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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Viacom hits me with copyright infringement for posting on YouTube a video that Viacom made by infringing on my own copyright!

UPDATE 09-12-2007 12:29 am EST: YouTube has restored the clip

"Chutzpah" is a Yiddish word meaning "unbelievable gall or audacity". An example of it would be the story of the kid who murders both of his parents, then throws himself on the mercy of the court on the grounds that he’s an orphan.

That's chutzpah. So is this: multimedia giant Viacom is claiming that I have violated their copyright by posting on YouTube a segment from it's VH1 show Web Junk 2.0... which VH1 produced – without permission – from a video that I had originally created.

Viacom used my video without permission on their commercial television show, and now says that I am infringing on THEIR copyright for showing the clip of the work that Viacom made in violation of my own copyright!

The clip in question was pulled by YouTube earlier this morning, at Viacom's insistence.

Last fall, as part of my campaign for Rockingham County Board of Education, I produced three commercials that ran on local television. The first of them – which I simply dubbed "Christopher Knight for School Board TV Commercial #1" – was hosted on YouTube the same evening that the ad started running on WGSR in Reidsville. You can watch it at http://youtube.com/watch?v=nLi5B0Iefsk.

Well, the concept of a candidate for Board of Education pitching himself by using the Death Star to blow up a little red schoolhouse is admittedly unusual. The YouTube clip got around quite a bit: as of this writing it's received over sixty-six thousand views. I put it and the other two ads on YouTube so that I could post them on this blog (because I was trying to chronicle everything that happened during the course of my campaign). And I'd always intended to keep them up after the election too, in case anyone else might find and enjoy watching them. Heck, I've always liked to think that maybe someday, others might see how I was a candidate and feel led to run for office themselves!

A month and a half ago some friends let me know that the cable network VH1 was spotlighting the commercial on their show Web Junk 2.0, in an edition titled "Animals & Other Crap".

VH1 took the video that I had created and hosted on YouTube, and made it into a segment of Web Junk 2.0. Without my originally-created content to work with, VH1 would not have had this segment at all. They based this segment of Web Junk 2.0 entirely on the fruit of my own labor.

I got to catch the episode and was laughing pretty hard not just at host Aries Spears's witty commentary about my commercial, but that VH1 had found the commercial worthy of sharing with such a vast audience.

Please bear in mind that at no time prior to the broadcast of this show was I contacted by VH1 or its parent company Viacom. At this time, I've received no communication from Viacom whatsoever about this.

I was quite aware that they were using my own not-for-profit work for commercial purposes and that they should have contacted me. But I didn't really care that they were doing that, either. It was just nice to see something that I had worked on getting seen and appreciated by a lot more people than what I had intended for a local audience. And I was glad that Melody Hallman Daniel, the voice-over actress in the spot, received some widespread notice of her considerable talent.

I was so proud that my commercial had been highlighted on Web Junk 2.0 that I posted the segment featuring it on YouTube so that I could put it on this blog, just like I'd posted the original commercial.

Did I think about the issue of copyright when I did that? Of course I did! But if this wasn't a matter of Fair Use, then I don't know how anything else would qualify it as such either. I made the original video, VH1 used it without my permission and I didn't particularly have a problem with that. I thought that they would have readily understood that were it not for my creativity and effort, that this edition of Web Junk 2.0 would have had to find some material elsewhere.

And then this morning the following e-mail arrives from YouTube:

Dear Member:
This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Viacom International Inc. claiming that this material is infringing:

Web Junk 2.0 on VH1 features my school board commercial!:

Please Note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to avoid future strikes against your account, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others. For more information about YouTube's copyright policy, please read the Copyright Tips guide.

If you elect to send us a counter notice, please go to our Help Center to access the instructions.

Please note that under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability.

YouTube, Inc.

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.

Folks, this is, as we say down here in the south, "bass-ackwards".

I have written to YouTube's division of copyright enforcement, telling them that the VH1 clip is derived from my own work and that I should be entitled to use it as such. So far I haven't heard anything back from them. After reading that last part of the initial e-mail that they sent me, I'm wondering how apt they might be to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to wipe out the accounts of anyone who even raises such a fuss about something like this, no matter how well-grounded it is.

What does this mean for independent producers of content, if material they create can be co-opted by a giant corporation without permission or apology or compensation? When in fact, said corporations can take punitive action against you for using material that you created on your own?

That's what's happening to me right now, folks. Viacom is penalizing me for using my own original material, which they used without permission to begin with.

I would really like to fight this as hard as I can. Unfortunately at the moment I lack the time and resources to do this on my own. I am also, admittedly, not an attorney. There's a good bit of knowledge of copyright law floating around in my gray matter, but it's not nearly enough to mount the challenge that I would like to levy against Viacom for doing this.

I want to publicly declare this: that I am not out for any money. Not a single penny. All I want is for the clip to be restored to its original address on YouTube. And I want it to be established that other creators of content have a right under Fair Use to show how their works are being appreciated in the wider world. I just want the rest of us who aren't affiliated with corporate media to have as much right to use our own work as "the big boys" enjoy for theirs.

Any inquiries or suggestions or anything else pertaining to the matter can be directed to me at theknightshift@gmail.com.

EDIT 8:22 p.m. EST: Want to see the forbidden video clip of Web Junk 2.0 using my TV commercial? Mash down here, grasshoppah! Special thanks to Richard Moore for hosting it!


The Bunkers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
forexpipwinner said...

My guess is that they used your material as legitimate "journalistic" material (i.e., they were quoting it to produce a journalistic piece)

Anonymous said...

The VH1 clip is clearly a derivative work from your own. You have every right to use the segment as its original creator.

Anonymous said...

You might want to take a look at the Do-It-Yourself Counter Notification Letter page.

PA said...

It's funny how they put the "I paid for this ad" at the end, seemed a little rude, also you may want to put some creative commons disclaimers on your site or something.

The whole thing just seems rude on Viacoms part, surely when someone found your clip on youtube they would have seen your other OG clips, maybe you could re-upload it with your own derivative commentary over the top, cut it up a little.

Or contact Viacom or something.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure any judge will side wih reason in this case. I mean, you can only apply the letter of the law so far without breaking the spirit of the law, and this is why judges get maneuvering room in handing down sentences.

I'd hate to see this happen to my own intellectual property (I just released a novel under a Creative Commons license).

On the other hand, with corporations often the left hand has no clue what the right hand does. Perhaps once they realize that you own IP which went into the episode you hosted, they will back down.


The Banjo Players Must Die

Anonymous said...

Listen to me pal sue them for 100 million in the court, there are a lot of people who can help you can end up a rich man and teach them a lesson. and and and for the advice you keep 99 and give me 1 million, ok deal or not......ha ha ha jus kiddin

Anonymous said...

they take your commercial from youTube or TV broadcast?

Anonymous said...

Call the EFF. This is the kinda thing they handle. Personally, I would sue the hell out of them and make it very public.

Anonymous said...


JB said...

also in the DCMA - you can sue for an illegal takedown. You can point this out to Google.

Anonymous said...


I just commented on this on Groklaw, but I'll repeat it here (for your convenience).

Having now seen an allegedly infringing copy of the segment of the show in question, I gather that the story's basically as follows.

First, you made your commercial, and put it up on YouTube. Then, Viacom included it in a show, with commentary (suggesting fair use), where basically they were saying, "Hey! Look at this guy's commercial!" And then you did likewise, copying that segment (just as they copied your commercial), where you said, "Hey! Look at this show's segment showing my commercial!" And they're accusing you of copyright infringement?

I'm no lawyer, but one idea (to ask a real lawyer about) is the following. Make another video in which you:-

1. describe this silly situation;
2. show their segment, with your own commentary added (on top or interspersed) - fair use;
3. put forward the obvious argument in your own defence;
4. put it up on YouTube;
5. and bring Viacom's attention to it.

