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Viacom Sued Over YouTube Parody Removal 99

A self aware computer input device writes "Just a week after Viacom sued Google over copyrighted material, 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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  • Re:Oookay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Constantine XVI ( 880691 ) <`trash.eighty+slashdot' `at' `'> on Friday March 23, 2007 @08:05AM (#18456699)
    And still have to comply with the DMCA takedown notice, or have enough lawyers to hold back Viacom
  • 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 jibster ( 223164 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @09:13AM (#18457325)
    But the default position shouldn't be to take down any work just because a lawer says it infringes. If Viacom prove in court that it's infringing or at least convince a judge that it should be removed pending a case then fine.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday March 23, 2007 @10:15AM (#18458065) Homepage Journal

    The First Amendment applies only to actions by the government.

    The government passed a law that allows people to trivially infringe on the first amendment rights of others. If you don't think there's an action of government in there somewhere, you're not thinking.

  • by Migraineman ( 632203 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @11:17AM (#18459011)
    The DMCA is probably the single worst piece of legislation on the books. Clearly no one took the prototype and demonstrated how to abuse it prior to issue.

    However, the Constitution of the US is all about how the gub'ment interacts with the people. It has little to with how people interact with each other (anti-discrimination elements are an excption.) The government says I have a right to bear arms. That does not imply that you are powerless to prevent me from bringing a sidearm into your home or place of business. It only means that the government (and it's agents) are restricted in what they may do regarding my firearms.

    Similarly, the government is obligated to provide a level playing field for the citizens regarding freedom of speech, liberty, pursuit of hapiness, etc, etc. The executive summary is basically "The government may not demonstrate a bias." You however, are free to "bias" all you like. If you run a coffee shop, and allow customers to use an open mic on "political rant night," you're not obligated to allow anyone equal time. You're not an agent of the state, so those rules don't apply directly to you. If someone takes the stage and says something you don't like, you may ask them to leave. If they don't, they're trespassing and you have the option of bringing in law enforcement folks. Said individual may cry "I'm being oppressed" at the top of his lungs, but an individual (you, the coffee-shop owner) is not held to the same standard as the government. Granted, tossing someone out on open mic night is probably a bad move with respect to the customer base, but that's an image-issue, not a government-regulation one.

    If you can demonstrate that Viacom (or anyone else) is acting as an agent of the state, then you've got a valid claim of Nth Ammendment violation. That would be a government action by proxy, and I would fully expect any judge to get extremely angry at a government agency attempting such an end-run. Otherwise, it's just the DMCA being an overly-broad piece of crappy legislation. It could probably be declared unconstitutional on the grounds that it horribly infringes on fair-use under copyright law. But that's a totally different fight. Perhaps that's the one Google wants to fight - "In order to exercize my fair-use rights, I'm required to obtain a circumvention device (my PC) and to disable the kindergarden-grade protection measure." That's a shell game - in order to have these rights over here, you're required to break this other law. The situation allows the government to arrest you for exercizing your rights ... and that's the fundamentally-bad part. To quote Admiral Ackbar, "It's a trap!"
  • by rifter ( 147452 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @12:13PM (#18459851) Homepage

    Yes. The DMCA is fundamentally flawed. But that doesn't matter. There is no objective measure at the moment whether this video is infringing or not. If Viacom were to sue the creators directly, and made an argument as to why it infringes, then it would take a court to make the decision. Now, as long as the creators submitted the argument "It's clearly a parody" they'd win in court, but that hasn't happened yet.

    The DMCA would not be so bad if it were actually enforced as written. As things are it's only being used in a one-sided manner such that large companies are able to suppress whatever they want with no repercussions and small content providers are not protected at all (and are in fact being silenced via misapplication of the DMCA). In order to compel someone to take down infringing content providers have to swear under penalty of perjury that they own the content. To date, although numerous examples of blatant violation exist, including takedown notices being issued for obviously original works and other work that the submitter does not own, no prosecutions seem to have occurred. This is also the first lawsuit I have heard of on such grounds; it is a wonder that more have not been submitted.

    As for your bit about arguments being submitted in court, that is an odd bit of logic. TFA is about precisely that; to wit, the creators have submitted the argument, in court, that their video was wrongfully removed because it is in fact a parody. You don't even need to read the summary because this information is contained in the title of the slashdot article.

    Viacom probalby should have known that this is non-infringing, but their argument that they aren't in a position to make a legal judgement will be a decent defence in court.

    No, they have to be able to prove that they knew for a fact it was infringing. They are in a positioon to make a legal judgement and have done so wrecklessly. This is a blatant abuse of the DMCA which is covered in the statute itself. It's also an important case because this kind of abuse is far too frequent and comes of content providers not doing the due diligence required by the Act. It's about time someone cracked down on it; let's hope they make a fine example. Hang 'em high, judge! Hang 'em high!

  • Re:Oookay (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stewie241 ( 1035724 ) on Friday March 23, 2007 @05:48PM (#18465263)
    Why do you post on slashdot and not any of the other online tech forums?

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