Tuesday, September 11, 2007

VIACOM SITUATION UPDATE: YouTube has restored my clip

It will be two weeks ago tomorrow since YouTube notified me that it had pulled the clip I had uploaded from VH1's show Web Junk 2.0 featuring my first school board commercial. VH1's parent company Viacom had considered it an infringement of copyright and requested that YouTube to act accordingly. Later that same day I filed a counter-notification claim with YouTube, arguing that I should be entitled to use the clip because it was a derivative product built on material that I was the original creator of. The incident received quite a bit of publicity after I posted about it on this blog.

A little after 9 p.m. tonight I received the following e-mail from YouTube:

Dear Kwerky,

In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we've completed
processing your counter-notification dated x/xx/xx regarding your video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddyVQwpByug

This content has been restored and your account will not be penalized.

Sincerely,

Harry
The YouTube Team

And sure enough, the clip is back up.

Very special thanks to Fred von Lohmann and the Electronic Frontier Foundation for their terrific assistance in this matter! Folks, I cannot begin to describe how impressed I have become with the Electronic Frontier Foundation because of this. Theirs has been the kind of service that is so rare to witness nowadays that when you do see it, it practically comes as a shock. There's no telling how much grief and headache that Fred and his crew have prevented not just for me, but for a lot of other people also. And if you find that you are capable of doing so, I would really like to suggest making a contribution to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This is one organization that really does merit a tremendous amount of respect for the work that it does.

There is more that I'm feeling led to say about this, but that'll have to wait to be appended to this post or on a new one tomorrow. But I wanted to go ahead and let it be known that the situation is now, apparently and very thankfully, resolved.

EDIT 9:33 a.m. EST:

There is something that I feel compelled to say now that this situation is apparently resolved for good. Something that I've been yearning to scream almost since this whole thing started...

At no point have I ever seen this, or even desired to see this, as a "get Viacom" thing. And I seriously regret that some people saw this incident as an opportunity to lash out at that company for sake of spite or profit or whatever.

Doubt it not: there's been a huge amount of frustration on this end for the past two weeks. But it's been such great irony that I've had to laugh about it too.

I've got nothing against Viacom. And I wish that nobody else would have anything against Viacom, either. Life's way too short to spend even a moment of it wanting to hurt others.

Believe me, I know from firsthand experience: bitterness will only reap regret.

Big companies are made up of people, too. Yeah, I know that a lot of big companies have screwed plenty of things up. But that's only because collective might magnifies the flaws that are already in every human being on the planet. And despite that apparent strength in numbers, you have to make yourself realize that it's not some corporate leviathan that you're in disagreement with, but the people within it... and it's altogether possible that you and they are more alike than you realize.

Ya see, we've made it all too easy to hate "them". It’s a hard thing to hate an individual person. But make that person a Viacom executive, or a Democrat or Republican, or a Protestant or Catholic, or a Muslim or Jew, or whatever, by de-humanizing them and sticking them behind some mass façade... and it becomes not just easy to hate them but it's practically expected that we try to destroy them!

I don't hate Viacom, no matter what's happened in the past few weeks. And I hope that nobody else does either, for this or for any other reason. So if you do, please stop.

Man has spent six thousand years struggling with law and how to comprehend it. We still haven't got it down pat. And then things like the Internet and digital media come and muck it up even more. I sincerely believe that's what happened here: Viacom and I converged on untrotted soil, in a way that to the best of my knowledge had never happened before. Fortunately, we got out (and once again I would like to thank Fred von Lohmann and the Electronic Frontier Foundation for their assistance with this situation).

In a way, I'm sort of glad that this happened. Just as I'm glad that I ran for school board even though I didn't win a seat. This Viacom/YouTube deal is something that I learned a lot from, and came out a better person for it. It's made me much more aware of things like copyright law and the DMCA (and the myriad of problems with that legislation). I think it's safe to say that from this incident I learned quite a lot about my personal strengths and weaknesses. It was a growth event.

And along the way, I got to meet and come to know a lot of good people.

Even the bad... or just the plain crazy... things that happen to you in life, you can find something good to take from them. If you want that.

It doesn't look like this is going to wind up in any kind of litigation, and for that I am thankful. If I can die someday without having sued or been sued, then I will die happy. This ends just as I had hoped it would: with the clip back up and, I like to think, with Viacom and me getting to shake hands and move on and wishing each other well. I'll certainly harbor no hard feelings toward Viacom for the past two weeks.

