The Daily Show On Parent Company Viacom's Lawsuit Against YouTube… On YouTube

from the meta-meta dept

Well, here’s one for Friday evening. On last night’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (which is owned by Viacom), Stewart and Demetri Martin discussed Viacom’s lawsuit against Google/YouTube. It’s an entertaining five minutes, where Martin wonders if you’re watching him on YouTube right now — so it didn’t take long, of course, for that clip to show up on YouTube:

Of course, given the way Viacom has been trying to take down anything even remotely connected to Viacom, that video might not last long. Viacom has it available on its own site as well — though, again, getting to it and getting the embed code was immensely more annoying that the YouTube version, costs Viacom bandwidth resources and also requires Viacom employees to put the video up themselves, rather than just letting fans do it for them — but if that’s what they want (also, we “raced” the two videos and the YouTube one seemed much faster, but that’s another issue):

While the clip is amusing, the key point is that it seems clear that Stewart recognizes how Viacom’s decision is doing more harm than good: “But to me, the situation is that there’s a ton to gain for both companies. Viacom, they put their content on YouTube, it gets exposure, people know about their programming… it’s a win for everybody in this situation.” This, of course, echoes Stewart’s own statements from a few years ago about how great it was that people were downloading and watching the show (pre-YouTube). Too bad Stewart’s bosses don’t listen to him on these things.

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Comments on “The Daily Show On Parent Company Viacom's Lawsuit Against YouTube… On YouTube”

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Tired of being 'fu*ked' by the MAN says:

Viacom and all you sh*tty media companies

Because of MPAA, RIAA, Sony, Viacom and other the others who do not know their ass from there future audience — I have not bought any music, movies or other media. I have watched it on TV and surf the net and forget the rest. I have only downloaded and paid for 1 ringtone.

So my money goes for other fine pursuits!! their actions have caused me to be less of a consumer.

BTW – do not download music movies or anything else.
There is just too much Quality Original stuff to view created by individuals that share their work under same principle as Firefox. The control that the big media companies have had for my eyeballs has been broken – original content is just as good, if not better.

But any movies or cd’s I have bought have been preused, just like used cars.

See it is easy to break the business model of the big greedy media companies, who do not get the new business paradigm!!!!

They gots competition that they have not even realized they have as they piss off the public with rootkits, drm and all sort of limitations.

When I buy a pre-owned Chev, Ford or Toyota – the manufacturers no longer have any say in what I do with the vehicles!!!

so why is it different for media??

Anonymous Coward says:

good point. If we buy a new vehicle we get a ‘free’ warranty. If we buy that vehicle used there may not be any warranty unless we pay extra for it.

Perhaps to entice consumers to buy CDs instead of using P2P to download songs, the recording industry should warranty the purchase. You know, if you lose your CD or it breaks we give you another copy for free.

Peter says:

I have to go along with #4, at the local flea market I can find hundreds of used DVDs for $5 or less, several permanent vendors even will replace damaged DVDs no questions asked. Same goes for music CDs, prices vary from $1 to $5 per CD and they actually have a great selection versus what the local stores have, mainly black profanity, britney spears or country. I have no qualms about buying used, shoot my truck was used, my house was used when I bought it so why not music and movies especially since the big studios want top dollar for garbage. Actually if my local flea market is any sort of example, there are probaly millions of DVDs and CDs sold or traded every weekend just here in the US and the big studios don’t see one cent of the money.

Sanguine Dream says:

Re: Viacom's warped sense of publicity

And part that worries me is that somewhere a Viacom exec honestly thinks that people are going through the effort to see the click on their site.

::goes to to look for clips::
hold on there are not clips there
::goes to

I found the clip but it lags like no ones business. And I don’t about the rest of the net surfing world but I won’t stand for laggy clips.

Nick Burns (user link) says:

Viacom has a perfectly good reason for not wanting their clips on YouTube. They have no control over content on YouTube. A clip from The Colbert Report may show up alongside a clip from Sesame Street. They might believe that a poor quality clip on YouTube will reflect poorly on their company. By controlling the quality and appearance of their products, Viacom can maintain brand integrity and recognition. The cost of implementing their own video service, paying for bandwidth, yadda yadda, is an investment into maintaining their brands.

