What’s wrong with Viacom?

The question is John Dvorak’s — and it’s a good one.

BERKELEY, Calif. — I’ve been looking for analogies to describe Viacom Inc.’s recent demands that 100,000 short clips be removed from the YouTube video site. These clips, to me, represent 100,000 moments of free publicity for various Viacom properties, such as the “Daily Show” starring Jon Stewart.
It finally dawned on me that there was no good analogy, since this unprecedented act of stupidity was unlike anything I knew.

It wasn’t like someone finding a pot of money on a cab seat and making sure the rightful owner got it back. It was more like finding the pot of money, then suing the rightful owner because you were inconvenienced by the whole thing.
Make no mistake: Viacom’s decision was more like the person in the cab than it was “protecting copyrighted material,” which is the company’s claim.

First of all, what is an old 3-minute clip of the “Daily Show” worth on the open market? Seriously, what is its value?

Answer: zilch.