And I hope that Viacom doesn't think that this means that I want them to stop using my commercial on VH1. I just want to be able to let not only my friends see it but my children and grandchildren someday, which might be after the Web Junk 2.0 site has gone defunct.

Sometime in the next few days I'm going to "collect" the various news stories that appeared online about this thing and post them here, if nothing else than for my own convenience. But also for future reference in case anybody else wants to study what happened with this issue (including arguments that were made against my case... and there were plenty). Along with some other pertinent documentation, such as the DMCA counter-notification claim that I filed, which I would welcome others to study and scrutinize and if they feel so led, to criticize (hey, it was my first one :-).

21 comments:

Adam said...

...that was one amazing commercial. i would have voted for you!

Anonymous said...

Nice work, young jedi.

Richard Atkinson said...

Do publish the arguments Viacom made against your case, it would be instructive to know how a company might defend this kind of action.

qemuel said...

Well said, brother-man. Ask not for a lighter load but broader shoulders...

The long-awaited update will be happening later this week, by the way. Promise! :)

Anonymous said...

Your 'don't hate corporations because they're people too' addendum is vaguely insulting. Suggestions that 'you can find something good to take from them', are pretty patronizing, no?

You may deny the view that corporations are becoming too powerful, and feel no particular urgency or remorse in this, but others do. Other do, and they will react negatively and in my opinion they have every right to be.

Chris Knight said...

I could have tried to "fight fire with fire". But what might have possibly got me, other than *maybe* monetary damages?

Would that have *really* put a stop to things like this? Don't you think that instead of helping matters that it might have altogether WORSENED them in some or perhaps many ways?

Has it occurred to you that maybe there are OTHER ways of fighting, without trying to hurt or outright destroy others?

When does it stop? Who does it stop with?

I'm already hearing from some people who are honked-off that I didn't "get tough" with Viacom. They're angry that I possibly had the opportunity to hurt the company and instead I chose to drop the knife.

Do you understand that last part? I dropped the knife. I *let* it happen. Because by that point apparently, the goal I was seeking had been achieved and there was no reason to pursue Viacom about it any further.

There is a difference between having to fight a person in order to see the right thing done, and fighting a person in order to hurt or destroy him. You can't have both. One can be noble. The other is evil and will come to destroy you in time.

I would rather have won this victory, however small, and know that hopefully others can see what happened and take something good from it, so that if need be they will know that they can and *should* fight also, if they're ever faced with this kind of situation.

drt said...

In this case, it's clear that you are much better than Viacom. But should David turn the other cheek for Goliath? People are threatened by the overwhelming power and rapaciousness of the corporate machines not guided by the goodness of humanity.

Chris Knight said...

"People are threatened by the overwhelming power and rapaciousness of the corporate machines not guided by the goodness of humanity."

All it takes is the will to say "no". Even the least of us can do that much.

If this can be done, then all else follows.

But it's vital that in the process of saying "no", that we do not become that which we might be set against. That may be the faster path to "victory", but in the long run it tends to corrupt and bring us down.

I misspoke earlier when I said that I might have "won" here. Actually, I don't want to say that I won anything. The right thing was simply done in this matter, and all the parties involved didn't seem to have suffered anything for it.

There's an old issue of the G.I. Joe comics from Marvel where the Joes accomplished a mission without a single shot being fired by *anyone* and nobody getting hurt. "That's what I call a perfect mission", the team leader (I think it was Hawk) said.

I like to believe the same holds true, here.

- Mitch - said...

Grats on getting your video back up on YouTube. Has Viacom tried to contact you after YouTube put it back up? Or have they tried to take the video back down again? Kind of curious as to what their response is on it.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you won, and understand your decision to not pursue the matter. However, if the shoe was on the other foot, you would receive no altruism from the other side. Future victims of said Goliath, et al., will not have this precedent set for defending future infringements upon their rights. I would not wish to pursue the matter either, but I like to believe I would follow through on principal. These people may be like you or me, but they operate as a collective of self-interest where "the bottom line" takes precedent over wrong or right.
As I said, I respect your decision and applaud your integrity, but still believe it is a token gesture that holds no value to those who values nothing but the "bottom line".

Lee said...

Hey, good job getting the video back up, but it may not be permanent. Youtube is very.. inept. There was a video unjustly removed from a prominent user, JamesNintendoNerd. He filed a counterclaim, and the video was restored. One month later, they deleted it again for the exact same reason.

Heh, all I'm saying is, wait a few months, and the shitstorm may happen again. Youtube should take a lot of the heat for this since their copyright infringement division is comprised of retards that wouldn't know what fair use was if it went up and cockslapped them in the face.

Bryan said...

I think you have handled the situation with extreme grace, and have set a wonderful example to anyone who follows in your footsteps. You were picked on by the school yard bully and you didn't back down. No, you haven't gotten any monetary damages out of the situation, but realistically you weren't really damaged in the situation. The main thing you have done is set a precedence that will help others who come behind you. Kudos, and I tip my hat to you. I think you have a solid foundation and the people of your town made a bad decision not putting you on the board. Keep trying to run again, because I think you can do great things for the world!

Anonymous said...

It's worse than you know. Not only was Chris not elected, the guy who won the seat was caught stealing campaign signs on the night before the election.

More often than not, the bad guys win in almost every situation.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible for you to post some details of the counterclaim process?

Chris Knight said...

Yes. I'm working on a couple of posts that will more or less "chronicle" everything that happened in this situation. The counterclaim process - including the claim itself - is something that I'm aiming to have up here sometime tomorrow or Sunday.

Anonymous said...

TheReg cited you with: "I have nothing against Viacom," Knight told The Reg. "We just wound up converging in territory no one had ventured into - and I'm glad we were able to resolve it."
I cannot beleive you REALLY said that. This is ball-less moronry at its worst !!

David said...

Stumbled upon this topic very late. I have many tabs open in Firefox, and somewhat unsure how I got here (ever have one of those days?)
After saying that, the original reason for posting is that after reading this remark only (9-11-07), and not seeing any of the videos or previous posts, I can tell that you are a very special person. You were more or less minding your own business, maybe posted an unauthorized TV broadcast of your video on Youtube, received a takedown notice from Viacom (maybe owns VH1?), and tried to get the situation righted, concerning a video you actually owned. In the end, you show no animosity to Viacom or anyone else. Technically VH1 or somebody more or less stole your video, but you hold no grudge. Seeing that within a company are many little people, just like us, working and making decisions, good or bad. Now, off to read what started all of this.

andreas e. said...

Oh well. I stumbled on this quite late after the Prince incident (or as I call him His Royal Uppity), causing every video with "His" music to get silenced in the audio.

Well, I have to contradict on one thing you said:
"I've got nothing against Viacom. And I wish that nobody else would have anything against Viacom, either."

But I *DO* have something against Viacom! Although from another side, but does this really matter? I'm writing from Germany, and we once had a TV program called VIVA. Yes they still exist, but they aren't the same as before! When they started back in 1993-ish, they were a nice sort of family with a very gentle CEO and an open ear for any problems of their employees. BUT then the big thing came: Viacom utterly invaded VIVA, took over all brands and other rights and transformed the formerly-so-friendly station in a freakin' media machine, killing off ANY diversity and also any occasion to present some novelty stuff in order to avoid that spectators get bored. With the years (1999-) everything started to become more and more commercial: even more ringtone commercials until your ears bleed, always the same discussions like: "No we must not leave room for novelty stuff, because we have to refrain from that if we can ensure grubbing money in that hour". Many presenters of the original line-up fled because they could not stand it anymore.
That was the destruction of my youth dream on TV for any forthcoming generations which are now inundated by this all-time-same-sounding crap still - and unjustifiedly - called "music".

Now you might understand why I have a grudge against Viacom and their ideology to level out each and every diversity. It almost feels like a political party that wants to suppress every resistance and even tiniest anarchical *tendencies*.

I hate Viacom. From the bottom of my heart. They destroyed good music TV in Germany. That's why I hate them for. Profoundly.

sincerely

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wizoomer95 said...

To think I came across your video after a case with Copyrights, YouTube, and Viacom of my own, I was intrigued by your story. YouTube removing a video that viacom said was infringing their copyrights is one thing, but when in fact their use of your work was infringing your copyright, that's just unethical!! However, personally, if I were in your shoes, I would do more than filing a dispute; I would sue Viacom for violating your copyright!! I wish Viacom would just lay off a bit. I wish that they would allow ads instead of trying to prevent Fair Use-allowed uploads on YouTube!