Fox sends YouTube! a subpoena

Written by Brett Thomas

January 26, 2007 // 4:05 p.m.

Tags: #24 #fox #jack-bauer #kieffer-southerland #youtube

When you're in a time crunch, the lag of just a few days can be pretty detrimental. This is particularly true when your business is the season opener of one of the hottest shows on television...say, 24, for example. And maybe that show's premier is still six days away, but you find your show on YouTube. Subpoenas follow.

Apparently, the four-hour premier of the show was "preaired" on YouTube a week earlier than it was scheduled. YouTube has since taken down the videos (after a bit of delay) and suspended the uploader, who goes by the handle of ECOtotal. Twentieth Century Fox filed a subpoena after discovering the videos on January 18th, in hopes of determining the true identity of ECOtotal. While it was investigating, the company found that the same user also uploaded 12 episodes of The Simpsons onto YouTube.

Fox intends to go after ECOtotal with all its might, but has failed to note one important thing in the process. The first instance of the videos, which are full DVD rips taken from the concurrent DVD release, appeared on newsgroups the day before the YouTube incident. It quickly showed up on BitTorrent, as well.

If anything, ECOtotal is just a tiny little facet of a much bigger picture - for instance, how the real pirate got his or her hands on the DVD a full eight days before release. Personally, I wonder how much all of this legal idiocy costs, and how much of that is passed on to legitimate purchasers of the products.

Have you got a thought on the subpoena? How about the studio's choice to target the least useful person? Tell us about your thoughts on the tactics in our forums.

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