YouTube, facing legal threats from several media companies, has requested that comedians Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert act as witnesses in the popular video site's defense against claims that it illegally shows snippets of sports and entertainment videos. Viacom, owner of MTV, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central; The Football Association Premier League Ltd., England's top soccer league; and indie music publisher Bourne Co.
all maintain that YouTube is profiting from massive copyright infringement of television programs and feature films. In order to fight these legal challenges which "threaten to silence communications by hundreds of millions of people across the globe who exchange information, news and entertainment," YouTube claims it needs depositions from more than 30 people.
Although the video site did not state exactly what it wanted to gain from the statements of Colbert and Stewart, YouTube's defense is based on its claims that it goes over and beyond the call of duty when enforcing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA); this law gives service providers protection from copyright lawsuits as long as they comply with requests to remove unauthorized material - something YouTube says it does. Viacom seeks $1 billion in damages for what it says is unauthorized viewing of programs from its networks; in their lawsuit, the soccer league and indie music publisher sought unspecified damages and any profits YouTube made as a result of the sharing of copyrighted videos. The lawsuits were combined into a single trial.