Oh, and make sure you finish the new video with a rhetorical challenge to sue you, asking them to consider how the court would regard your defence argument in that video. The point, after all, would be to have the video such that if it were to be presented as evidence in a copyright infringement lawsuit, the video itself would point out the blatant hypocrisy of Viacom's actions to the court :-) (Perhaps cheeky, but you could include comments in the video actually addressed to the judge. "Your Honor, it's clear from Viacom's hypocrisy that they either have unclean hands, or must agree with my fair use defence...")

It would then be interesting to see how they respond. If, of course, the new video gets pulled, you could just make another, using the pulled video, but adding some extra stuff to do with that video getting pulled.

But, as I say, I'm not a lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Please submit this story to the fair use co-allition started by Google and other tech companies.

I forget the name and I don't have a link since I'm commenting from my blackberry.

Anonymous said...

I think you should sue the crap out of them.... You'd be teaching them a lesson, a lesson that says "ok. need to pay original owners, and/or give them rights to our usage of their product."

plus you'd take a bunch of their money, they'd do their research the next time they wanted to hit someone with copyright infringment.

Anonymous said...

I watch your copyright infringed video and your Ron Paul video. If this is all it takes to be an "independent filmmaker" then I'm a pornstar!

Anonymous said...

REMOVE THE DAMNED BLINK TAGS! I want to pass this URL around but that damned blinking is distracting as hell.

Anonymous said...

hey, just wanted to let you know.. saw you on reddit, went to subscribe to your feed, and then i realized you publish partial feeds. so i unsubscribed and i'll probably never read another word you write. partial feeds are the devil, dude.

Unknown said...

Wow, this is an incredible story.

I can't believe Viacom did this, and I hope that you will charge back against them. They have no rights over your IP, and make them know about it.

They wanna use DMCA for their profit, let's use it for their demise. :D

Anonymous said...

Great post , but why realy you have so poor design of your blog if you are designer ?

Anonymous said...

Your next video (should they consider playing it online again) should say that the video is approved by you FOR YOU, and NOT for Viacom unless they contact me first! :)

Anonymous said...

Counter-sue the pants off of them. This is a corporation that has made itself not on its own merits or ingenuity, but by suing others for patent, copyright, and trademark infringement. Counter-sue their asses

Unknown said...

What about the other YouTube segments that his show aired. Is there a class action suit from you and the other content producers against Viacom, showing mass abuse of copyright?

chris said...

i have seen youtube content used all over television. i am sure there some kind of fine print on youtube's site that says they can liscence anything uploaded. i do believe in fair use, but if this loophole exists it may save viacom if you were to take legal action. is it right and fair? no.

Anonymous said...

I would contact EFF or the ACLU to see whether they would assist or lead in a legal battle. Maybe contact Groklaw too.

Anonymous said...

Funny story, but you are being overdramatic. Send a DMCA counter-claim to Youtube. Google gives:



as help procedures, and Youtube tells you the help section of their websites explains you how to do it.

Anonymous said...

Youre not in it for the money?
Sue them and the donate it to charity...you will feel good, build up karma points and even more positive press.

Milk this baby, I dont know anyone who is against you, this is pretty clear.

Anonymous said...

Hate to break it to you -- but you assented to YouTube's sublicensing of your clip to Viacom when you agreed to their TOS (emphasis added):

"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."

You granted YouTube a license to prepare derivative works. YouTube may have sublicensed to Viacom -- and they created the derivative work. While they don't own the original copyright, they do own the copyright in the derivative work because you expressly authorized it -- and perversely, they may be within their legal rights to send you a takedown notice.

If possible, always read the terms before you sign (or click) your rights away.

Anonymous said...

I say bring suit against Viacom for compensation of the use of your commercial. In the suit state that your youtube video ran for so many minutes in a half hour(?) show and you require that percentage of profit that Viacom made from cable providers, corporate commercials, and any other revenue that may have been received by Viacom during the airing of that episode, as well as future episodes. They need to know that they are not exempt from the Digital Millennium Copy Right Act! This could be a great way to fund that next election term!

Anonymous said...

I agree that "fair use" protects your right to post the segment featuring your own work ... but your contention that Viacom is playing the hypocrite here is offbase.

The company needn't have contacted you to include your work in its story. You posted the video on a site that lets anyone, including Viacom, use it without contact you. That's the point of video-sharing sites like YouTube. If you don't want people repackaging and using your content without permission, don't post it on a site that lets them do so.

Anonymous said...

We don't know what rights Viacom had to make a derivative work...did they contact YouTube and get a license to use the work?

In any case, even if ViaCom has such a license, I think there is a good element of hypocrisy involved.

I think that raising this issue publicly and possibly in court would be a good thing. Most people using YouTube aren't lawyers and don't understand the rights they are giving up.

Brandon Crawford Smith said...

So you copyrighted this material when you made these advertisements?

Did you register them for fair use?

Publishing the material (in this case airing the ads on television) does not automatically establish copyright.

Television shows (on conglomerate owned stations) are always copyrighted before publication.

If you had copyrighted your matierial, then why would you place it on the web?

I hope you learn a lesson in copyright from this at least...

Unknown said...

Of note, the terms on YouTube's site state the following. It is clear that Viacom's use was NOT of a personal nature.

Section 5 "Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only and may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed, sold, licensed, or otherwise exploited for any other purposes whatsoever without the prior written consent of the respective owners."

B. You may access User Submissions solely:

* for your information and personal use;
* as intended through the normal functionality of the YouTube Service; and
* for Streaming.

There is some question as to whether YouTube had the right to license content. That appears to be the agreement.

So what I would do is contact YouTube or their parent google. And request an inquiry as to whether your video was licensed by Viacom.

If it was licensed, the case may be hard. But if it was NOT licensed from YouTube. Than you probably have a good case.

If they argue that their mere use of commentary made it fair use.
I'd then post a number of Viacom videos with "commentary" about the video. Perhaps a text bar underneath making the comments. Thus you could argue that such commentated videos of theirs fall into fair use. And that you will be launching a website called "Video Commentary" that features all of Viacom's videos with commentaries.

Anonymous said...

Viacom was built on lawsuits and copyright abuse.

Their hypocrisy doesn't matter as they are usually right in assuming that punks like you won't have the resources to fight them.

; said...

Question No 1: You aren't a jew right? I mean the discrimination clearly proves that :)- I was unsure after seeing that Yiddish quote

Q 2: You go man..go kick their arses to Baltimore and Justin Timberlake video-shoots.

Rob GTX said...

Enough of the lawsuits for now. Here is what you should do. Make a video of yourself watching the video from VH1 on TV. Add in a few comments about how ridiculous Viacom's claim is, but do not tread into the territory of slander.

Next post this video on YouTube and promote it through all the typical "rant" sites del.icio.us, slashdot, etc.

Next write a book about the whole experience.

Anonymous said...

The submission terms on Youtube grant them a NONEXCLUSIVE license, which means that copyright ownership is not transferred (even exclusive licenses don't necessarily mean copyright ownership gets transferred, but that's not applicable since that's not Youtube's policy). So even if Viacom was legally allowed to copy the stuff off Youtube without asking for permission from the original author, they had _NO_ right to request that the original author's material be taken down because they never held the copyright on it in the first place.

Anonymous said...

forget about YouTube, they are doing the right thing.

focus entirely on Viacom, you need to bring up the point that they have now profited off your content. this is perfect grounds for a case. get the EFF involved, and you should probably ping Lawrence Lessig on it too...

Unknown said...

What does "I mean the discrimination clearly proves that [you're not Jewish]" mean?

Unknown said...

Well, here is it is from a copyright perspective as I understand it.

When you signed up to an account with Youtube you agreed to their terms of use. Namely, in 6.c. you gave them a license to anything you post:
"... 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..."

So, what does this mean? It means you own the work and Youtube (that is Google) has a license from you to use it pretty much as they see fit, including the option to sublicense it to Viacom. Given the state of relations between Viacom and Google, it is not likely, IMHO, that Viacom created a derivative work of your work without a license from Youtube/Googe to do so. However, it's certainly possible.

