Is it Politically Correct to Call Colbert an Internet “Indian Giver”?

stephen-colbert.jpgThe bloggersphere is deeply upset about the fact that Viacom has removed Comedy Central’s content from YouTube, especially the work of Stephen Colbert.

A “wag of the finger” from to Colbert, who was among the most popular of YouTube’s celebrities until this went down. Colbert has embraced the web and consumer-generated media — encouraging fans to change Wikipedia entries and even providing a video of himself on a green screen so fans could make their own clips with him.

In an “open letter to Colbert,” Mark Glaser of MediaShift writes

You have been a bright shining star of Internet experimentation, freedom of expression online, and prankster extraordinaire in the long tradition of online pranksters. In fact, your track record online is awe-inspiring, stunning and a beacon of perfection for any wannabe entertainment outfit trying to find their sea legs on the Internets.

The response from Colbert fans and bloggers? A long debate about whether Colbert has a say in the matter, and whether he should quit over it.

We understand a media shop wanting to protect its copyright and monetize its video online, but this is absurdly extreme and short sited. Viacom- this isn’t brain surgery: Embrace YouTube as a marketing vehicle, and a) set limits about what is allowed, or b) demand revenue sharing. 

In the end, the people that watched Colbert on YouTube aren’t going to bother hunting him down on some horrible network website. Those are torture. And as Windy City put it, “are they insane? What else are they going to do with old episodes? It’s current events television.” I doubt YouTube cannabilized too many DVD sales.

This is a hard blow to YouTube, who has built a large following on the backs of unpaid creators. As the killer clips wander away, the audience will migrate. Napster taught us that. In the meantime it’s not such a bad thing for amateur creators. The competition for video viewers just got a bit easier. Now if someone could just get rid of Barats and Bereta I’d have a fighting chance for YouTube popularity.

P.S. Don’t worry. You can still see the clips that fans submitted using Colbert’s greenscreen video. Here’s the link. And here’s a site to visit while you wait for the video to load.

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