Not to say Viacom isn’t being a little foolish for restricting fans from putting up videos on YouTube. Free publicity is nice, but it isn’t always the best publicity. I would love to campaign for Hillary Clinton for free, but she probably wouldn’t like it. (The campaign would be about baby killing.) I’m sure the other main point of contention is advertising revenue. Viacom would much rather make money off their own shows than allow Google to. On the same note, some people will find the shows on YouTube and start watching them on TV, so Viacom will get their own revenues. Frankly, if Viacom doesn’t want their content on YouTube, that’s their own business.

YouTube doesn’t have an inalienable right to Viacom’s content, but that doesn’t mean that Viacom needs a billion dollar lawsuit to stop YouTube. Google isn’t responsible here. Fans are, but Viacom won’t sue fans. This whole mess isn’t good for the rest of us, but Viacom will make out by maintaining brand recognition.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They might believe that a poor quality clip on YouTube will reflect poorly on their company.

I would be much more forgiving of a fan putting up poor quality clips than the lagging clips that are on right now.

Fans are, but Viacom won’t sue fans.

Sue a few thousand fans that probably don’t have $1 billion between them or go after one entity that you know has $1 billion. Easy choice.

Anonymous Asian says:

Flea thats what the big studios forgot … the RIAA wanted the local pubs to pay royalties .. now # 6 .. the RIAA goons will be scouring FLea Markets all over the US trying to stop and slapping local vendors by being ” unauthorized Vendors” from trying them to stop reselling cd’s or dvd’s … what’s this world coming to, next you will have the asians going door to door selling pirated DVD’s for $4 … lil Jon Rocks ..Jon stewart should add him as a regular on his show … i’d totally watch him everytime i watch the daily show on you tube

Nico says:

It seems almost no day, or at least week passes, without the constant Techdirt criticisms of so called “modern” companies falling behind the times and losing business opportunities. It honestly gets tiresome. It’s well and good to be optimistic about the future of technology, but if the big guns are failing to see the light in such dramatic fashion… frankly, let them fall behind and fail where others will see the light and succeed. It that not the principle of technology? The succession of better systems? In this case, a better system of business.

mashman says:

Actually looks to me that Viacom is saying, have fun with our content, just don’t upload it verbatum. There are thousands of VH1 and Mtv video mashups still on YouTube along with many Danny phantom and Avator fanvids. Viacom is saying get crazy and original with our property just don’t dupe it . . . I just don’t see the issue here.

Chris says:

#10, you raise some valid points, however, I have a few problems with what Viacom is doing.

First, it is true that they can do what they want with their stuff, but when you have to shell out money to create a service that is a pain in the butt to use and implement, it doesn’t work very well.

Second, Youtube offers a free alternative to their site. All they have to do is upload the videos with some ads and they have a free hosting service, an easy was to embed videos, and a bigger database (the only way I found those clips on comedy central’s site was through Google’s personalized homepage

Finally, the reliability of the site is really bad. I have had times when I get the video perfectly and then there are times when it lags really bad, or even worse, the videos won’t play at all. I have actually seen the videos go from one, to the next, to the next, and only play the ads.

All in all, Viacom made a stupid choice, but at least they have the clips online. That at least is a step in the right direction

Nick Burns (user link) says:


Chris, I watch Daily Show & Colbert Report clips on the Motherload at It works quite well, but I’ll admit it screws up once in a while and isn’t the easiest thing to navigate – but the whole experience isn’t depressing at all. Frankly, I believe the content is good enough to be worth going through a little extra effort to access.

I have futher commentary regarding this issue at my new blog,, regarding why the YouTube service is not at all intended for established media, and is best left as a medium for unknown and very creative individuals. Please visit and read.

ranting says:

The comedycentral site is horrible. But at least they don’t block it from international viewing like certain channels (showtime, in my case). Try to access it from Canada and you get a nice message saying that the ‘content’ hosted on their website (ok, if shitty 30 second clips preceded by obnoxious ads = content) is intended for US eyes only.

