Viacom Retracts Fraudulent Ownership Claims On Indie Filmmaker's YouTube Clip

Last week we told you about how Viacom was sending fraudulent ownership claims to indie filmmakers on YouTube. A few days after our post went up about how they were doing this to animator Joanna Davidovich, a Viacom executive got in touch with her to explain what happened.

Here’s Joanna:

I was personally contacted by an executive at Viacom, who explained how my film got mixed into their system. Juxtaposer was in a film festival that was presented by Nicktoons, which is of course a Viacom company. They offered selections of the festival as downloadable content, and Juxtaposer was one of them. They just forgot that Viacom’s rights to those films were all nonexclusive. He personally assured me that Viacom is no longer making a claim to my film and YouTube should be sending me documents affirming that shortly.

I don’t think this would have been over with nearly as fast if not for the publicity I got from your post. This could have been a nightmare, but it wasn’t. Count this one a success!

Score one for the little guy.

Viacom Apologizes! [Channel Federator Raw]
PREVIOUSLY: Viacom Fraudulently Claims Ownership Of Indie Filmmakers’ YouTube Clips


Edit Your Comment

  1. citabria says:

    “Nearly as fast” ? Try never…

  2. RodAox says:

    ok by the time i am posting this there are only 204 views and 1 comment….hate to say it but what publicity….? I am glad it turned out ok but to viacom we are all ants…. they are going after google and youtube…unless this was posted earlier or something then i apologize but if it wasnt i do not think viacom gives two Sh*ts about 204 people let alone a thousand….

  3. MayorBee says:

    @RodAox: This story, referenced and linked to in the very first line of the post has currently 16,328 views and 62 comments.

    It’s too bad Viacom has to have public scrutiny in order to do the right thing.

  4. RodAox says:

    i knew i was missing something… thank you for the heads up…I was actually hoping for this…

    Good Job CONSUMERIST… I hope we do not have to put viacom in with the two thumbs up crowd after they did this…

  5. evslin says:

    Well how nice of them.

  6. KashmirKong says:

    I thought this was the case. Glad to see it resolved quickly!

  7. Cocotte says:

    At least there was actually a logical reason for the Viacom tag. It’s not as random and draconic as it originally seemed.

  8. Gamethyme says:

    I wonder how many other filmmakers from the same festival are subject to the same thing – and didn’t get the added help of Consumerist publicity.

  9. tinywhisper says:

    Glad everything was sorted out, less glad to see it’s because someone wasn’t doing their homework before they started flagging things erroneously. Either way, it’s nice to see that Joanna’s hard work isn’t flying willy-nilly into their corporate domain.

  10. krispykrink says:

    Eh… I’d still sue them. Fraudulent use of the DMCA, attempted theft, blah blah blah.

  11. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    @krispykrink: Find me a lawyer who will take on Viacom for “fraudulent use of the DMCA”. I is laughing.

  12. krispykrink says:

    @johnfrombrooklyn: Yeah, I’m laughing too, that’s why I was sarcastic. In case you missed it… ;-)

    Laughing or not, I’m sure that if they get too gung ho claiming ownership over things they have Zero legal right to, someone at the EFF would mount a case against them. What they’ve done is the equivalent of me walking into the Viacom office and taking one of their computers claiming it as mine. Then coming back a week later and going “Oops, my bad. Sorry.” and giving it back.

  13. Trai_Dep says:

    Well, it beats what Viacom execs usually do with the artists they have under contract: grind them up and feed them to exec’s babies so that when they get a job in their folk’s company, they’ll have the proper attitude on artist relations.

  14. ? graffiksguru says:

    Score another one for the Consumerist and the little guy!

  15. sleze69 says:

    @krispykrink: I agree. They need to be taught a lesson.

    @johnfrombrooklyn: Universal isn’t laughing: [] The EFF is sueing them for the same reason.

  16. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    They’re apologizing because they were caught. Once they make a claim like this, they have no impetus whatsoever to justify it.

    And @sleze69: “…no such thing as obvious fair use.” !!!

