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YouTube wins its copyright case with Viacom.

YouTube wins its copyright case with Viacom. (photo)

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When two corporations engage in legal battle, like oversized Transformers locked in mortal combat, it can be difficult to know who to root for. In the case of Viacom vs. YouTube, however, the moral advantage lay (just barely) with the Google-owned video giant, which had been sued by Viacom for $1 billion in copyright infringement (55% of what Google paid for YouTube to begin with, no less).

Viacom insisted YouTube had an obligation to immediately remove all copyrighted clips from its website; YouTube said they only had an obligation to pull videos identified by their copyright holders. The judge sided with YouTube; since they pulled all videos as soon as they were identified, they’re off the hook.

Here’s why this is good news. First, this does seem like some kind of karmic lesson. For a long time Viacom’s been secretly uploading clips through 18 different marketing agencies, often deliberately making the videos look messy to convey the impression of piracy:

Viacom’s efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.

Corporations can rarely get everyone on the same page, of course, but that’s going a little far. Either way, it wasn’t a factor in the judge’s summary decision in favor of YouTube — it was merely that their responsibility ended in removing the offending videos when identified. As anyone who’s ever tried to find, say, vintage MTV clips on YouTube knows, Viacom has been more vigilant than most in obsessively monitoring what’s on the website.

(First prize for YouTube watchfulness has to go to Universal, whose DVDs must have some killer identifying technology in them — most surviving clips are of people filming movies off their TVs. Surprisingly indifferent is Disney, who appear to have no problem with many of their movies being uploaded in full.)

06252010_beavis.jpgInternet pirates can be an outspoken/obnoxious group, full of rhetoric about freedom of speech, creativity and why prices are too high and their backs are against the wall — a difficult position to take when you’ve got a hard drive full of movies and a high-speed connection to match, but never mind.

YouTube clips, though, are the least of a corporation’s problems. If you want to watch a major corporate film from the last fifteen years or so, you probably don’t even need to torrent. Just run a keyword search, and pretty soon you’re streaming a low-grade copy of a film hosted — most likely — by a website based in Japan or China or by a service like MegaVideo, where users obsessively re-up movies as soon as they’re pulled.

Compared to that, YouTube isn’t that big of a factor. The reality is that this corporate whack-a-mole mentality is misdirected. Don’t worry about clips — most people are so intent on hunting down their favorite moments rather than watching a whole film that you might as well run with it. The battle to protect material will be fought film by film until (hopefully) a legal solution is found that people will actually pay for. It’ll be a case of pulling the movies one at a time, just as it is now.

I do wish, in any case, Viacom would knock it off a bit, if only because of weird situations like the “Beavis and Butt-Head” music videos — too expensive to license again for the DVDs, too good to be confined to VHS bootleg purgatory. Four months ago, a cache of B&B videos not available on DVD suddenly popped up on YouTube, and now I’m suddenly wondering if they’re one of the group of videos uploaded surreptitiously by someone at Viacom. Really, I’ll take any excuse to post this:

[Photos: “Anatomy of a Murder,” Columbia, 1959; “Beavis and Butt-Head,” MTV, 1993-97]

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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