Viacom is a Big, Mean Bully

(This is my video rant on this subject)

Note to public relations professions everywhere. Don’t let your company turn into the poster child for copyright insanity. In one of the more tasteless moves yet, the company used an independent film maker’s video on its hopelessly unfunny Web Junk 2.0 show without permission. Then when the creator posted the evidence, Viacom had it removed. Read about it directly from the creator by visiting The Knight Shift by Christopher Knight. Thanks to Mike Abundo from InsideVideo for bringing this to my radar.

Says Knight: “So Viacom took a video that I had made for non-profit purposes and without trying to acquire my permission, used it in a for-profit broadcast. And then when I made a YouTube clip of what they did with my material, they charged me with copyright infringement and had YouTube pull the clip.”

Lately it seems television has been asking my permission more frequently than not. I used to get messages from people saying they’d seen my videos on television, and that’d be news to me. Video fans are amazing infringement police!

I really wanted to give Viacom the benefit of the doubt here, but now believe this stunt was premeditated. Knight wrote about being on VH1 back in early July (see post). Any half brained intern hired by Viacom would have found this post using Google alerts. So Knight made it quite easy for Viacom to find out he posted an excerpt of the show. I am guessing he even tagged the video on YouTube with words like VH1, Web, junk, Viacom. Then again, I made it kinda easy for ’em to find this parody I did on the circular garbage a while back. Be sure to rollover that link and read the tag.

So what should have Viacom done?

  • First, it certainly has rights to object if Knight, you or I grab a piece of its lousy television and post it illegally on YouTube.
  • However Knight too has cause to object to having been used on his show (which he didn’t when he first announced his discovery of Viacom’s theft).
  • Proper etiquette would be for Viacom to permit Knight’s posting of its show given that it would appear hypocritical to pull the video… having been guilty of the same offense.


40 Replies to “Viacom is a Big, Mean Bully”

  1. nalts are you sure it’s ok to have all that furniture behind you in your videos? Aren’t you worried HON chairs may require youtube to pull the video because you didn’t ask their permission? Or that step stool and garbage can did you ask Target permission first? What about those light bulbs? You know GE is a big outfit. They talk and talk about Tort Reform and the ones who sue for the most trivial things are these big companies. These guys are even trying to patent your DNA. Oh, you laugh…

    Thanks for the heads-up!

  2. When Viacom uses online video without permission, they probably don’t even expect any problems to arise. They must assume that the content creator’s only response will be “OH MY GOD, I’M ON TV! WOOOO!”.

  3. nalts, do you know what’s going to happen with this new copyright filtering program Youtube is supposedly going to start using any day (or for all I know, is already using)? How are they going to enforce it? Will it only affect new videos as they’re posted or old ones as well? Are they going to make us take down any videos we have on our channel now that use copyrighted music? Even if it’s only like a 30 second clip of it (i.e., not the whole song)? Even if the video is really funny and clearly the work of a comedic genius?

  4. From YouTube’s Terms of Use-

    4. General Use of the Website — Permissions and Restrictions

    YouTube hereby grants you permission to access and use the Website as set forth in these Terms of Service, provided that:

    A. You agree not to distribute in any medium any part of the Website, including but not limited to User Submissions (defined below), without YouTube’s prior written authorization.

    E. You agree to not engage in the use, copying, or distribution of any of the Content other than expressly permitted herein, including any use, copying, or distribution of User Submissions of third parties obtained through the Website for any commercial purposes.

    A. As a YouTube account holder you may submit video content (“User Videos”) and textual content (“User Comments”). User Videos and User Comments are collectively referred to as “User Submissions.” You understand that whether or not such User Submissions are published, YouTube does not guarantee any confidentiality with respect to any User Submissions.

    B. You shall be solely responsible for your own User Submissions and the consequences of posting or publishing them. In connection with User Submissions, you affirm, represent, and/or warrant that: you own or have the necessary licenses, rights, consents, and permissions to use and authorize YouTube to use all patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights in and to any and all User Submissions to enable inclusion and use of the User Submissions in the manner contemplated by the Website and these Terms of Service.
    C. For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions. However, by submitting User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service.

    It would seem that as long as Viacom, or not even Viacom really it could just be the producers of the show, contacted YouTube and obtained written authorization to use his content for the purpose of promotiong YouTube, he has no leg to stand on. Tripplehelix is headed down the right path, but it’s not so black and white. If they did not contact YouTube and obtain permission to use his work, then he can sue them for infringing on his copyright, since they didn’t obtain his permission, as long as the copy of the commercial they got was from YouTube, and not the TV station that broadcast the commercial.

    Oh, and while i’m at it, reading the above you’ll notice that comments fall in to the ‘user submissions’ category.

    D. In connection with User Submissions, you further agree that you will not submit material that is copyrighted, protected by trade secret or otherwise subject to third party proprietary rights, including privacy and publicity rights, unless you are the owner of such rights or have permission from their rightful owner to post the material and to grant YouTube all of the license rights granted herein.