    If the corporations didn’t own this country (and others), we’d have no DMCA. But I obviously overlook all the wonderful things corporations do…

  17. dequeued says:

    So when are the criminal procedings going to be brought against viacom for purgury?

  18. zigziggityzoo says:

    There need to be clear-cut rules and penalties for those who infringe on others rights like this. Viacom should be fined a set fee, and then punitive damages as well as lost revenues or fined for lost publicity.

  19. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @krispykrink: And you’d lose.

    @dequeued: Never. They haven’t perjured themselves, because it wasn’t a sworn statement in a court, and being wrong/making a mistake isn’t perjury – there needs to be the knowledge that the statement is false.

  20. bravo369 says:

    this and other stories like this just show that companies are not doing their due diligence before issuing take down notices. they should be made to prove or show their copyright and/or ownership to it with the takedown notice. I assume they don’t have to currently because if they did, they would have discovered that they had no legal right to the movie.

  21. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @RodAox: Companies are coming to respect the power this blog has, if my company was on here I’d be damned sure that a resolution was brought to the forefront ASAP!

  22. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I hope we do not have to put viacom in with the two thumbs up crowd after they did this.
    @RodAox: Oh, I seriously doubt that.

    Seriously, how hard is it to make sure you actually have a right to the content before slinging accusations left and right?

  23. snakeskin33 says:

    Screwups are more common than vicious attempts to commit fraud, which is a good lesson to learn for the four millionth time. It never made a lick of sense that Viacom would intentionally try to fraudulently gank the credit for an animation nobody ever heard of, and indeed, that’s not what they were doing.

    The filmmaker is taking exactly the right approach by considering the matter over and done with now that the mistake has been ironed out.

  24. sleze69 says:

    @snakeskin33: “Screwups are more common than vicious attempts to commit fraud”

    At what point do shotgun-type tactics of sending out invalid DMCA takedown notices cease being “screwups” and start being fraud?


    This large corporations are using the DMCA to bully a lot of innocent people. They should be held accountable when the go over the line.

  25. mariospants says:

    Hold on, if the OP presented the animation at a festival at which rights were granted (through Nicktoons) there likely was a contract in place allowing Viacom and its subsidiaries to show, promote, etc. this video in the context of the festival. Given that it’s an independant piece of work and possibly was tagged with the name of the festival (“as shown at…”) then it’s probable that Viacom assumed someone was showing a version of the animation acquired at the festival. So, in fact, they may have been attempting to protect the copyright of… the OP as well as the copyright of the festival.

  26. Walrii says:

    Solution: Every time a company makes a claim of copyright infringement on a work which they do not own the copyright to, they should pay the site that was forced to take down the material a small fee ($50?) for the site’s time and effort spent in taking down the work and any possible revenue losses.

  27. The sad part is it will always be easier to VIACOM to squash first and then apologize later, rather than be careful to begin with. When you are that big you get to do what you want.

  28. krispykrink says:

    @JustThatGuy3: Filing a DMCA Takedown Notice is a sworn statement by the requester, that the item they’re asking to be taken down is rightfully owned by them. It is ILLEGAL to file a DMCA Takedown on something you have no ownership rights to.

  29. brownpau says:

    This happened to me on Google Video when spoofed ‘Message From Anonymous,’ which used a time lapse video of clouds that I had made. The original video was pulled for a false infringement notice. apologized but Google still hasn’t restored the video despite assurances that it is back up: []

  30. InThrees says:

    So to all of you who claimed in the original story that this was simply because the matching software got a false hit, and Viacom wasn’t actually claiming rights to the film.

    No. They WERE claiming rights to the film, just like the rest of us thought.

  31. dopplerd says:

    I love the “oopsie” quality of the letter (“they just forgot”). When Viacom comes at you teeth bared they should not be able to just slink away quietly.

    I don’t think Viacom accepts oopsies when they are dealing with people they claim have violate copyright neither should Joanna.

    “I just accidentally filed suit against Viacom for violation of the DMCA, oopsie!” I’m sure the multinational media corp will understand.