So, here’s the story:

1. Chris Knight, candidate for Rockingham County (NC) Board of Education, makes a Star Wars-themed campaign commercial and posts it to YouTube.

2. VH1’s Web Junk 2.0 — geez, I hate that name — picks up on the commercial, which has become a viral video hit, and shows the video as a show segment, complete with commentary by Aries Spears. They do so without asking for permission to use the video, because stuff on the Web is free, right?

3. Chris Knight posts the segment of the show on YouTube, since it’s neat that VH1 decided to use his commercial.

4. The entity I like to think of as ViacomBot, dedicated to making sure no Viacom-owned content is watched in an unauthorized manner, sends a notice to YouTube to take down the VH1 clip. YouTube complies, because stuff on television is not free.

5. Chris Knight’s post about the whole affair is linked from Boing Boing and Slashdot, which means it will likely be linked from even more places, which means Viacom and YouTube get plenty of unwanted attention and drive lots of traffic to Chris’s blog, which links to the VH1 segment, now hosted elsewhere. It’s the Internet Circle of Life. 🙂

I like the suggestion given by several commenters of simply adding commentary to the VH1 segment, and then daring ViacomBot to take it down. ViacomBot might not be particularly sensitive to public opinion, and the interlocking permissions and business relationships could potentially give it an edge under the letter of the law, but turning it into a fight over fair use could be rather interesting.

Update: Valleywag too!