Whether or not Viacom has a sublicense from Google, your ownership of the original work does not give you any ownership of the derivative work. You can just bar them from using the original in the derivative. Unless they have a license to it (which seems likely), in which case, they own the derivative and you don't and can't stop them from using it.

Now you do have the ability under the terms you agreed to to cancel the license you gave them by deleting the videos from the site. So, if you do that, Viacom would have no license to create a derivate and you could bar them from using it. Unfortunately, it still does not give you ownership or a license to use their work (even if it is a derivative of your) in your site / post to youtube.

The bottom line is, you are more or less out of luck in terms of controlling your content once you post it to youtube. I have probably given someone a license to these very words here once i submit them...

Your beef, if any, is with Viacom, not Youtube. Youtube got a take down notice and they had to follow it. You can tell Viacom to stop using it, but can't use their work (legally at least).

tlcoffee said...

I recommend contacting the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation, www.eff.org)

Anonymous said...

I understand your reluctance to sue, or seek a single penny. And I agree to a point. But let's look at it this way:

I'm guessing you, like most of us reading this, want two things:
1. To protect both the access to, and creators of, valid and legal content.
2. To stop corporations from abusing copyright law, and using it to harass and intimidate individuals.

Most individuals do not have the time or money to defend themselves against Big Business and usually remove the supposedly offending content. In the case of a lawsuit, the costs in time, money and lost wages can be staggering.

Companies such as Viacom and Google will not change their practices unless they are punished. Big Business is only punished in one way, by taking money out of their pockets.

You should sue the pants off both Viacom for infringement, and Google for illegal takedown. Encourage them to re-evaluate policies and follow the letter of the law. Take the proceeds from those lawsuits and start a defense fund, or donate it to the EFF to defend others. Hit them twice with one blow and defend the little guy.

- Hardley C. Cure

Rich Pearson said...

Incredible story and further evidence of why an objective view of Fair Use is desperately needed.

The two sides are blowing so much smoke at each other right now that it must stop.

I wrote a recent post on the Attributor blog about this issue. Your story seems like a classic example for the defend fair use folks.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line with all this Intellectual Proporty Protection is Corporations are the only ones with enough money to exercise it and believe everything we think or dream up is theirs to use and profit from. I can't wait for the ball to drop on society. A little anarchy is no different than over bought stock market correction. Maybe then we can correct the warped tilt that we're experiencing.


Anonymous said...

"So you copyrighted this material when you made these advertisements?"

The material doesn't have to be copyrighted. It is copyrighted.

As an original work, the author has copyright to the work and doesn't have to do anything.

"Did you register them for fair use?"

What? Fair Use is part of copyright law. There is no registering for Fair Use.

"Publishing the material (in this case airing the ads on television) does not automatically establish copyright."

The author of the work has copyright protection *before* it was published as already stated.

"Television shows (on conglomerate owned stations) are always copyrighted before publication."

There is no difference between a Television show and an independent work they all have the same copyright protection.

"If you had copyrighted your matierial, then why would you place it on the web?"

If you have to ask this question, then you probably won't understand the answer.

"I hope you learn a lesson in copyright from this at least..."

The first step is to understand your subject. Once that is established, then you may understand that the copyright owners work was infringed upon by Viacom.
Essentially there was no permission given to use the work in the first place.

So the work was used without permission and incorporated into another work. It is like creating a webpage and using pictures that you didn't take for part of the content.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

You create a piece of "art"...
Somehow, it gets out to YouTube...
THAT is a copyright violation all by itself...I know you said, "I don't mind", and if that is the case, you need to hit YouTube with a letter having your copyrighted stuff removed...then upload it yourself.
Then it appears on someone's tv show? THAT is a copyright violation, and you need to pursue it as well...
Then, if Viacom is saying that it belongs to them, have them prove it in court as you sue the pants off them...
Actually, this isn't a bad idea...
Sue for 100,000,000 and then it will settle, out of court, for 10,000,000, and you will get them to pay royalties for using your content or removing your content from their production...
You have so many legal rights in this case, it isn't funny...
So long as you are really the original copyright holder...
I'd go for it...

Anonymous said...

I think you should set up a paypal to raise funds for a lawyer. you can sue viacom and win. DMCA works both ways.

Ill pitch in to help serve some just desserts to a faceless conglomerate.

Anonymous said...

They have to put your video back up or Viacom must sue you. This is part of the Terms on YouTube's website. Under the DMCA section, after submitting a counter notice...

"Unless the copyright owner files an action seeking a court order against the content provider, member or user, the removed content may be replaced, or access to it restored, in 10 to 14 business days or more after receipt of the counter-notice, at YouTube's sole discretion."

In the verbage noted here, Viacom would be the copyright holder and you would be the content provider, even though it's really the other way around.

Anonymous said...

(continued) That means you win either way, they put it back up, or you have your day in court to make Viacom look stupid.

Anonymous said...

I'd definitely look for some pro bono legal council, or talk to a local law school to see if there interested in taking it on for student experience. And at the very least keep blogging about updates, and you traffic will continue to grow :)

McClain Shewman said...

Ted Turner is behind this madness!

Anonymous said...

Viacom can claim that you were using their video segment without permission; in other words, the broadcast segment shown. The fact that your work was embedded in the content is a separate issue.

Viacom should state that you can always place your original content on YouTube and they would have no claim on taking that content down from the site. But their content (i.e. the clip from their show and the black dude popping up) belongs to them, notwithstanding what belongs to you.

Good Luck anyway, on your side.

Anonymous said...

Fuck VH1. They're not even funny. The only entertaining parts in that program are the actual clips they use in the show. Oh, oh, here's a funny clip. And here's an unfunny fat man to make snarky comments. VH1 you so edgy and relevant! :O
Fuck media companies' hubris and their uninteresting no-content shit programs. :)

Anonymous said...

At the very least,
1. Send Viacom a DMCA take down notice to stop using your Content. This will cause your work not to be showed on VH1 anymore, however that fruit has been squeezed and your not loosing an audience over it now. This will also allow you to gauge Viacom's reaction.
A. They may ignore it completely and then you sue them by following step 2
B. They send you a counter notice (that will probably be huge) and you can dig through that
C. Or they may comply and you can still sue them for using your content before that by using using the information in step 2.

2. Make notes of everytime that segment aired and continues to air

Anonymous said...

You, sir, are lose. You have no hope of getting any recompense because while you do have a copyright in your work, you can get nothing more than an injunction until said work is registered with the copyright office.

Anonymous said...

Oh the irony...

Doug said...

VH1 used it without my permission and I didn't particularly have a problem with that

Nor should you, considering that Web Junk's use of the clip is well within the guidelines of Fair Use.

Anonymous said...

Also, if they do C, then it makes things much easier. By complying and not showing your content anymore they're acknowledging that you're the copyright holder. This gives you tons of leverage.

And last thing, as someone else said, it's nice on principle to sue not for money, but your not going to get their attention that way. They only understand one thing.


Hurt their bottom line and you'll turn their heads.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately you are legally required to make at lease a minimum effort to protect your own copyright, so while you may be able to defend your use of your own work, if you did not try to stop Viacom from using your material, you may be SOL. Check with your attorney because personally, I'd love to see you sue their assets off. :)

raster said...

And that's why you read the Terms of Service... I think things would be "much* different if you had posted the videos on your own site, or on a site that allows you to control the license (blip.tv, Ourmedia) instead of granting the license you did to YouTube... After reading the YouTube Terms of Service, do you still think you have a chance, and didn't give away the rights?

Unknown said...

Don't fight it. Let Viacom set the precedent, accept it, then get all the viacom media you can get your hands on and crop your voice over in the beginning saying "A Chris Knight Re-dub". Now, since you modified it slightly, it is officially yours based on the precedent they set. They cannot harrass you about it nor do you need their permission to do it. Essentially, you can take credit for VH1, but who would want to do that anyway?

Anonymous said...

When you're making an argument for education, spelling really should count. The possessive of the word ``it'' is ``its''. You use the apostrophe in ``it's'' as a contraction of ``it is''. So ``its VH1 show'' is the proper way to write that. I guess you got left behind.

Anonymous said...

freakin' ridiculous that all it takes is a letter from Viacom for Youtube to roll over on you. No evidence, no substantiating that claim, just an allegation.

Come to think of it, maybe if enough people posted copyrighted material on Youtube and the like, we could cripple the Viacom's of this world with their own legal fees.

Kenya said...

To me this is no different that including a screenshot of a website saying "Hey look! Website.com featured me today." Oh crap, I just thought of something. Do screenshots violate copyrights?

Eric said...

All I have to say is... wow.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately you are legally required to make at lease a minimum effort to protect your own copyright"

Untrue-- that's a trademark you're talking about. A copyright you can selectively enforce and not enforce however you choose.

The Terms of Use do say that they can sub-license it to whoever they want, but like someone else said I doubt Google is making any licensing deals with Viacom.

The Terms of Use also say that if you take down the work then the license is terminated after a "commercially reasonable time". So if you took your original piece down they would be forced to stop using it (if Viacom ever had a license in the first place). That doesn't really solved your originally problem though.

Anonymous said...

I consulted my magic 8 ball and believe you will inherit a great sum of money. :)

Telemill said...

I agree with anonymous above me. This is a clear violation on Viacom's part. Any intellectual properties attorney will jump on this. Call your state's "Lawyer's for the Arts" organization and they can direct you to an attorney that will take this case for a percentage.

Viacom kind of mess-up with this one. I'm sure they have a kid on board that their entire job to hunt down incidents like this . . . the problem, they really need to LOOK at the video clip that they are citing. In your case, it's a video clip that you original created (oops! - they didn't look). Basically, they just ran the protocols and now they are in deep doo-doo. And hope that you don't make a stink about it.

Make that stink.

Anonymous said...

As strange as it might sound, VIACOM has the rights to stop you from posting the segment. It is called broadcasters' right.

Basically it means you cannot videotape some broadcast and sell it, even if the copyright on the broadcast had lapsed.

I know this because at present, there is a lot of heat on WIPO revision of this right.

Of course you can always leverage your own copyright to get VIACOM to allow you to post the stuff on YouTube. That is, assuming VIACOM went beyond fair-use.

Chris Knight said...

"Basically it means you cannot videotape some broadcast and sell it, even if the copyright on the broadcast had lapsed."

I wasn't selling it though. Haven't made a cent off of it in any way at all. I don't want to make any money off of it even now. I just want to be able to show the clip that they produced from my own material on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Whether you think Web Junk is "news" or not, but news reporting is specifically one of the reasons why Fair Use exists. The main point being that the segment was designed to report on and draw attention to your work, and not supercede it by airing it in its entirety or making the viewing of your original unnecessary through its airing. If there's any arguing to do, it'd be there.

Now, if you had posted your response video as a reply/report on the VH1's airing using new footage and clips of theirs, I would see a problem with that takedown. But since what *was* posted was a portion of their show as it literally aired on VH1, there's nothing (legally) wrong that Viacom did.

Skibonk said...

Is it possible that YouTube Sublicensed directly to Viacom and left you out of the equation?

From YouTube's Terms of Use Policy:

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. The above licenses granted by you in User Videos terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your User Videos from the YouTube Service. You understand and agree, however, that YouTube may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of User Submissions that have been removed or deleted. The above licenses granted by you in User Comments are perpetual and irrevocable.

Unknown said...

but would the title / comments on the youTube page indicating the piece from VH1 on my commercial qualify as a report?

Viacom was wrong. Dead wrong. If they are not legally wrong, the law needs to change.

Matt Hendry said...

There are penalties for posting frivloas and baseless demands under the DMCA and you should investigate those and ask for a full retraction by Viacom and a wirtten apology at the least .

Anonymous said...

please please please sue viacom to hell. Make viacom feel what they do to others. And probably make a few bucks at the same time.

Unknown said...

It's quite possible that the entire action by Viacom was conducted by an automated process. In ther words, Viacom has a program that scans YouTube for key words, which then provides a link to some lacke to ruberstamp and send out a copyright infringment notification. It's quite possible that at no point in the process did an intelligent human being make a decision on whether or not the material actually infringed copyright before the notice was sent out. ;)

Roch101 said...


I'd contact Google legal. This situation may be of interest to them as they defend against Viacom's suit that claims:

“YouTube has harnessed technology to willfully infringe copyrights on a huge scale, depriving writers, composers and performers of the rewards they are owed.”

Unknown said...

"I just want to be able to show the clip that they produced from my own material on my blog."

You could probably get away with hosting it yourself and not on YouTube. Heck, you could even get permission if it's okay to host it and put it on your blog. Viacom takes any clips of their shows off YouTube.

They also didn't need your permission, you gave YouTube/Google permission to let whoever they saw fit use your video when you hosted it. Next time, read what you agree to.

Anonymous said...

Just cuz ViaCom uses your content (all copyright aside), it does not give them the right to force you to take it down UNLESS OF COURSE you are streaming the VH1 airing of the video. Period. Most likely a case of someone at ViaCom shooting off early...which in your case may get you a written apology but hey...SHOW ME THE MONEY!

Anonymous said...

If only there was an EFF'ing organization that could EFF'ing stop these mother EFF'ers!


Anonymous said...

Didn't Viacom sue over the Colbert Report "falsiness" spoof? I'm no lawyer, one could make a good case that if Viacom argued they own the rights to the Colbert Report such that any new material constitutes infringement it's hypocritical for them to sue you. I know Viacom eventually backed down, but if nothing else you have evidence of previous abuse of the DMCA.

That's my 2c. Good luck, man.

John Edwards said...

Chris, I do hope you go after them, if for no reason other than to wake them up. Viacom is known for this kind of BS, they've done it before, and unless they start getting taken to court over it, they will continue.

I'm not convinced if what they did with your work is considered fair use, because I believe (and I could well be wrong) that only portions of the work can be used in such a manner, and it looks like they used your entire video.

The clip they had taken down, seems well within the fair use because the majority of it was still your video, even though it was aired by their network. Only a small part was Viacom's work.

Consult a lawyer at the very least. If you're not after money, someone else suggested donating to charity, which would be a cool thing to do.

Whatever you do, good luck.


Unknown said...

here is the http://www.chillingeffects.org counter-notice generator,


good luck

Anonymous said...

Brandon: You do not have to register copyright in order for copyright law to apply. Didn't you ever bother reading up about it? Registering copyright is merely a formality and helps you make your case if you ever have to defend it in court. If you can prove when you created the work, however, registration is completely unnecessary.

Jim March said...

OK. First thing, go READ the DMCA.

Because you have an option, called a "counter notification", as others have mentioned. When Diebold Election Systems tried to take my site down under the DMCA, I filed one successfully and I believe the Chillingeffects site has mine on record. My original:


Unknown said...

As always, corporations have proven that they only believe in the law when it benefits them to do so, and in intellectual property rights only when they can make a profit off of it.

Screw suing them, you can't win no matter how much you contribute. Instead, attack them in the one place that matters: their bottom line. Organize a boycott. Encourage hackers to harass messageboards and websites owned by Viacom. Assist in piracy efforts. Embarass them with the truth.

The only way we can ever convince corporations that we don't appreciate their behavior is to hurt them as hard and as deeply as our little plebian bodies are capable of. Viva la revolution!

Anonymous said...

Dude, it is very simple. Just file the counter-notice.

Youtube are not the bad guys here. They are just following the law. All you have to do is follow the law to, and write them a simple letter called a counter-notice, and your video can go back up.

Basically, the dispute is between you and Viacom. Youtube is caught in the middle, and just protecting themself.

Don't "write their copyright guy". Just file the frigging notice and be done with it.

Unknown said...

