Where Is That Stephen Colbert Video Now?

Stephen Colbert’s now famous/infamous performance at the April 29 White House Correspondents Association dinner launched an online firestorm. C-SPAN shot and broadcasted the video, which was immediately recorded and widely reposted online by enthusiastic Colbert fans, Bush detractors, media critics, and others.

C-SPAN, which holds the copyright to that video, recently asked the popular video-sharing sites YouTube and iFilm to remove the Colbert performance from their offerings. Both services complied. (Although, as of this writing, iFilm is offering an ABCnews.com closeup video of President Bush watching Colbert’s “audition tape” spoof — and appearing none too pleased.)

C-SPAN recently announced that it has entered into a non-exclusive arrangement with Google Video “in order to increase the Colbert event’s free availability. We worked with Google because they agreed to post both dinner segments in their entirety with links to c-span.org.”

Of course, the Colbert video is distributed far and wide, and is by now impossible to recall — from the fan blog Thank You Stephen Colbert and video-sharing site DevilDucky to respected media organizations like Salon.com (where I first saw it).

I can understand C-SPAN wanting to protect its copyright. However, when news footage “goes viral,” there’s no containing or corralling it. So the question becomes, what can news organizations do — if anything — to leverage such viral runaways? Please share your thoughts on this in a comment below. I’d love to hear some ideas on this.

(Thanks to Wired News for the tip.)

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