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EFF drops Viacom suit over Colbert parody on YouTube

Viacom admits its takedown request of a Stephen Colbert parody on YouTube was made in error, leading group to drop legal action.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has dropped a lawsuit that it filed against Viacom on behalf of a group that posted a parody video of The Colbert Report on YouTube, which Viacom demanded be removed citing U.S. copyright law.

The lawsuit, filed in March in federal court in San Francisco, accused Viacom of misusing the law and infringing on the free-speech rights of the makers of the video--activist group Civic Action and Brave New Films. When contacted by CNET last month, Viacom claimed that it had not asked YouTube to remove the video. However, Viacom later conceded to the EFF that it was the source of the takedown order and admitted that it erred in asking that it be removed.

Viacom also has agreed to set up a Web site and e-mail hotline that people can use if they want to contest a Viacom takedown order. Viacom has promised that it will review any complaint within one business day and that it will have the video re-posted if the takedown request was made in error.

The tongue-in-cheek clip that was removed and reposted, "Stop the Falsiness," uses snippets from The Colbert Report, a program on Viacom's Comedy Central network, for parody. That approach is permissible under the "fair use" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.