The Electronic Frontier Foundation has jumped into the legal fray between Viacom and YouTube. The group filed a complaint today (March 22) for MoveOn.org Civic Action and Brave New Films against Viacom for "misrepresentation of copyright infringement." The group claims that YouTube removed a satirical video of "The Colbert Report" after Viacom allegedly claimed that the video infringed its copyrighted material.

MoveOn and Brave New Films created a video called "Stop the Falsiness," which they intended to be a tongue-in-cheek commentary on Colbert's portrayal of the right-wing media and parodying MoveOn's own reputation for political activism.

The short film, uploaded to YouTube in August 2006, includes clips from Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" as well as original interviews about show host Stephen Colbert, which the creators intended to be humorous. Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central, allegedly demanded in March that YouTube take "Stop the Falsiness" down, claiming the video infringed its copyrights.

Earlier this month, Viacom sued YouTube and Google for copyright infringement in a federal court in New York, asking for more than $1 billion in damages. The media giant claims that the services offer unlicensed content.

MoveOn and Brave New Films, in their suit filed in the federal District Court in San Francisco, ask the court for an injunction and a declaration of rights. They claim that their video does not infringe any rights; they are entitled to create and make the video available to the public under their First Amendment right of free speech and under copyright principles of fair use. If a work is considered to be a "parody" of a copyrighted work, then that work would be a fair use of another author's copyrighted work.

EFF attorneys Fred von Lohmann, Jason Schultz and Corynne McSherry are
representing MoveOn, while Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig is representing Brave New Films.

Viacom could not be immediately reached for comment.

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