Did South Park copy YouTube?
Viacom, Comedy Central, and the producers of the contentious animated hit South Park are being sued for alleged copyright infringement.
According to an exclusive from The Hollywood Reporter, a 2008 episode of South Park featured a spoof of the viral YouTube music video "What What (In The Butt)," originally performed by Sam Norman and produced by Brownmark Films. In the South Park version, the character Butters performs a version of the popular song that closely resembles Brownmark's copyrighted version.
The Hollywood Reporter explains the case against South Park:
Brownmark Films filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in U.S. DIstrict Court in Wisconsin [on Friday], alleging that the infringement is "willful, intentional, and purposeful, in disregard of and indifferent to the rights of Brownmark."
Brownmark is seeking a permanent injunction and maximum statutory damages.
"What What (In The Butt)" has received almost 34 million views on YouTube and has been parodied many times by YouTube users.
In June, Viacom, Inc. lost a "landmark copyright case" to YouTube. The cable giant had sought $1 billion from YouTube for copyright abuses, but a judge dismissed the suit before it went to trial. "Copyright protection is essential to the survival of creative industries," said Viacom's general counsel Michael Fricklas after a judge ruled in favor of YouTube. "It is and should be illegal for companies to build their businesses with creative material they have stolen from others."
UPDATE: Comedy Central contacted The Huffington Post with an official statement on the lawsuit:
"Courts have consistently recognized that parody enjoys broad protections under the First Amendment and the Copyright Act. We believe 'South Park's' parody of the 'What What (In the Butt)' viral music video that appeared in the 2008 episode of 'South Park' entitled 'Canada on Strike,' is fully protected against any copyright infringement claims under the fair-use doctrine and the First Amendment and we plan to vigorously defend those rights."
Take a look at Samwell's "What What (In the Butt)" video as well as the South Park parody below.
Do you think South Park crossed a line, or is this video merely another parody? Let us know in the comments.
WATCH: [via The Hollywood Reporter]