As we Fools know well, your basic court jester conceals truth within comedy. Stewart and Colbert aren't too different, using their satirical "news" programs to mock the media and the figures it covers. Many people consider their shows more trustworthy and sensible than most traditional news coverage.
Viacom's suing Google for its alleged sluggishness in removing clips from Viacom-owned shows posted to YouTube. But if Google can place Stewart and Colbert under oath, Viacom might not enjoy their opinions of the fracas. I'm also wondering whether South Park's Matt Stone and Trey Parker are on Google's list, too. In a Reason interview last year, they didn't seem to mind how fans chose to consume their show.
YouTube's business model relies on its audience's collective ability to create a huge archive of any crazy clip imaginable. Where else can you see Crispin Glover nearly kick David Letterman in the face in the '80s, or compare ancient McDonald's ads with equally ancient episodes of H.R. Pufnstuf? And where else can you find a clip of that CNN reporter who unwisely volunteered to be zapped with a TASER? Oops -- that clip has been pulled since I saw it, since it was from Jon Stewart mocking the event on The Daily Show.
It's certainly ironic that much of YouTube's most promising material is similarly copyrighted, and the site is working on a video-fingerprinting solution to filter out unauthorized clips. But without odds and ends pulled from TV and movies, many observers have wondered whether YouTube will be left with relatively dull footage of piano-playing cats and such.
Don't look for any fireworks anytime soon. Apparently, depositions of folks like Stewart and Colbert, not to mention Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, won't begin until spring 2008. Meanwhile, it appears that the Internet is evolving past the current corporate-friendly strictures of copyright law, despite traditional media companies' determined efforts to stop it.
Viacom may have every legal reason in the world to go after Google. Still, I wonder what its fans will think of the company's efforts -- and what the famously truthy Stewart and Colbert will have to say about that.
And now, your moment of Foolishness: