YouTube removing Comedy Central clips
Video-sharing site being purchased by Google reportedly taking down copyrighted material after notice from Viacom unit.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oh my God, they purged Kenny!
The New York Times reported Monday that video sharing site YouTube is removing copyrighted material from cable network Comedy Central, including episodes of "South Park" (whose character Kenny is killed in every episode) as well as "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report."
Comedy Central, a unit of Viacom (Charts), has clips of the shows on its own Web site, but YouTube has become a popular destination for those wanting to watch "South Park," especially past episodes that can't be found on the Comedy Central site.
Jeff Reifman, who the Times reported broke the news on the news-sharing blog NewsCloud, received a notice from YouTube that a number of clips he had posted to the site were being taken down as a result "of a third-party notification by Comedy Central claiming that this material is infringing."
The notice, which Reifman also posted on his blog, further warned, "Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to avoid future strikes against your account, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others."
The Times reports that YouTube did not respond to repeated messages left over the weekend.
Some media executives have speculated that YouTube would face copyright lawsuits once it was owned by a deep-pocketed media company that it did not face when it had relatively little in the way of assets. In September, billionaire Internet mogul Mark Cuban said at a forum in New York that anyone who bought YouTube would be a "moron" because of the litigation risks associated with the company since some videos posted on the site could violate copyright infringements.
The official Web site of "South Park" included a frequently asked question segment that appeared to give fans the go-ahead to download episodes onto video-sharing sites.
"Matt and Trey do not mind when fans download their episodes off the Internet; they feel that it's good when people watch the show no matter how they do it," said the site's August 2003 posting, referring to the show's creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
Reifman questioned whether the push to remove copyrighted material now that Google is buying the site will hurt its value, and will also hurt Comedy Central, which saw the popularity of its shows grow as people shared clips of favorite episodes.
"Apparently, all good things come to an end when there [are] money and attorneys involved," Reifman wrote. "With Google purchasing YouTube, ComedyCentral figured there was now an opportunity aka profit center to target. And they've [pre]sumably made these ... requests to YouTube."
Google is not the only company buying online video-sharing sites. Sony (Charts) bought online video firm Grouper for $65 million in August. NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric (Charts), paid $600 million for iVillage, a network of sites that focuses on women, in March. Time Warner (Charts), which also owns CNNMoney.com, bought three firms with social networking or online video ties this year. And News Corp. (Charts) paid $590 million last year for Intermix, parent of the social networking phenomenon MySpace.