Kudos to Christopher Knight of Reidsville, NC. He is standing up to corporate media giant Viacom, which owns MTV and Vh1 among many other subsidiaries.
As first reported on his blog and picked up in yesterday's edition of the Greensboro paper "The News and Record," Knight, 33, is fighting Viacom because they have accused him of copyright infringement and taken off a video he posted on youtube.
The kicker is that the video is one that Knight made himself!
Knight has made headlines in the community before. First, for running for Rockingham County School Board with several Star Wars-themed commercials which ultimately grabbed the attention of "The New York Times."
And, just a few months ago (see earlier blog entry), Knight, who did not capture a county seat, came dressed to a school board meeting dressed as a Jedi knight to protest the school board's vote for a dress code resolution which ultimately did not pass.
It was in fact Knight's school board commercial which Vh1 aired on its program "Web Junk 2.0" over the summer with some quips from the show's host Aries Spears.
Knight posted the video along with Spears' commentary on youtube just last month.
And, Big Brother Viacom decided to arbitrarily take down the video citing copyright violation, even though the media entity had never asked Knight permission to show his school board commercial.
Gerald Whitt of "The News and Record" quoted Jeremy Zweig of Viacom as saying:
"If he (Knight) had transformed the clip in some way it would've been helpful," Zweig said. "Or if he just linked to our Web site, that would've been appropriate."
According to Whitt's article, Knight had several interviews including one with a Philadelphia radio station. Knight is steafastly accusing Viacom of hypocricy, and I certainly fully sympathize with him.
Viacom has, according to the Greensboro paper, asked YouTube to take down 250,000 videos. My guess is that Viacom will probably end up reposting those videos themselves since the California internet site is among the most visited places on the web_ they even have a video of my distant relative Kirgi Gokbudak (see earlier entry) dancing to a drum in a Turkish village!
In 2004, while making a student documentary film at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va., I had my own bureaucratic difficulties with corporate entities. My 8-minute short was about a comic book shop on Williamson Road in Roanoke, which went bankrupt a year after my film was completed.
I had asked DC Comics and Marvel for some kind of bureaucratic waiver so that I could show my non-profit film at festivals_ (since the film is about a comic book store, the likes of "Spiderman" and "Batman" appear throughout the film). One of them did not bother to return my email, while the other (I believe it was Marvel) gave some over-the-top bureaucratic assesment of why they couldn't oblige.
There are many documentary filmmakers and collegiate film instructors who have had redtape nightmares over copyright issues. I can sympathize with them over illegal dvds and cds, but not over this. In my view, Knight has every right to stand up to Viacom, and he fully deserves all the media attention he is getting over this.
Knight's blog: www.theknightshift.blogspot.com