Activists drop Viacom suit

Media giant lowers YouTube shield

Digital rights activists have dropped a lawsuit against Viacom after the media giant admitted it mistakenly ordered YouTube to take down a parody video and agreed to make it easier for producers to resolve takedown notices sent in error.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Stanford Law School Fair Use Project filed the suit on behalf of liberal group MoveOn.org and Brave New Films last month after Viacom told YouTube to take down a video parody using clips from “The Colbert Report.” (Daily Variety, March 23)

Conglom said at the time it had no problem with the video and that the takedown demand “most likely did not come from us.”

But in subsequent letters to EFF, Viacom general counsel Michael Fricklas said further investigation found that the conglom did, in fact, mistakenly issue the takedown notice to YouTube.

In addition to admitting the error, Fricklas said Viacom is setting up an e-mail address and information on its corporate Web site to help those who believe their videos constitute legal “fair use,” such as parody, and should not have been removed.

Counsel said Viacom has a policy of responding to counter-notices regarding online content takedowns within one day.

As Viacom and other congloms increasingly order viral video Web sites to take down clips they believe violate their copyright, online content producers and their defenders have been demanding more transparent ways to protest wrongful takedowns.

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