Among the peeved is amateur filmmaker
Matt Hawes, whose video spoof of MTV's "The Real World" (a Viacom property), was removed from YouTube for alleged copyright infringement. "It was a parody of reality television in general," Hawes
explains. "No one bothered to watch it." Hawes wrote emails and letters to YouTube, Viacom and the Electronic Frontier Foundation demanding that his work be reinstated. Viacom later complied.
The EEF, a group devoted to Internet justice, says Hawes is far from alone. One staff attorney says the organization has seen a recent surge in the number of cases involving the misuse of the takedown procedure covered in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. "The shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach really ends up silencing speech because most people don't have the opportunity to get pro bono lawyers to help them," the lawyer argues, adding that media companies must make sure the content belongs to them before requesting that it be taken down.