So, if I go see a movie in the theaters, film the whole thing and post it online. Can I sue the movie company for showing it in theaters there after? Because that how it seems.

Anonymous said...

Just republish your original video. Hardly anyone watches TV anymore anyway.

Steve Collins said...

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.

Thomas Tvivlaren said...

This is a perfect example of how laws concerning copyright and intellectual property are outdated and need to be reformed/abolished.

This is also a perfect example on how the big "rights-holders" might dig their own grave when confirming beyond any doubts that the forementioned is a fact of the informationera and a fact to adjust to!

Keep fighting this and rest assured the entire world is watching!

Cheers from Sweden and The Pirate Party!

Thomas Tvivlaren said...

"The only way we can ever convince corporations that we don't appreciate their behavior is to hurt them as hard and as deeply as our little plebian bodies are capable of. Viva la revolution!"

Roland: I agree that we should indeed raise our voices and speak out and fight this kind of absurdity. I disagree though to do it in ways that will, in the long run, harm our goals. Hacking sites etc is such a thing that will only do harm in the long run... Speak your word, blog, organize boycotts, mention the inadequacies and injustices the concerned companies and lobbyists are committing in every which way you can!

Anonymous said...

You may tru to get some help form EFF (http://www.eff.org).

Unknown said...

Just take *their* "journalistic piece" and embed it into a new "journalistic piece" of your own.

Effectively, you could just take the clip that they took down and re-post the exact same thing (but with a 5 second title screen/voiceover at the start explaining how the following video is an example of Viacom's perceived hypocrisy when it comes to copyright).

Then you could link to it from this page... and the clip would be back on YouTube with more hits than ever... and totally legitimate :)

Anonymous said...

You have got to contact the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Anonymous said...

I'm liking this whole situation, I'm afraid. It's refreshing to see a communications enterprise falling down on its eponymous role. I can't imagine Viacom going out of its way to make contact or amends, and they can afford to put off any difficulties. I sympathise with you and your content, and I wish you the best in fighting this moral battle.


Anonymous said...

On another note, your comment form doesn't seem to work with Firefox. You might want to look into that.

All the best,

Anonymous said...

I cant bloody believe that... Go to your local news agency, sue them, make it as public as possible. The Inquirer already has your story it will move from there. Get those dirty bastards at Viacom. They stole your work and claim it as their own. I know of no greater insult, for the sake of your honor make sure this engagement with Viacom has a worthy ending.

Good luck friend

Anonymous said...

Stab them with a blunt spoon!

ryan said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this by now, but the DMCA creates a procedure for exactly this kind of situation. Viacom has exercised its statutory rights in sending a takedown notification. Now you should simply exercise your statutory rights and send a counter-notification.

Go here, where YouTube explains the procedure for doing this. Various users have been successful at getting their content reuploaded in the past, though this does seem to be a rather unique case.

Anonymous said...

I have been banned from Youtube by order of the evil corporation Viacom. I posted short clips of a many years old show that will now be forgotten because Viacom is too greedy and bureaucratic for its own good! //ophiax

Anonymous said...

I'm sure we are all impressed with your nobility in not requesting any money, but I think strategically that is the wrong move. You need to realize that the only way to affect a massive conglomerate is the only place where shareholders and board members will notice, and that's their bottom line. Once they have lost a couple million dollars to lawsuits they will enact policy to prevent future unwarranted loss of capital, and that trickle down will ultimately mean that the little guy is better off. Sue the crap out of them.

Anonymous said...

The thing you are missing is that neither party could have infringed on each other's property without Youtube. Youtube is basically a web-based version of a sketchy black market. Sure they might mean to just promote independent works, such as your Star Wars piece(which is exempt from copyright law based on th fact that is a parody). But the fact of the matter is that the input from illegal uploads, which some might argue Youtube relies on, is far greater than the resources that are necessary for the company to properly police its own content. Viacom in the other hand has the means to legally challenge any entity when it feels the necessity to do so. The amount of content that has been taken from them is well over the amount of content that could ever be taken from you. Remember Youtube gives you the ability to showcase any content you upload but it does not provide you any legal protection. If you wanted to use the clip from Webjunk you should have contacted VH1, just as they should have contacted you. The problem is that since you voluntarily uploaded your clip into a notoriously illegal playground, they probably consider your clip to be in public domain.

Unknown said...

You are embarrassing yourself by cliaming that Viacom infrigned on anything. You may want to read YouTube's TOS before posting something. Youtube transferred the rights to Viacom. That is within their rights. You then took the VH-1 show, which is copyright infringement. You are still free to post your clip. But not the VH-1 show's clip.
If you feel the need to blame someone, blame yourself and Google.

Unknown said...

And to all the commenters...PLEASE stop giving this guy terrible advice liek that he should sue, or send a coutner notice challenging hte take down notice. He has NO basis for a lawsuit, nor to keep the clip of the VH-1 show on his site. Believe it or not, Viacom, and Google have lawyers who know FAR more about the law that you do. As for the idiots saying "No one watches TV anymore anyway." well, that is just stupid. Far more people watch TV than do what you think is fun to do.

Anonymous said...

"But would the title/comments on the YouTube page indicating the piece from VH1 on my commercial qualify as a report?"

No. I'm sorry that you're taking this so personally, but you're mixing contexts.

An article about the piece being on VH1 is a creative work of text.

A video report of the piece being on VH1 with clips from the broadcast is a creative work of video.

But what you're defending is both: somehow your surrounding text work exempts the copyright of the video?

If that's so, then any copyrighted work could be infringed upon by simply writing a "report" shell around it and sticking it online. I think you'd agree that's not a good idea.

Seriously, just do what Oliver said, and recraft it as a video report.

Money Marketing Solutions said...

This is really sad and very annoying, the big companies are really being unfair when the behave like this.
I know how you feel. I hope You Tube looks into this and allows fairness to decide.

ab said...

Stumbled and digged.

I hope you get coverage for this important issue. If you can think of anything the community can do to support you, let us know. I'll keep checking back.

Anonymous said...

It was kind of a dick thing to do on Viacom's part, but since you clearly infringed on George Lucas' copyright I doubt you have much of a case.

Anonymous said...

Send the good people at www.consumerist.com an email. They might be able to help you out.

Milton Stanley said...

Anon beat me to this comment, but let's do take it back one more step with this question:

Is Mr. Knight's use of the imperial cruiser and death star a violation of George Lucas' Star Wars copyrights?

Layer upon layer, it would seem.

Anonymous said...

I am not thoroughly familiar with US copyright laws. However, it seems that (as many before me have told, in more words perhaps) legally, you're wrong. Their use of your product qualifies as Fair Use. But the product they aired is a copyrighted material on its own, the copyright of which has nothing binding it with the copyright of yours. So, unless you post a video on youtube where you comment on their product, you are infringing on the DMCA, for you have copied their material not for personal use, but for public showing.

Legit Freebies Guy said...

Wow, talk about the pot calling the kettle black, eh?

Anonymous said...

It is unpleasant, but Viacom is 100% in the right from a legal standpoint. You need to read and understand your Terms and Conditions for posting on YouTube, which basically grants YouTube limited distribution rights on your videos, which they can exercise for promotional purposes. By allowing VH1 to air your video--which exists at the same time as content on YouTube's copyrighted website--YouTube essentially has promoted its website. (Viacom probably pays YouTube a nominal fee for this, which is one reason why a site like YouTube is profitable.)

The bottom line is that Viacom owns the WebJunk 2.0 clip in its entirety because they acquired the right to use your video. They will win in court--and if they don't, they will appeal until they do win. Broadcast corporations are very protective of their content, and they lobby lawmakers to see things their way.

Also, Fair Use does not apply because--except within the field of education--you can only reproduce a small portion of copyrighted material for the purpose of commentary. (Think of sports highlights--which are actually only as extensive as they are because news organizations subscribe to show the content.)

DarkMantle said...

Ok, simple solution.

