Activist groups sued Viacom Inc. on Thursday, claiming the parent of Comedy Central improperly asked the video-sharing site YouTube to remove a parody of the cable network’s “The Colbert Report.”
Viacom responded by saying it had no records of ever making such a request.
Although the video in question contained clips taken from the television show, MoveOn.org Civic Action and Brave New Films LLC argued that their use was protected under “fair use” provisions of copyright law.
With Viacom identified by YouTube as the source of the removal request, they said Viacom should have known the use was legal and thus its complaint to YouTube to have the video blocked amounted to a “misrepresentation” that is subject to damages under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
March 22, 2007
FCC Starts In On Net Neutrality [2:26 pm]
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission took a small step to address a growing debate on whether high-speed Internet providers like AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. should be barred from charging extra fees to guarantee access to the Internet.
The five commissioners backed a proposal on Thursday to start a “notice of inquiry” regarding broadband industry practices.
The notice has not yet been posted. Releases
The Continuing COPA Saga [2:00 pm]
A federal judge on Thursday dealt another blow to government efforts to control Internet pornography, striking down a 1998 U.S. law that makes it a crime for commercial Web site operators to let children access “harmful” material.
In the ruling, the judge said parents can protect their children through software filters and other less restrictive means that do not limit the rights of others to free speech.
[...] The case sparked a legal firestorm last year when Google challenged a Justice Department subpoena seeking information on what people search for online. Government lawyers had asked Google to turn over 1 million random Web addresses and a week’s worth of Google search queries.
A judge sharply limited the scope of the subpoena, which Google had fought on trade secret, not privacy, grounds.
No opinion online, but here’s the WWW page for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where I expect it will turn up eventually. From Salon: ACLU v. Gonzales
MS Lobbying On Privacy [1:35 pm]
An advertisement on the NYTimes’ Op-Ed page caught my eye today. You want to get all warm and fuzzy about it, but it’s a text that can be read more than one way:
On the legal front, we at Microsoft believe the United States needs an all-inclusive, uniform privacy law that will give consumers more control over their personal data and more reason for confidence in providing information to legitimate businesses and other organizations. With the flow of information becoming increasingly global, we also see a growing need to align U.S. law with current and emerging privacy standards in the rest of the world.
[...] We urge Congress to act on comprehensive privacy legislation this year. Action is needed to keep America at the forefront of the amazing changes and great benefits still to come, as technology continues to advance.
“We Always Were Planning To Do This” [8:41 am]
The complementary strategy to an infringement lawsuit - catching up with what the plaintiff is doing (and that you refused to do) so that you will get a more sympathetic hearing. Competition’s creative destruction in the context of big business and litigation. The question for the courts and legislatures will be, when the fighting is over, will there still be room for innovation in this space? Or will the winner get to define the boundaries of the playing field for all time? News Corp., NBC pull together to challenge YouTube - pdf
Several media giants are teaming up to challenge Google Inc. and its YouTube video-sharing service, seeking to blunt their incursion into the entertainment business.
News Corp. and NBC Universal plan to announce as soon as today that they are creating an online video site stocked with TV shows and movies, plus clips that users can modify and share with friends, according to people close to the negotiations.
The two companies enlisted help from some of Google’s biggest Internet rivals. The News Corp.-NBC Universal partnership has deals with Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp., Time Warner Inc.’s AOL and News Corp.’s MySpace to place videos in front of their collective audience of hundreds of millions.
Despite Hollywood’s dismal track record in creating successful joint ventures, these players see little choice but to band together to compete against Google and Apple Inc., which are becoming powerful distributors of entertainment.
Anonymity, A Short-Lived Commodity [8:35 am]
A Democratic operative with ties to Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign claimed credit Wednesday for creating and posting a mystery video on the Internet that slammed Obama’s main rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Obama’s campaign repeated its denial of any involvement in the matter. The operative, Philip de Vellis, said he created the spot and posted it on YouTube while employed by a firm that is advising the Illinois Democrat on his Internet presence. The firm, Blue State Digital, said De Vellis, 33, was “terminated” Wednesday; De Vellis said he resigned.
[...] “The 2008 campaign is going to be dramatically different because of YouTube, because of citizen involvement, and because of people like Phil de Vellis doing an ad that becomes explosively viral,” said Arianna Huffington, who oversees the Huffington Post, which first disclosed De Vellis’ identity.
Huffington exposed De Vellis by urging her contributors to work their contacts to identify ParkRidge47. It took about a day. Huffington wrote Wednesday that she called De Vellis to ask him about the spot and invited him to explain himself, which he did later Wednesday.