Viacom Notices

Viacom demands that YouTube take down 100,000 clips that it claims constitute copyright infringement and YouTube responds that it will comply with the request.  While some are asking how YouTube can remove so many clips so quickly, a better question is how Viacom can identify that many clips with sufficient certainty that they are not overstepping their copyright rights.  John Palfrey points to at least one instance of overreaching today involving a 30 second clip of friends eating at a restaurant.  With the DMCA's shoot first, aim later approach of notice-and-takedown, there are no doubt others.  A good example of why Bill C-60 got at least this issue right with a notice-and-notice system.


  1. David Akin
    Hi Michael — David Weinberger reports that one of his friends had his video taken down by YouTube — it was a 30-second video of his friend and others eating ribs at a restaurant.
    Weinberger’s post: [ link ]

  2. Rob Hyndman says:

    Is that really the better question, Michael? Surely some human error is inevitable, after all. A high error rate should certainly raise questions, but if it amounts to 2 out of 100,000, for example, and the 2 errors can be resubmitted wihout anyone losing an eye …. And surely, if YT is worth $1.6B, there is some money available to service large-scale takedown notices?

    What I’m wondering is how this works when users have the power to reupload those same clips, over and over and over again. Are we now into a grand game of whack-a-mole? For what (larger) purpose?

  3. Matthew Rimmer says:

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a campaign on this issue:
    [ link ]

    Unfairly Caught in Viacom’s Dragnet? Let Us Know!
    February 08, 2007
    As an RIAA spokesperson famously put it when asked about the spectacle of file-sharing lawsuits against innocent grandparents, “when you go fishing with a driftnet, sometimes you catch a dolphin.”

    Well, with its 100,000 DMCA takedown notices aimed at YouTube users, now it’s Viacom that is netting its share of dolphins. Among the 100,000 videos targeted for takedowns was a home movie shot in a BBQ joint, a film trailer by a documentarian, and a music video (previously here) about karaoke in Singapore. None of these contained anything owned by Viacom. For its part, Viacom has admitted to “no more than” 60 mistakes, so far. Yet each mistake impacts free speech, both of the author of the video and of the viewing public.

    If they are making these kinds of blatant mistakes, who can tell how many fair uses of Viacom content they also targeted in their 100,000 takedowns? Hundreds? Thousands? If Viacom made a clear mistake and your clip contains no content from Viacom-owned copyrighted works, sending a simple DMCA counter-notice to YouTube may be enough to do the job. But if you’re attempting to make a fair use of Viacom’s works, it may make more sense to go to court to assert your rights. More information about your options is available at the Fair Use Network.

    Has your video been removed from YouTube based on a bogus Viacom takedown? If so, contact –we may be able to help you directly or help find another lawyer who can. In this situation, as in so many others, EFF will work to make sure that copyright claims don’t squelch free speech.