (Even Steven Colbert will sign it) and then say "That's what we are all about at moveon.org".
    • by Lockejaw (955650)
      That's not a parody of The Colbert Report. That's a parody of Outfoxed [wikipedia.org].
    • The parody protection doesn't apply just to funny material. They may have no comedic talent, but that doesn't mean that a parody isn't still protected.
  • by aadvancedGIR (959466) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:33AM (#18456919)
    and organize the Everyone vs Everyone trial.
    • The only people that seem to be excited about the DMCA are the lawyers going to town on YouTube.

      It gives them an excuse to spend pointless hours watching viral videos of some guy getting hit in the face with a blunt object. "It's research, I tell ya. Research!"
    • by geobeck (924637)

      I read the summary, and this song [metrolyrics.com] immediately came to mind. Especially "Aww, do I even need a reason?"

  • by karlandtanya (601084) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:41AM (#18456969)
    Viacom's complaint is exactly what's stated in the headline--that they CAN'T POSSIBLY track all the content they want taken down.
    They want to shift the burden of policing to the website operator.

    The law:
    Copyright violator puts material on website without proper rights to do so.
    Copyright holder complains to website operator.
    Website operator immediately takes down material, then follows up as appropriate.
    Courts, whatever follow.

    In exchange for certain protections (and they made out like bandits, but it's still not enough), the industry's lobbyists agreed to bear the weight of policing when the DMCA was finally passed in 1998.

    What Viacom wants:
    Website operator is responsible for making sure material in violation of license never appears on their site.
    If this ever happens, copyright holder gets one biiillllion dollars (well, 1.6, but you get the pinky anyhow).
    Well, that, or viacom just gets to dictate terms to google when they finally partner up.

    As the google/youtube lawyer said this morning on NPR--this is something they should take up in the Congress, not the Courts.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:46AM (#18457029)
      Isn't a parody free and clear anyways?

      Especially of the Colbert Report (of all things). Even ignoring the "oh-you're-one-of-them" reaction from fans, somehow I don't think it's in Colbert's best financial interests to restrict parody.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        It's not Colbert that's doing it, it's Viacom.
        • by timeOday (582209)
          I don't think that explanation will fly. The irony is too much. I wouldn't expect Colbert to lie down if he were sued for parodying Bill Oreilly, even if Oreilly did try to distance himself from it.
      • by Dasmonger (745619)
        What you will find out is that is that Viacom did NOT ask that this specific video to be taken down. This is really Google goof.. And the Law suit is really about Google not even maken slightest attempt to clean up thier obvious copyright violations.. however had no problem keeping the Pr0n off etc.. As a real content producer, I loved the true idea of Youtube where "YOU" the user can post and share your own content. Not just copy and past others hard work..and then let the wonderfull "do no evil" Google
      • by juan2074 (312848)
        This would be a parody of a parody.

        Do we need the Supreme Court to decide how to deal with that?
    • by DevStar (943486)
      Precendent from the Napster case shows that this is not the case. The music labels can effectively drop their catalog in your lap and then say, "Now make sure these don't show up on your site", and in Napster's case, they weren't even hosting the music!

      All Viacom has to do is say, "Here's our catalog of shows, they'd better not show up." The burden has now shifted to YouTube to do the policing of the catalog. And given that YouTube actually hosts the content, I think the case against them ia actually mor
    • What Viacom wants: Website operator is responsible for making sure material in violation of license never appears on their site.

      And this is the most important part of the issue. Google, Youtube, et al, have exactly zero insight into the contractual arrangements of Viacom or anyone else. It's impossible for them to have access to the necessary information such that they may pass judgement over the validity of a submission.

      If Viacom can shift the policing effort onto someone else, they might as well b

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BadMrMojo (767184)
      Excellent post, but I think you missed one option, bolded below:

      The law:
      Copyright violator puts material on website without proper rights to do so.
      Copyright holder complains to website operator.
      Website operator immediately takes down material or files a counter-claim explaining why this is not an infringement .
      Courts, whatever follow.

      To be honest, I can't recall who, if anyone, followed that correctly or incorrectly in this case. Just a small note on the process.

      The real point, however, is what disturbs me

  • by 8127972 (73495) on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:43AM (#18457003)
    .....Viacom gets a Wag Of The Finger!
    • by MarkGriz (520778)
      "Viacom gets a Wag Of The Finger!"

      Indeed. Seems to me this is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.
      I'm sure Colbert is loving the parody of a parody, but Viacom's lawyers are obviously to dense to figure it out.

      If Colbert was smart, he'd take the video and "rip it apart" and do his own "behind the scenes" investigation of Moveon.org and Al Franken and Media Matters for America.
      • by mgblst (80109)
        Indeed. Seems to me this is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

        Yes, this would be apt, if one hand was a giant, all ecompassing hand that controls almost everything, and the left hand was a miniscule part of the other hand, employed by the other hand, and in the situation where almost all content produced is owned by the other hand. Yes, then this would be apt. What Steve personally wants, has very little do sway in what Viacom wants, and it probably shouldn't.

        I reall
    • Never mind the 'wag of the finger', they can just get the finger!
  • While I'm a supporter (and member) of the EFF, I don't see the strategy in not filing a counter-notice. Under the DMCA, if a copyright holder files a DMCA takedown notice (Section 512), the service provider has to take down the content and notify the account holder. The account holder can file a counter-notice explaining why the content is not infringing, then 14 days after the counter-notice, the content can be put back if no lawsuit has been filed. (See http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512/faq.cgi [chillingeffects.org])
    S inc
    • by faloi (738831)
      My best guess, and I could be way wrong, is that a counter notice wouldn't carry enough legal weight to stave of Viacom in the long run. If they file a counter notice, and get the content restored, it just becomes a battle of lawyer memos. If they sue Viacom in court for falsely filing DMCA claims, they can get some legal legs to stand on to shut this stuff down quickly in the future.
  • Even when the kettle is calling the pot black, two wrongs don't make a right. Viacom may be a hypocritical tattletale in this case but it doesn't absolve YouTube of responsiblity. The submitter is silly to suggest this.
    • by Vexor (947598)
      Colbert should put Viacom "On Notice"
    • by XdevXnull (905214)
      That's not the issue at all. The issue is Viacom is trying to foist the responsibility onto YouTube to actively police their content, when under current law it is clearly Viacom's responsibility. They are trying to make a case in the courts that YouTube should be doing more, when all this shit starts hitting the fan and kinda just shows that Viacom themselves cannot keep copyright matters straight.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sique (173459)

      Even when the kettle is calling the pot black, two wrongs don't make a right. Viacom may be a hypocritical tattletale in this case but it doesn't absolve YouTube of responsiblity.
      Which responsibility are you talking about? To take down works where a copyright holder claims infringment? They do that. To reinstall them if the uploader files a counter notice disputing the claims on infringment? They do that. So where is YouTube at wrong? They just comply with the DMCA.
  • viacom - gootube = pattern of abuse
    viacom - ifilm = isolated incident
    slashdot = grasping at straws for news

    /bye karma
  • With a name like "MoveOn.org Civic Action and Brave New Films LLC" they can;t possibly be a bit full of themselves, could they?

    Someday we will evolve beyond the mind cancer known as politics.

Programmers do it bit by bit.

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