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Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Knight Shift is standing up for The Sideshow Coalition

About three years ago, this blog's eclectic proprietor had to learn awful fast and hard about Viacom and its dispute with YouTube. If you recall, if you worked it out in your head then logically Viacom was accusing me of violating my own copyright after Viacom took my work without permission and used it for a show on VH1, and then accused ME of copyright infringement for posting the clip of that onto YouTube.

Well, I won that case as best I can imagine an individual could take on such a huge corporation and eke out a victory (again, thanks in no small measure to the good people at the Electronic Frontier Foundation). And I've been keeping an eye on Viacom ever since. One of the things that has galled me most is how Viacom and its mega-hypocrite of a CEO Sumner Redstone have shown such disdain toward independent content producers such as myself. And recently Viacom referred to people such as myself as a "sideshow": intimating that the original content we're coming up with isn't as "legitimate" as the bigtime corporate-produced material that's allegedly being uploaded to YouTube in violation of copyright.

I'll use the terminology that I used then: this is "bass-ackwards".

Well, an artist named Alan Lastufka has disclosed that he's been assisting YouTube in its defense against Viacom. Lastufka and several others have come together in what they are proudly calling "The Sideshow Coalition". I'll let Lastufka explain things in his own words...

We recently all wrote brief statements for the court to read on how we’ve used YouTube to not only reach an audience with our original work, but how we’ve made YouTube a home, a business, or a place for friends and family.

My piece focused on DFTBA Records, and how this little company Hank and I started, run out of my garage, promoted only on YouTube, is now supporting numerous musicians full-time, myself full-time, and making tens of thousands of listeners from every country in the world, happy.

And none of that would be possible were it not for YouTube.

If Viacom wins this lawsuit, YouTube may be forced to manually approve every video uploaded to the website, making it impossible but for a select few to post videos on the site. No longer would YouTube be a place for everyone, it would be a place for Partners who are legally bound not to upload copyrighted content. This is obviously not what YouTube, or any registered YouTube user, wants.

Our testimonials and personal stories will hopefully help the court decide in YouTube’s favor. Viacom doesn’t understand YouTube, or the community. And Viacom wants every registered user to have to pay for the actions of a very small portion of dishonest users...

You can help by bringing this case to the attention of others. You can simply tweet a link to this journal entry, or you can read the brief and write your own thoughts on your blogs.

If YouTube loses this case, we will all lose.

Here's the link to the amicus brief that the Sideshow Coalition has filed in support of YouTube. What I especially appreciate about this is that Alan Lastufka and his colleagues are rigorously defending productivity and originality, whereas if Viacom has its way this kind of home-grown industry will be greatly diminished if not outright quashed.

Needless to say, I am throwing whatever support and goodwill that I can muster behind the Sideshow Coalition. And I will gladly encourage everyone else reading this to do likewise.

(Thanks to Jenna St. Hilaire for passing along the info!)


Jenna St.Hilaire said...

Thanks for posting this! I knew you'd want to see it because of the experience you've had.

Viacom has a right to protect their copyrighted intellectual property, but not at the expense of the originality and fair industry of others. Hopefully this suit goes nowhere.

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