back to article Viacom slaps YouTuber for behaving like Viacom

Viacom has slapped an American political candidate for posting his own video to YouTube. With its latest YouTube crackdown, the media behemoth seems to be sending a new message to internet video-sharers across the globe: "You can't mess with our copyrighted content. But we can mess with yours." Last year, as he ran for a spot …


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  1. Andrew Norton

    This is the problem

    This is why we need clear, understandbale copyright laws. It is a prime example of a case where current Us legislation is poorly worded, and ends up being a battle between lawyers - resulting often in whoever has the biggest legal fund winning.

    There is no sense here, and it just shows the scatter-gun approach that many corporate 'IP protection' departments have, and the depth of their research before making these accusations (and lets not forget, they're making the statements under penalty of purjury).

    It is indeed a sorry day when you have experts in a legal field unable to tell is something is civilly actionable or not, and where a company can take someone's extensive effort, stick a wannabe comic spouting verbal diarrhea - a whole 20 seconds of effort (double it if you want to include the effort to set up the colour seperation overlay) and it's now their work.

    Abuses such as this, are occuring more and more frequently. One of our aims, at the US Pirate Party, is to clear up the confusion the laws cause, and prevent such abuses as exemplified by Viacom.

    Andrew Norton

    Pirate Party of the United States

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Double standards

    This is why these bastards need to brought to heel, and quickly. If that's how they're going to behave, then I for one will have absolutely no compunction about "stealing" their movies and spreading them around on bittorrent or whatever. Now that the copyright nazis have shown their true colours, thinking it's OK for them to steal others' work while bitching and whining about us stealing theirs, it's time for the kettle to spit back in the pot's face, law or no law. So break out those bittorrent clients, people, and start SEEDING!

  3. Steve Collins

    Fair's fair

    As an academic lawyer this is such an interesting situation. I'd like to point out that the four enumerated categories of fair use set out in s.107 of the Copyright Act 1976 are not exhaustive. As many scholars before me have pointed out, they simply represent the threshold for the minimal amount of investigation by a court. There is absolutely no reason as to why a court could not find this a fair use if they were to interpret copyright in the appropriate constitutional context.

  4. Alex


    Isn't he usually pretty laid-back about fan-made work? Look at the whole Stephen Colbert green-screen challenge.

    Hey, I didn't even think of the Viacom connection until after I typed it. :)

  5. heystoopid

    Oh Yeah !

    Oh yeah , the legal wankers at VIACOM are very well aware about how clear cut and very defined all the court rulings , through to the Supreme , the highest court in the land regarding public and private parody including the very latest ruling against Mattel Verses The Headless Barbie Doll art work affair to name but one of the most recent of all of the cases using some form of parody ! For Mattel not only lost , making themselves look very stupid in the process , not only had to pay the winning parties legal costs as well.

    These wanking lawyers are operating on very thin ice and are inviting themselves into a brutal put down by either EFF or ACLU when push comes to the final shove ,over the illegal bully boy crap DMCA take down notices they have been dishing out!

    Further , if were not for the minimum rights enshrined within the US Constitution in regards to parody , 99% of the companies current income from their comedy shows would be terminated with prejudice as well !

    Wankers they be , and wankers they remain if they continue to think that the 1998 Bono sponsored DMCA overides the actual US Constitution and all common law rulings made to date in respect to parody !

  6. A J Stiles

    Just need more guts

    Call Viacom's bluff and go to court -- but make sure that Viacom know well in advance that you are going to be pushing for a defence that your use of their copyrighted work constitutes Fair Dealing. Because if you succeed, you will set a precedent, legally enabling other people to do the same thing you did.

    The odds are in your favour that it won't even get as far as court, because Viacom won't dare risk a legal precedent that favours the people who actually pay their wages over themselves.

  7. John A Blackley

    @Andrew Norton

    "This is why we need clear, understandbale copyright laws."

    And I need a full head of hair. Guess which one's gonna happen first?

  8. Chris Knight

    Hey hey, Chris Knight here :-)

    Re: copyright issues regarding the ad itself i.e. it being inspired by Star Wars. I ran it by a LOT of people in the know about this kind of thing before I started producing it and the word back was so long as I didn't use actual elements from the movies, I was okay. That this was being done for non-profit purpose made it all the more safe. I think the hardest part of making this was the lightsaber sound effects: created with an electric razor and a metal bowl. The *one* thing that I wasn't sure about in spite of trying to find its original source was the photo of the red schoolhouse: it was *everywhere* on the net. Everything else used in the commercial was free via Creative Commons or otherwise made freely available.

    A few months after the election, George Lucas's educational website dubbed the commercial the "Best Campaign Ad Ever!" and linked to it as recommended viewing for educators. I don't know what that means so far as approving of the ad, but it did make me smile a bit to see that :-)

    I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not trying to fight this for the money. I simply want to be respected as the original creator of the material, the same that should be due anyone else who's independently creating original content. That should include being able to include among my "portfolio" how popular my work might have become.

    Right now I'm working on a music video for a friend, who is a kick-butt guitarist and singer. It's shaping up to be a pretty neat production (heck I almost got killed by a train while filming it :-) My friend is a longtime musician who's worked hard, paid his dues and he deserves his chance to shine. Posting his video on YouTube was going to be a way to have him be appreciated by the wider world. Unfortunately as things stand right now, I don't know if we *should* put it on YouTube, or any other video sharing site for that matter. Not if he stands a chance of getting co-opted too, as happened to me and many others. I don't see how VH1 wouldn't take his video and air it without any regard to the original artist, if it saw fit to do so.

    Like I said, this isn't about being paid money. It's not about money at all. I think some people are assuming that it is. This is about doing the decent and honorable thing by respecting the individual.

    I know that Viacom probably feels pretty legally empowered to do whatever they want with this situation. But having a power does not necessarily mean having the wisdom to use that power, or the moral right to wield that power to begin with. And if this is about Viacom wielding that power just for sake of power, then... I don't know quite what to say, other than it demonstrates that they really DON'T care about respecting the individual, at all.

    And I don't want to be led to think that of anyone, including a major corporation.

  9. A. Merkin


    By Order of the court, members of this discussion board hereby ordered to stop commenting this topic, in clear violation of our clients' copyright.

    In schoolyard terms, the DMCA is a Scissor-Rock, and trumps free speech every time. (nyah!)

  10. Morely Dotes

    The proper response:

    File a copyright infringement lawsuit against Viacom for their unauthorized use of the Jedi's original video, demanding actual damages of whatever the equivalent of 3 minutes of one of their major films grossed, plus punitive damages equal to their annual gross income.

    The let the lawyers work out the difference.

  11. John Dougald McCallum

    @ Cris Knight

    "A few months after the election, George Lucas's educational website dubbed the commercial the "Best Campaign Ad Ever!" and linked to it as recommended viewing for educators. I don't know what that means so far as approving of the ad, but it did make me smile a bit to see that :-)"

    That reads to me as they don't care and that they realy liked it in to the bargain.

    @ Morley Dotes

    Nice one son.How to be one of the richest individuals in the US.☺☺☺☺☺

  12. The Aussie Paradox

    Where's my copyright payment?

    Hmmmm, I am pretty sure there are a couple of movies out there they resemble small bits of my life (I can rule out Alien, Grease and Love Actually).

    Please send all cheques to the address below or the lawyer get's it, ok?

    The Aussie Paradox

    PO BOX 7448

    Now, if I can get my life to match Simpson's, I'd be rich I tells' ya! Rich!


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