(Keep in mind that they also post these clips on youtube, which I could access anyway…)

That just means I’m gonna log onto my favourite torrent site, download HQ full episodes quite readily, and then seed, so I’m also HELPING AMERICANS, who could be subscribing to showtime and contributing to ratings get these episodes faster instead of generating advertising revenue for sho.

Yea it’s offtopic, but honestly it’s just another example of these corps not understanding the mechanics and business of the web.

Rina says:

Re: Re:

Listen, whatever you think about this mess with Youtube and Viacom let’s not drag Jon Stewart into it. The man may be just a comedian but he’s never pretended to be anything else. Give the guy a break, here he is caught between taking sides with his higher ups or keeping his integrity by speaking his mind. No easy options there.

Iron Chef says:

Harvard Business School doesn't teach the same thi

I understand Viacom’s point of view, but what I don’t understand why Viacom (Old media) wants to make enemies of Google, the #1 property in the New Media.

The more I think about it, the more I think that this is a generational gap issue, and unwillingness for the old paradigm to meet with the new paradigm, and vice-versa.

I read everywhere that Older, Established companies are having trouble working with companies that are established in the new media. Brick and mortar companies having trouble getting information from eBay to investigate possible shopplifting rings and e-Fencing, RIAA vs. Napster, et al, and now Old Media Conglomerant Viacom vs Google.

In virtually each press release, the new media company brings collaboration and community as their piece to value chain, and ultimately promote in ways not understood by the older companies out there.

For the most part, the successful newer companies exist because they challenged the paradigm, and brought creative solutions to the table. I may be speaking in generalities here, but the Newer Companies internal company culture is one of promotion, recognition, and thinking outside of the box. Whereas, the older industries, and established companies seem to put too much empahsis on the heirarchy and process, and law.

Folks from the WWII era, who lived through the depression, were happy to have a job, and generally kept that job as long as they lived. This ideology was instilled in the “Babyboomer Generation” which makes up the typical older industries. That was how they were raised.

The 30-35 year olds, who are running the “New Media” companies like Larry and Serge of Google are more focused on skillset, and adaptability. A 30-35 year old is sometimes looked down upon at the Newer Companies if they lack varied experience. This can actually be a big negative.

So where are we going with all this ranting? Well, Google’s business model of identifying opportunities, and adapting, and catering to the customer is the opposite of Viacom’s model of Creation of content for the masses. We’re in an era where One Solution (or TV show, Song, et al) for all doesn’t work anymore. Today’s consumer of content is picky and wants specific storylines or screenwriters, directors, songwriters, etc.

It’s really not a question of who is going to do it, just a question of when the old media conglomerates are going to realize that dealing with the newbies is going to be a lot like how the Babyboomers of today relate, and work with their offspring.

It’s ironic to think that sometime, they won’t have to pass the torch to the new generation!

Viacom and other content providers can fight, sue, create their own website, but eventually, the Sumner Redstones of the world are going to have to still invite their sons over for Thankgsiving. (Sumner’s Son recently sued Dad for some reason. I hope that relationship going better, Sumner.)

I’ll shut up now.

Norman H. (profile) says:

Backwards thinking

I am a very busy guy and as such don’t have too much time to watch the shows I want. So what do I do? I download the shows via torrents and watch them as I can. I usually wind up buying the DVD set of the shows I watch plus I tend to tell other friends of the shows and get them usually hooked as well. So should I be sued into the poor house becasue I download the content then BUY the DVD later? I think not. Here’s another example. I recently downgraded my cable service and lost access to some of my favorite channels. A friend told me of a mini series he thought I would like that aired on scifi a while ago. I went ahead and downloaded the series and watched it. Now I am looking forward to buying it when it’s available on DVD. I am pretty sure I am not in the minority in this regard. The content providers have much to gain from making their stuff available for free download on their own sites AFTER they ahev aired on regular TV. I wouldn’t even mind if they placed a few commercials in the download. The very fact the people download their content should tell them it is in high demand and they CAN take advantage of this if they had any kind of imagination. We are no longer tied to the TV as we used to be. This pretty much invbalidates their current business model. When will they wake up and smell the possible revinue slipping away from them?

