EFF Goes YouTube Ambulance Chasing

    February 15, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

If a YouTube user feels one of their videos was an unfair casualty of Viacom’s recent war on copyright infringement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to know about it. The nonprofit organization has posted its call to the user-generated disenfranchised on their home YouTube turf.

The EFF posted a video entitled "Were You Caught in the Viacom Takedown?" on the Google-owned video site, referring to the flurry 100,000 videos that were deleted at Viacom’s request. Viacom claimed users uploaded the content in violation of copyright law.

There have been reports, as reflected in the video as well as the comments, that some videos were taken down that did not violate any such rights, or at best, Viacom’s legal team stretched some of their claims.

Chiefly, the video asks YouTubers if their displaced video was used for parody, comment, criticism, news reporting, or for non-commercial and/or transformative uses of Viacom content. If so, the EFF wants to hear from them.

"We like to make sure copyright law doesn’t trump free speech," says the narrator toward the end.

The probable lawsuit against Viacom is presumably part of a larger EFF campaign targeting corporate bullies the organization says are abusing copyright law to silence critics.

Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, who sought an injunction against wiki sites and citizen journalists for publishing leaked information about its best-selling Zyprexa drug, was a recent EFF target.

The Discovery Channel, too, has felt the sharp sting of EFF opposition lately for demanding the removal of "SpankMaker" (Warning: hairy men in women’s thongs) an online tool for producing parodies of a controversial Discovery Communications marketing campaign. The EFF sent Discovery a letter outlining how use of the images provided was "clearly a non-infringing parody."

"Once again, a business is trying to use false legal claims to chill criticism," said Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "Fortunately, more and more, the targets of these kinds of threats are fighting back."

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