They used about 1 minute of footage that you paid for. And they made money for it.

Send them a notice that states that you want 1/22 of the profits made from that episode. As they used 1 minute of your footage, and the show is approximately 22 minutes long.

Anonymous said...

so what does george lucas thnk of your using his "original ideas" in your commercial? did you get permission to use the "death star" "tie ighter" and other "start wars" artifacts? whose the real hippocrate here?

Anonymous said...

What's a hippocrate?

Anonymous said...

A hippocrate, besides a way to ship large water dwelling mammals, is someone who believes he actually owns a copyright on a parody. Youtube basically gives away your clip in any way and form. The only thing this guy actually owns is the idea of making fun of star wars with this very specific idea, not the actual clip. And the only way he could sue is if they REMADE the clip for financial gain without giving him credit.

Anonymous said...

Counter sue. It'd be great PR for you and a lovely way to invite Viacom to make itself look even more ridiculous. My content gets ripped by TV a lot, but I'm happy about that. However if I decided to post an excerpt (which I've done) and got one of those letters I'd go NUTS.wi

hoobular said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

sue their butts!

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing...
1) they had no right to use your content without your permission, but

2) you have no right to use their content without permission, UNLESS you can claim fair use (e.g. incorporating a short clip into a larger piece for purposes of commentary, parody etc.)

Both apply! If you only incorporated your material in the YouTube clip, without the VH1 commentary, that should be ok, since it's just a copy of something to which you own copyright. Aries Spears' comments, however, are Viacom's, and you can't post it without permission. Yes, this is stupid, but it's also law as it stands today. The fact that they improperly used your work does not give you a right to do use their work.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous.

Heze the man!

Anonymous said...

Viacomm made a huge mistake putting your video on Webjunk. Not because of copyright issues, but because they thought your video was meant to be serious. And that's the only way that crap could have been funny. You sir don't have a tenth of the talent Aries Spears has. I'm not a fan of him by any means but at least he made his fame like any other comedian, by working hard at comedy shows and auditions. You are getting your fifteen minutes because you are either too lazy or too dumb to read the disclaimers where you post your "comedy". This ranting about Viacomm infringing on your work only adds to the proof that you are heavily detached from reality. It must be great to live in a world where you think your nerdy hack self is funny enough to film, but funny enough that a cable show would steal it. You are no better than "The Star Wars Kid". He was funny, unintentionally. At least the "Numa Numa Kid" was tongue in cheek. So my opinion: go ahead and make a big deal out of this. I look forward to seeing you ridicule yourself with these silly claims. You can be the "copyright infringement kid".

Anonymous said...

Ignore the anonymous twit right above me. He's a loser who wouldn't know which end of a camera to point at what he's shooting. Personally I think you've got a load of talent and a great warped sense of humor. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I know exactly where to point a camera; away from that monchichi looking nerd. Personally Joel, I think you must not get out much if you find that nerd funny or original.

Anonymous said...

There are problems with the DMCA and your case illustrates it brilliantly. Good luck with this.

Anonymous said...

Stopped reading comments when no one pointed out that you are guilty of copyright infringement to Lucas Arts and/or Industrial Light and Magic. I'm sure you asked them if you could use that 'footage'. Sure, go public with it. Lose your shirt. Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

If you don't want money, then you're doing the right thing. As mentioned, if George gets wind of this.. hold onto your hat. They sue almost as much as that metallurgic band that suck. I say you need money. If you're trying to sue for copyright, when your GUILTY of it before it ever happened...wow. You need a LOT of money. For that edumacation thinga magig. You know.. book learnin!

Anonymous said...

copyright isn't necessarily the crime viacom have commitied (If they have gained persmission from YouTube), the fact is Viacom has informed a third party that you have committed a crime, which you have not as you own the copyright on your own original work...

That is defamation and in most countries is an civil offence to which the subject of such defemation can sue.

You may even own the copyright in the deriviative works, at least the parts of your making - Viacom may (or may not) have a licence to use it from YouTube.

If you revoke the licence the terms and conditions have granted to YouTube, then the licence YouTube has granted to Viacom, if they have, should no longer be valid.

Also terms and conditions can be unawful, they are just put in because most people don't know otherwise. Ultimatly does clicked an I agree button constitute a creastion of a contract based on the terms and conditions? If not the terms and conditions are meaning less. Do terms and conditions break existing legistation? if so they are unlawful and meaning less.

Anonymous said...

get youtube to tell you if they have given rights to Viacom for your clip. If they don't threaten to take them to court to reveal whether thay have or not as you own your own work and the right to grant the licence;

Also the stuff in the above post is intresting, even though you have agreed to terms and conditions, the terms themselves may not be lawful (i.e. they can't really do what they say). I know in the UK this can be the case, for example I know the clause in my Contract for work states that I can not work for a similar company for a year after leaving; I also know this clause is unlawful and it can not be enforced, the company only put it in there because most people don't know any better.

Anonymous said...

"Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only and may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, broadcast, displayed, sold, licensed, or otherwise exploited for any other purposes whatsoever without the prior written consent of the respective owners."

Chris Paul said...

1. Sue YouTube for being such cowards

2. Stick the thing up using other platforms

3. Do add a list of all the bits and bobs you've borrowed in your video making career

4. Think of say another 29 "infringements" you can attempt and make a book/film/musical of the whole shebang when you have enough

5. Seems to me that Viacom may be showing a fantastic sense of humour here, YouTube are the idiots - Viacom would never have expected YT to comply ... but they did

Anonymous said...

Looks as if George Lucas didn't mind since his website for teachers linked to Chris' commercial and gave it high praise.

Anonymous said...

Easy. Youtube is publicly shared "creative" media (that's why we use it, right?), VIACOM's media is private, copyright"ed" material. But ANY judge will dismiss their case against you.

Anonymous said...

Chris Knight's videos ARE copyrighted. If you create something original it's automatically copyrighted. He didn't surrender copyright because he put them on Youtube.

This is like the copyright legal version of that scene in Reservoir Dogs where everyone is shooting at everyone else.

Anonymous said...

I read about halfway down the comments section before posting, so forgive any redundancy in this post, but there are a few key things here...
I have actually looked into copyright law- for my own purposes (even speaking to an intellectual property rights lawyer) And the key thing is, as soon as you put your idea to paper/video/voice recording- whatever- you hold copyright to that work. While registering your copyright strengthens it, honestly, in your case, copyright is pretty clear- you made the original video, it features you, you stated in the video that you PAID for it...You own the copyright on that video. As far as how to handle what Viacom did-regardless of whether you are "after money" or not, consult an Intellectual Property Rights lawyer, figure out how much you can get out of Viacom for their illegal profiting from your original content, and SUE THEM! How are you gonna pay for this lawyer you ask? Don't. Make Viacom pay for it. I would talk to your counsel about this when you do your consult, but I'm pretty sure that, beyond the actual rights suit, you can also sue for the the fees related to the case (legal counsel, court cost, time lost from work in prsuit of the case). If you do that, maybe that'll learn the greedy corporate bosses from bullying people into not being able to use their own stuff.

Anonymous said...

Crying shame what the entertainment giants are doing to our nation's culture and people. We should form a government and pass laws to regulate what they can do. Oh, wait. Yeah. Huh. I guess we should just relax and enjoy it, then? Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

The only reason they steal people's stuff is because they have no good ideas.

Anonymous said...

Put your own commentary over the VH1 clip making it your derivative work and post that on youtube/your blog.

Viacom has a right to their work... albeit a derivative of your work, which they likely obtained through sublicense with youtube/google and have a right to use, but none the less...

so take it back, make it your work again... a parody of a parody of a parody.

/wipes hands

Anonymous said...

Sorry for calling you a nerd. Go ahead and steal all you like.

makuahine said...

I hope you take them for all they're worth, or at least a big chunk of change. These jokers need to learn they can't keep taking advantage of "the little guy" and get away with it.

Anonymous said...

