Stephen Colbert and the Zeitgeist – Verfremdungseffekt Edition

The Colbert Report will always be linked with Viacom, YouTube, and Wikipedia in the Nation’s collective consciousness due to boardroom business, legal actions, and copyright controversies crashing through the 4th wall at some point. A few articles over the last week address news in these areas that may effect how we view TCR in the future. So here’s our special techno-zeitgiest for September 1, 2007.

Comedy Central just might be ready to enter the digital age
In their new contract with ‘South Park’ creators, CC helps establish a hub to distribute ‘South Park’ content on-line – I’m assuming this is not MotherLoad!

  • ‘South Park’ Creators Win Ad Sharing in Deal – New York Times:

    Now, however, Mr. Stone and Mr. Parker and their bosses at Comedy Central, a unit of Viacom’s MTV Networks, are attempting to leapfrog to the vanguard of Hollywood’s transition into Web. In a joint venture that involves millions in up-front cash and a 50-50 split of ad revenues, the network and the two creative partners have agreed to create a hub to spread “South Park”-related material across the Net, mobile platforms, and video games.

    All told, people involved in the deal confirm that it is worth some $75 million to Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone over the next four years. But what is likely to draw the most attention in Hollywood is not the richness of the pact, but the network’s willingness to share its advertising revenue.

  • South Park and Comedy Central To Split –

    Epidodes of South Park are amongst the most pirated, illegally downloaded content on the web, and this will be a way that fans of the series can finally get their fix, and bloggers everywhere can back up their report on the previous night’s episode with a legal clip of the series.

    Comedy Central’s got some of the most culturally relevant content on television (Daily Show, Colbert Report, South Park), and therefore some of the most referenced online. The creation of this hub can be a game-changer for the network, and maybe even big-media in general.

  • “South Park” duo draw up lucrative deal – Washington Post:

    Lightning may well strike twice at Comedy Central, which already may be negotiating with another Internet darling: “The Daily Show” anchor Jon Stewart, whose current four-year contract expires at the end of 2008. The current deal for “Park” was also scheduled to elapse late next year.

    James Dixon, who manages Stewart, applauded the “Park” pact but said his client is not concerned. “We’ll see what happens with his next deal, but ‘Daily’ is a different animal than an animated series,” he said. “A lot more than digital needs to be discussed.”

LiberalViewer uses Viacom fairly
I think most YouTubers know Allen Asch as LiberalViewer and are probably aware that his account was suspended back in The Great YouTube Purge earlier this year. Here’s an interesting article about how it got reinstated and what that means for the rest of us.

  • Media Savvy: Parody maker’s copyright fight with media giants takes fair turn – The Sacramento Bee:

    But Asch is speaking out to inform other bloggers and purveyors of consumer-generated media that they have just as much right to hold the fair-use banner as journalists in traditional media (newspapers, television, radio) and scholars.

    “One of the good things that’s come of this is that Viacom now has made a statement saying it will allow more (fair use) than before,” Asch says. “It’s going to err on the side of tolerance. In fact, I want to make a video about this to let people know they won’t get sued.”

    The use of photographs, video clips and music samples on blogs and Web sites has become so popular — and the legal blow- back by copyright owners so prevalent — that several legal organizations have formed to aid people in determining what constitutes fair use of material.

    The highest profile is Stanford’s Fair Use Project, which in the past year has won several major legal victories for Internet users, academic researchers and documentary filmmakers against copyright claims.


    “Viacom has proven to be fairly reasonable,” says Anthony Falzone, director of the Fair Use Project. “So I wouldn’t point to Viacom as the poster child of fair-use abuse — anymore. But there are a lot of other cases out there.”

Related Viacom and YouTube news
Related like a 4th cousin, thrice removed. Viacom still seems to not quite get it and YouTube continues to clean up its act.

  • Infringing Viacom claims copyright infringement –

    Christopher Knight made three commercials as part of his campaign to run for a seat on the Rockingham County Board of Education. He posted them on YouTube.

    Viacom’s VH1 ran one of the commercials on its show Web Junk 2.0, without seeking Knight’s permission. Knight then posted the Web Junk 2.0 segment on YouTube.

    Yesterday, YouTube pulled the clip, at the request of Viacom, which said Knight was infringing on its copyright. Link

  • Music stars set to reap YouTube windfall – The Guardian:

    The agreement between the MCPS-PRS Alliance and YouTube follows a similar deal in the US and though it does not get Google around the thorny issue of copyrighted material appearing on the website, it does mean artists will get paid performance fees when other people upload video clips containing their tracks.

    In essence the deal gives online video creators the same freedom to use music that actors and comedians have at events such as the Edinburgh Festival fringe, which operates a PRS waiver. But for online content creators, it is YouTube that picks up the bill for any music they use.

How Comedy Central views Wikipedia as an ally
Notes from a blogger of a roundtable d discussion of how to use Wikipedia for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO is important to any website that wants to be found by a public searching for on-line content. Not surprisingly, Wikipedia pops up near the top of any search result on sites such as Google. The snippet below notes some of the ways Comedy Central uses Wikipedia for SEO.

  • Wikipedia & SEO – Search Engine Roundtable:

    Next up is Don Steele of Comedy Central. He shows a clip of Stephen Colbert editing Wikipedia. “If enough people agree with it, it becomes true.” Comedy Central is a division of Viacom.

    Wikipedia is one of the tenets of their online strategy. They’re using social networking, email marketing, search, videos, etc. But their content is viewed as products and they are trying to find people’s content that they can trust and discover.

    Why do they care about Wikipedia? In the SEO world, it’s huge. They want to channel it and make it better. The content is highly referenced on Wikipedia. If there are links back to Comedy Central, they need to be up-to-date and not 404 pages. They need to focus on a good user experience. Comedy Central needs to use discussion pages to get their company’s word across.

    Wikipedia brings a ton of traffic to them.

    How did they sell the idea internally? There are 50 million users a month on Wikipedia. For branding, that’s huge to understand the reference of your brand. Getting all this traffic through Wikipedia is free instead of doing it through an SEM agency.

    What we don’t do: Google/YouTube vs. Viacom’s lawsuit is known. They won’t edit that out because they are not changing the brand perception. They work with discussion pages and editors and let them know about relevant content to promote it.

    Sean Penn was once on the Colbert Report with a guy named Robert Pinski. This was put on Wikipedia. That ended up driving traffic to Comedy Central through Wikipedia. Cool.

    Beforehand, Comedy Central was able to edit the pages, but now they can’t due to IP tracking. So they post references in discussion pages. Wikipedia editors are decision makers. They don’t troll for outbound links. They want to encourage conversations within Wikipedia.

Hulu, that YouTube, that you do so well
Considering that the press used to call it “YouTube Killer,” this seems a step up.

  • NBC, News Corp. name new video site Hulu – Los Angeles Times:

    General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal Inc. and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. on Wednesday announced the name of their new Web-based network of films and television shows: Hulu.

    The name was chosen because it is short, easy to spell and rhymes with itself, project chief Jason Kilar said on the Hulu website.

    The NBC Universal-News Corp. project, first announced in March, is designed to compete with Web-based video sites such as Google Inc.’s YouTube.

    The site will include films and TV shows produced by the NBC and Fox TV networks and the Universal and 20th Century Fox film studios. Revenue will come from advertising and the sale of program downloads.

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