By Kenneth Li
Viacom Inc. has requested that video Web site YouTube take down some Viacom videos, including shows by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, as part of ongoing discussions on how the two companies can work together, a Viacom source said on Monday.
It is not known which clips YouTube was asked to remove. But on Monday, thousands of Viacom clips of varying lengths of up to about 10 minutes each remained available on the top video-sharing service.
The source said Viacom, owner of the Comedy Central cable network, had sent a letter last Friday requesting that some of its shows -- including the popular "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "The Colbert Report" and those from MTV Networks and BET -- be purged from the site.
Viacom and YouTube declined to comment on the matter.
YouTube user Jeff Reifman, founder of Web site NewsCloud and a former Microsoft Corp. employee, said YouTube informed him in two letters of the removal of Comedy Central clips he had uploaded.
YouTube received "a third-party notification by Comedy Central" of copyright infringement, according to the letters, he said.
Viacom's demand comes after Google Inc. agreed this month to buy YouTube for $1.65 billion, which analysts said would intensify a push by media companies to seek a way to seek reimbursement for pirated clips or seek legal recourse.
Most top music companies and several U.S. TV networks including NBC Universal and CBS Corp. have inked advertising deals with YouTube.
News Corp.'s social network site, MySpace, said on Monday it had licensed a new technology from Gracenote to block the uploading of copyrighted music files.
Unlike MySpace, YouTube's policy is to leave it up to users to determine what to upload, but it will take down videos at the program owner's request. Its user agreement asks users to seek permission from copyright owners before uploading clips.
YouTube, which carries tens of millions of clips, also restricts regular user accounts from uploading more than 100 megabytes of video or clips longer than 10 minutes.
Professional producers, musicians and "amateur filmmakers" who register with YouTube are permitted to upload longer video clips, according to its Web site.
Internet observers including Reifman noted the irony of pulling down clips from Stewart and Colbert. Bloggers note that Colbert joked that he deserved $700 million of the $1.65 billion in stock Google plans to pay for YouTube.
The video clip of that particular Colbert episode had been removed by the user, according to YouTube's site.
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
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