I myself am an animator, and digital cartoonist. The fact that they used your copyrighted works without noticing you, the author is bad enough, but to show your face on international TV and RIDICULE your work is an INSULT. This is no longer just about copyright infringement.

I’d hurt them if I were you. I’d hurt them bad. There’s nothing like taking the story straight to the competition. They’d probably love you to bits for it too

Anonymous said...

Er.. NOT for profit...?

There ARE other ways to profit besides the obvious financial means. The original purpose of the ad was to get yourself elected for a stint on the county board of educaction.

On the other hand... I'm surprised that the lawyers from Lucasfilm and/or 20th Century Fox and/or Kenner haven't been beating their way to your door with legal papers - given the props used in your commercial are obviously from Star Wars and the scene you created is awfully close to scenes in Episode 4...

Mayhap it's a question of the pot calling the kettle black...?

Anonymous said...

I have read enough US and International Copyright cases. Using work from another for informational purposes, be it in whole or in part is legal based on the fact that the user of the content can prove it was necessary to use the amount they did. Not seeing the peice, I con't not state if the peice, copyrighted material was infringed. If they used all of the piece, they would have a hard time proving this in a court. You posting the Viacom is a infrigement, sorry to say, you have to include it in your own material, by creating a new peice of your own product to use Viacoms video/content. Your right to complain about Vicaom. They should pay on a per frame bases, by the fact they can't prove all your video was needed for their show. If I understand they did use all the video piece as I understand? I hope.

IStudios said...

First of all, why the HELL did you post your original video on YouTube? How stupid is that?

Posted on your OWN website, THEN you might have a leg to stand on.

The way you told your story makes this affair seem bizarre and funny.

But the way you handled the whole thing, sorry, you essentially gave away your rights and now you basically have none. Go ahead, consult a lawyer and see what he says.

Listen to those sue-happy clowns up there and you'll end up in deeper trouble, my friend. Like someone said, these big corporations have whole armies of lawyers who know far, far more than any of us in here.

Let's put aside your 'noble' gesture of making a non-profit video, and also put aside your further 'noble' intent of not wanting any money for this. This is suspicious in and of itself. Makes me wonder if you're feeling guilty about something.

And look at the facts.

1. Your video was and is original and you still own the copyright to it, yes. That is, your ORIGINAL video. Not the second one you recorded off of VH1 cable.

2. YouTube is a free public Internet domain / website belonging to Google. Owners of free public sites expectedly will have strict rules and guidelines for users, and sweeping disclaimers and indemnities, in order to protect their own positions.

3. VH1 belongs to Viacom, which is a private commercial entity. In order to use its media, you need to pay for it. In other words, they are NOT free public media.

You are mixing up the two and lumping them together, brother. They are VERY different, work in different ways and have different laws covering them.

4. You put your original video up onto a free public site, fully knowing (even if you foolishly did not read the TOS) that, on a free public site, anyone in the world can view it, share it, download it and basically use it in any way they choose.

You want your 15 minutes, that's the trade-off, kiddo!

5. The TOS of the free public site you used, and to which you agreed, specifically states that you grant the site owner licensing rights to allow others to use or distribute any uploaded material.

What do you THINK that means? HA!

6. You recorded a segment belonging to a private commercial media corporation (in its entirety I'm assuming, because you wanted to 'show' it to others), and posted it up onto a free public site.

This was not YOUR original material. It was VH1's original material. It may have contained footage featuring you, your creative material and a Star Wars' theme, but the entire Web Junk video belongs to VH1 / Viacom and they own the full copyright to it.

This is where 'journalistic license' comes in. They are a media corporation, that's their job.

You should have left it well alone, or put a link to it in your blog, site, wherever, or just write about it. Those are better, more honest and more accepted ways for you to show the world material belonging to others.

7. Notice that VH1 / Viacom did NOT do the stupid thing of sticking up their copyright material onto a free public site.

They did not sign over their rights to all and sundry. Like you did. So they are fully within their rights in protecting their copyright material.

8. YT / Google was only doing its job according to its guidelines and rules in their TOS.

To their credit. Being a free public site, with the millions of profiles on their rolls and the amount of garbage, trash and pure unadulterated plagiarised material that comes in, they still took the trouble to act on a delinquent member.

Yes, that's what you are. No matter what you might think of what you posted. You didn't follow their rules, short and simple.

Do you think YT / Google is going to get all protective of the copyright of one original video posted on their free public site? When it is not even the video in question.

And disregard the copyright of a video belonging to a private commercial media corporation? Which IS the video in question and what their notice of violation to you is about.

Good job, Google!

Look, if I complained to them about someone stealing my original material, I sure would want them to do something.

FYI, they are actively blacklisting sites and IP addresses of TOS violaters of any of their sites, including those sites that infringe on others' intellectual property. Being the biggest search engine, they have a difficult job, but they do try hard to 'police' the web as best and fair as they can.

9. So you "didn't mind" when VH1 aired your footage within their commentary? Heh! Silence is consent.

Contrary to making you appear nice and sweet, this shows how dumb you are. That was a chance to protect your rights and try to get something out of it. Or 'get back at the big boys'. But you didn't do a thing.

The courts will just look at the facts.

Both Viacom and Google are taking the correct legal actions. Whereas you are just mouthing off, saying things that have no legal basis.

Finally, let me say this. I am all FOR Viacom. By monitoring their own intellectual property and doing something about unauthorised use of their IP, and going after the perpetrators, they are actually helping people like you and me!

Yes, you too, Christopher. In fact, you should know better than to write this piece trying to protect your copyright when you yourself are guilty of the very same thing you are accusing them of doing. You being a creator of IP yourself and all.

Pot calling the kettle black, all right!

If you cared about your own IP with even a fraction of the vehemence that Viacom cares about its own, none of this would've happened.

More of us should be going after copyright infringers. There's just too much plagiarising and ripping off and pirating going on. Especially on the Net. Unfortunately, most of us are like you in this department - don't have the resources.

Viacom DOES have the resources to keep these unprincipled low-life in check. Don't forget that Viacom has already paid hefty legal fees to send that notification to Google.

We should be supporting them.

Hooray for Viacom! And for Google too!

Anonymous said...

Its very scary that a lot of people leaving comments have no grasp of what "equal under the law" means. Some of you are saying that Chris should be deprived of rights because he's not a giant company or because of what his commercial looks like or other things. In my opinion people like some of you are not real Americans. We either have equal consideration for all or we have equality for none.

Anonymous said...

Ignore the last comment they seem to think that posting something on youtube means you relinquish all ownership of something.

I'm not going to suggest suing somone etc but I do suggest you kick up a fuss over the issue. No matter how large or small an organisation they shouldn't be allowed to take somones work without following the proper procedures.

Anonymous said...

Chris, it doesn't really matter, but istudios is almost certainly Jeff "mouthing off". It's his style.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, IStudios. Finally, a lucid, well-thought out, and CORRECT post about this issue. I am an IP lawyer, and while of course I am not giving legal advice to anyone here, I applaud IStudios for his thorough analysis of the facts, application of the law and spot-on conclusions. BTW, I'm not some corporate shill...I'm a musician and songwriter, so I truly value original creativity and believe it's important for ALL creators to protect their property.

Anonymous said...

Nobody said Viacom had more rights than Chris. The Issue is not really about the size of the corporation. Sure they dwarf Chris in size and talent. But think about what would happened here, try and reverse the situation. Lets say hypothetically CBS(viacom)put one of those watch a crappy sitcom ad on youtube(willingly). Now, It's a 30 second spot which is intended to get exposure and not money. Now lets say Chris HOSTS IT ON HIS OWN WEBSITE it on his blog with some additional commentary. CBS no longer has the right to take that same ad and put it on youtube because CBS does not own the right to do that. All Chris would have to do is get in contact with youtube and the clip would be taken down. Which is basically what happened. It would be foolish for Viacom to try and continue to get his permission to put his clip on youtube, where anybody can steal it. Oh and by the way, I love the guy above me. Apparently a real American is ready to get litigious without without regard to common sense and the law. Have fun fake-slipping in supermarkets.

