Video Game Trailer Offers Exercise in Upcoming SOPA Futility

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Apparently, if you want to promote your video game, or members of the company that developed it through the use of online video hubs like YouTube, you had better make sure Viacom didn't, at any point, put their hands on it, otherwise, you're video stands a good chance of being pulled.

Just ask video game developers Naughty Dog, who posted the trailer to their upcoming game, The Last of Us, on YouTube. Shortly after it appeared, it was taken down thanks to a copyright claim from Viacom. Their issue? Even though they didn't make, produce, advise or star in The Last of Us, because the trailer in question was first shown during the VGA Awards show, which aired on Viacom-owned SpikeTV, Viacom's claim was temporarily upheld.

Needless to say, such an overzealous application of copyright law, Viacom's move got the Internet in a tizzy, including Reddit and Kotaku. According to the latter publication, the trailer, which was posted on Naughty Dog's official YouTube page for the game in question, has been restored. The difference between the pulled on and the live version? The currently-live version mentions the VGAs in its title.

The trailer in question:

If you'll notice, the title of the video is, "The Last of Us VGA 2011 Trailer," which indicates as long as Viacom got a mention, they were OK with the video being posted. Before the attribution was given, this is what potential viewers saw when they tried to play the video:

Viacom Claim

And some people wonder why a large portion of the Internet is against SOPA. What, exactly, did Viacom gain from their strong-arming of The Last of Us trailer? Did they get to collect additional ad revenue? It's doubtful because there are no advertisements appearing with the video. Furthermore, the revenue from the telecast has already been counted, so what motivated Viacom to act in such a petulant manner?

Making this situation even worse, SOPA hasn't even been made into a law yet, so the fear is, scenarios where Viacom overvalues their position as a video game distributor will become commonplace if SOPA survives the legislative process.

Viacom did not make the video game, nor did they create the trailer, but because it was first shown on one of the many channels they own, they have a legal claim to content from an intellectual property that isn't even theirs? And this is something that will improve once SOPA passes? Forgive me for scoffing at such a ridiculous idea.

In the future, perhaps Sony, Naughty Dog's parent company, should no longer show first-run trailers on any Viacom-owned channels, even if it is for a video game award show. If Viacom is going to act obstinate about IP that doesn't even belong to them, they should be blocked from receiving such exclusive content. Fair's fair.