Mark (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Could Viacom have planned it any better?

1. In a huge public display, remove your videos from a popular website that does what it does well.
2. Have one of your own most popular shows mock your decision to do so.
3. See a video of that mockery go up on YouTube, where it’s available for millions to see.
4. Get your lawyers to have the video taken down, preventing fans (and potential fans) from seeing it.
5. Proudly host the same video on your own much less convenient site and then watch your infrastructure fail, effectively preventing everyone from watching the video (unless, of course, someone else has re-uploaded it to YouTube).

Really, that’s comedy gold.

Axl Pose (user link) says:

#6 “black profanity” as opposed to white profanity? what’s your point there

# Everyone else: An unfortunate result of being in this litigious society of ours is that (in the business world) it doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong, it only matters what the courts tell you. For instance, although Napster helped to unleash pandora’s box when it came to peer to peer file sharing, the record industry sued the hell out of it to have it shut down. This did nothing to curb the publics interest in file sharing, it did however set a precedent….that peer to peer file sharing is illegal and grounds for a successful lawsuit. If they had lost that case we’d be living in a very different world right now, one that we are inevitably headed towards.

I don’t agree with it, but large companies like Viacom try to use this in their favor. You have remember, the decisions of Viacom as a company aren’t solely dictated by the CEO and management, there’s also their relationships with other companies, expectations from majority share holders…etc. They will use every dirty trick in the book to try and keep costs low and revenue high so that they can please said shareholders while also lining their own pockets. It’s hard to blame them. In a capitalist culture that kind of behavior is the norm…if not encouraged.

The real problem here is the courts for failing to draw a definitive ‘line in the sand’ on the issue. Google would have never touched You Tube if it was an illegal service. In fact, it probably wouldn’t even exist in the first place if it were illegal. What Viacom is doing is trying to force the courts hand to the tune of billions. If they win Google will face an onslaught of lawsuits from other companies trying to cash in. If Viacom loses then Google, too, deftly plays the system and sets the precedent for development of a business model involving You Tube.

Both have a lot to gain and lose but with the public primarily on You Tube/Google’s side I think Viacom has the most to lose.

Regardless, the courts failing to take a stand on these issues is only working against them (or for you if you’re lawyer), more cases like this will force them to eventually choose a side, although it will probably come after endless appeals. I have a feeling Google will come out the victors on this (one can only hope) but I’ve been wrong before and I’ve learned that logic doesn’t always prevail in the US judicial system.

Sfranz says:

Viacom and You Tube

The web has always been successful for just one thing – whatever is easiest to do, will grow and audience. Make it hard – and people who are interested will go somewhere else.

I don’t have cable. I haven’t for several years – and in fact, didn’t watch many TV programs at all (coming off a severe withdrawal from home improvement shows, as it happens) until the Daily Show appeared on the internet.

I would be happy to watch it on Viacom’s site – except the bloody thing never works right.

After replacing my computer with a newer one with more memory and a better video card a few of the worst problems went away – but then again this week about every fifth video plays just the sound to a gray surreal background.

I suppose I could close my eyes and picture what face Jon will pull next and take a wild guess at what painful pun the writers and designers worked into the background graphic – or I can just go to a site that works.

The advertising is no big deal. The fact that Viacom’s site is always buggy really is.


jewellery (user link) says:


I guess you were right – the video was soon taken down. It won’t play anymore.
So much for YouTube presenting free speech. I suppose, it could have been the decision of the poster to take it down. Sure didn’t last long.
This is one of the great things about the internet – and about YouTube. That this sort of thing can happen. Pity that it wasn’t able to carry through, so that it could be proved that there is ‘open source’ philosophy at youtube.

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