IStudios said...

Who's Jeff? I am certainly NOT Jeff, whoever he is.

"Real American"? And what is that exactly?

Viacom and Google are American too. And I support them. Does that make me a "real American"? And do those of you in here who DON'T support them NOT "real Americans"?

Is a "real American" someone who blindly supports another American who breaks the law? My word for that is Dumb.

So should we take legal advice from someone who says we should be "real Americans"?

Equal under the law, I agree. That's how the courts see it too.

But what makes you think that 'equal under the law' means that Christopher has a case and will win? Apparently, you've already judged the outcome based on your idea of 'equal under the law'.

I'm not judging Christopher. I'm just playing devil's advocate and trying to point out the legalities he has overlooked.

If he takes this up, the judge or jury in court will decide the case based on the law and the facts.

There's too much emphasis in here on 'them' and 'us', the big boys and the little guy. And going on that basis, most of the responses are urging Christopher to fight them.

It's not as simple as that. He alone has to answer for his actions, no-one else, and he may very well lose.

And where is he going to get all the money needed to fight them? Not from any of you "sue them" idiots, for sure!

It still takes money for a "real American" to be 'equal under the law', doesn't it?

And thank you, IP lawyer! Yes, we IP creators as a whole aren't anywhere near as protective of our creations as we should be.

Anonymous said...

Chris did get screwed by a corporation, but it wasn't Viacom. It was Youtube. But that shouldn't surprise anybody. They put sketchy legal disclaimers in order to grab your content have their way with it. Same thing with all the illegal uploads. They blame their users for the illegal uploads when they should take part of the responsibility for hosting the content. I have a solution: boycott Youtube. Next time you want to see what Homer said to Bart in Season 4 Episode 6 go and rent the DVD. Missed last night's The Office? Go and download it from Itunes. The demand is there for the content. If it wasn't for Youtube and P2P maybe companies could custom sell their products direct from their sites. Imagine living in a word where you can get the Star Wars Holiday Special In a DVD direct from Lucas. Or I don't know maybe the Transformers Soundtrack could be easily obtained by placing an order form. Maybe IFC or somebody could hire budding film makers to make quirky spots intended for a small audience. But none of this can happen with Youtube giving it away for free!

David Fiedler said...

IANAL, but...

IMHO you have an entirely different case here, although you may well have diluted it by your comments on this site.

If I had posted a video, and some huge corporation had used it on TV in a segment called "Web Junk", I would be kicking back on a brand new yacht about now.

By doing such a thing, they not only used your IP without permission but mocked it by calling it "Web Junk", seriously damaging your reputation as a producer and tortuous interference with yo momma, etc.

Stop being a nice guy and call a GOOD lawyer.

And if you win, please send me some money!

Anonymous said...

David - it's pretty clear you're not a lawyer, because if you were you would know that what you said is ridiculous.

Using part of CK's clip on Web Junk was not infringement b/c by posting to YouTube, the poster pretty much gives up all his rights and V may well have had a license from YT. Not that they need permission to do what they did - the usage of CK's clip in Web Junk for the purpose of commentary and criticism is pretty much the most clear cut example of fair use I can think of.

Secondly...defamation for calling it "web junk"?!?!? Can movie producers sue every time they get a bad review? Please, stop talking about stuff you really don't know...and your misuse of words like "diluted" and "tortuous interference" (it's "tortious" btw) doesn't help - it only further exposes your ignorance of the law.

IAAL but I ain't yours so none of this should be construed as legal advice. Peace.

Anonymous said...

Now I'm sure istudios is Jeff.

Anonymous said...

I understand your anger at their, admittedly, ridiculous claim of infringement. Unfortunately, I think the law is actually on their side. Not only did you post the clip to Youtube, it's also a political ad, which can definitely be used for almost any purpose after it's been published.

Additionally, what they did was definitely fair use in a journalistic sense. They did not simply play your ad but commented on it and, essentially, changed and incorporated the work in another. I'm oversimplifying here, of course.

What you did was simply post the clip as is. Now, if you had cut it up and used it to make your own commentary of their commentary, that would be fair use again. This could go on forever without anyone having any basis for a legal claim. Simple copy and past/post is not protected as such.

Anonymous said...

6. Your User Submissions and Conduct

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. The above licenses granted by you in User Videos terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your User Videos from the YouTube Service. You understand and agree, however, that YouTube may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of User Submissions that have been removed or deleted. The above licenses granted by you in User Comments are perpetual and irrevocable.

So basically, YouTube can do what it wants with stuff you upload... However, you cannot post videos if you did not produce, own, or create, specifically if they are "watermarked" with a tv network logo... Unless you have permission.

So basically. Tough luck. Learn you lesson and move on. Don't put stuff on the internet unless you are prepared to have it ripped off. Large companies like Viacom don't pick fights they can't win.

Anonymous said...

Some of you people have no understanding at all of real copyright. You read the terms of service and think that's everything you need to know. I work in a copyright attorney's office and at no point do I know of has Knight given away rights to his ad in the way that Viacom is ascribing.

Anonymous said...

I work at NASA doing data entry. That does not make me an astronaut.

Chris Knight said...

YouTube has restored the video.

Blackpool Hotels said...

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

Posted By Blackpool Hotels
Date: 19th September 2007

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said ... (2:23 AM, August 30, 2007) :
You sir, are an ass.
Website designer...
HA !
Better then most peoples myspace pages.
What? You thought that was all I was going to say? It's not.
That sucks dude. Glad they put the video back up. Did you use a GNU or Creative Commons license when you published it?

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...


I just heard the interview you gave to the CBC in 2007 about this issue. They've repeated it a couple times during their Christmas schedule, so your story is still fresh within the wider press.


Anonymous said...

Hii, do you know that I have been banned from Youtube by order of Viacom because I posted a few old clips that I think forgotten by all people.

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Anonymous said...

So, first they steal your work. Then repeatedly dis you and your work. And it add injury to insult, cry like the giant babies they are because you reshowed your own work, with basically a tiny bit their work capping it, and one major insult during. They're lucky you didn't sue for libel/defamation of character, etc.

Imagine the publicity over Viacom stealing people's content, and insulting them throughout. Quite frankly, the real issue is you rippping off Star Wars, and George Lucas loves fanvids so much, I doubt he'd mind.

Your vid is exactly what Fair Use is about. They use yours, you use theirs (within a reasonable amount of their content). You are the victim here, not them. They committed the real crime: stealing and unsulting you and your work.

You should say Viacom endorses you, since the vid clearly shows a Viacom employee saying he'd want you on the board.

Anonymous said...

Good work. We must destroy such companies like VIACOM with their own guns. COPYRIGHTS :D

Anonymous said...

Suing Viacom! Way to go, I hope you win (not that you can).
The internet has changed hasn’t it; we use to hope for this kind of attention back on WWWF! I wish we had YouTube! Would have made quite a difference!
May the force be with you!

(hehehe Chris vs. Viacom?)

Anonymous said...

unfortunately youtube has a lot of fine print protecting themselves against something like this, in fact they profit greatly off of other peoples labor, the whole thing is a mess, the problem is we as viewers are in it for fun, while the vultures are out for blood, the only thing you can do is share you story, and let public opinion work for you, I will help share this story if you don't mind, of all the nerve!

Anonymous said...

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Chicken Coop Plan said...

Nuff said..

Celestial Elf said...

Awesome fiasco!
My recent machinima might help to explain..
The Raven King on Copyright,

Anonymous said...

I contacted the EFF regarding this, and they told me to give you this link.


Chicken Coop Plans said...

I agree in part with Chris Knight but the youtube video is not the same

Aidan said...

Sadly, you need to register a work before you can sue for infringement. To add insult to injury, the courts really cut down on your damages if an infringement occurred prior to registration.

The lobbyists set it up this way so that they - the patricians - can get away with anything but the plebeians get silenced.