    So please everyone, make sure your comments are all copyright free!

  5. This entire Via com YouTube user abuse has an air of “presto-change-o “magic about it . A piece of the video becomes a child of both the user agreement and the copyright and therefore an entirely different entity, a piece of intellectual property whose parentage is being denied rights as is if this were as dna fight on the Maury Povich show.

  6. Matt strikes some good points. However, even if viacom had permission from youtube, it would seem that Knight could still use the idea of fair play. As long as he didn’t just post the clip, but he added commentary in the video, fair play has a good chance of applying.

    Viacom’s permission from youtube simply removes his personal copyright claim, but it doesn’t remove his fair play claim.

    Still, large companies with lots of money effectively always win.

  7. Nalts,are you familiar with bam margera from the viva la bam show on mtv? well his record label is called filthynote records,and they have/had 2 channels on youtube,well it seems that viacom made them take down all their videos related to viva la bam & jackass,and had the channels canceled,maybe viacom owned all the rights,i dont know all the legal details,but anyway that really sucks!! OH BTW,i was looking on revvers editors picks and went to the very last page to see the old videos,and i came across your james jarvis video(filmed in marquis dejolies style)…. i left a link to it. see ya! steve

  8. Datz funny stuff marquis/james whatever your name is,i liked nalts comment “OMG OMG jarvis and paul separated at birth!”.Check out my video of an upside down lavalamp,its got some really funky guitar i found on,cheers!

  9. *My dad didnt like the V.A. much either,one time they mixed up his medications,and he went into a coma for several weeks,but at least they did pay for his room & board at the nursing home for the last few years of his life,btw,he was in the navy.well,back to making videos,or even better,getting outside for a while!

  10. Viacom used my vid Pepsi Girl for Web Junk, VH1 and Ifilms which got (400,000) views.

    As far as i know its still up on the web junk archives last June or July (2006) they never asked permission or contacted me.

    I can’t see the Web Junk archives as am outside the US (UK) so i can’t verify could one of you guys see if its there, it’s between June and July (06)

  11. marquisdejolie,so are you saying you hotlinked it? 😉 *I left a link(just a link,not a hotlink) to Current cummunications website,they are slowly installing BPL,broadband over powerline,in several US cities,well so far its only available in Cincinnati,but soon in the Dallas,texas area.I cant wait,my cable internet has been out for 5 consecutive days,and several hours a day.Upload speeds are the same as downloads,and they send you a free modem.check out the FAQS,its pretty interesting the way it works.BTW,has anyone noticed the great and powerful supreme leader of all that is video(NALTS),hasnt commented in a while? i guess hes breaking into happyslips apartment again,or maybe she let him in this time {:-O

  12. Uh…I don’t understand the difference between hotlinking and linking. Maybe it’s in the ingredients. Is there garlic involved?

    Nalts is at the factory, cranking out videos almost as fast as me.

  13. Hotlinks are usually red and spicy,links are normally a bit milder 😉 nalts just uploaded “prank the garbage man 2” on revver,i left a link……umm……i mean i left a url to it

  14. Thanks marquisdejolie, can’t watch it as mentioned before.

    Does the clip play as identical to mine or is there some “added branding” , editing or narration?

    Cheers for looking.

  15. Yes. All over the place. With commentary DURING the video. Overlays, pre-rolls, voiceover, your video hacked up and interrupted and talked over and stamped with the number “10”. It’s horrendous. Sorry to the bearer….

  16. “Nalts is at the factory, cranking out videos almost as fast as me.” ……,i didnt know there was an actual video factory,i need to look into that! The link box isnt popping up as davideo said,did nalts turn it off? maybe hes just screwing with us! marquis,when are you and nalts going to co-produce a video? or have u already? check out my lightning video,i have one at regular speed,one on a loop,and one in slowmotion.Im getting hungry,time to go buy some links,but not hotlinks 😉

  17. I’m seeing the link boxes. Maybe it’s one of those quirky techno thingees like last week I kept having to re-install my Flash Player over and over again every time I opened Youtube (no matter what browser I used), then it went away for the holiday and now it’s back.

    Collab videos with the Naltster? I think that my toothless taco stand take on the world scares, bothers and discombobulates Nalts’ soccer mom fan base. Oil and water.

    Is that real lightning? For some reason, rolling thunder does it for me. Rolling thunder and approaching chopper blades: they make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

  18. Did you see that, Kevin? Wally’s article suggests you may be submitting over-intellectualized material to the web. Time to dumb it down. I’ve dumbed my stuff down as far as I know how to. But then, you don’t need advice from me. You’re the number three most viewed comedian of all time on Youtube. Zowie!

  19. Guns are for sissies. Do it the old fashioned way – drive your car off a cliff. That’s where I’m headed right now.

  20. I wouldn’t use a gun I’d start walking up.

    ya know, we should be able to put our heads together and come up with a million $ idea. how hard can this be? it’s the internet for god’s sake!

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