In Test Case, Judge Upholds Late-Night Right to Show Youtube Videos

by | December 22, 2011 at 3:20 PM | Late Night, TV News

Jimmy Kimmel (Photo: ABC)

Late-night comedy was put to the test in a court case that could have put an end to a late-night staple — namely, funny Youtube videos.

As it happened, a Brooklyn judge tossed a lawsuit filed against Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show on ABC for using a Youtube video in a bit poking fun at Lebron James that featured Youtube footage of a Brooklyn man. That man happens to be the guy who sued because, his suit said, he didn’t believe “Jimmy Kimmel Live” or any TV show has the right to just put anyone they wish on national TV.

Philosophically, we happen to agree with him. But on the other hand, Youtube is a public forum where getting picked up by a late-night show is a distinct possibility, which means: You post yourself on Youtube and you take your chances.

The judge in the case didn’t really make that argument, however, according to this account of the case in the New York Daily News. Instead, he upheld the Kimmel show’s right to air the bit because the comedy was aimed at satirizing James, who’s a public figure.

You can read more about the case and the judge’s decision in the News’ story. We were interested to learn from the story that Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” faced a similar complaint from someone whose business card was featured in Leno’s weekly “Headlines” segment — presumably for some funny typo or name on the card. In that case, an appeals court upheld the bit, the News story said.

And so, Youtube videos of teen-agers crashing their bikes or skateboards, cats and other pets going wild, and clumsy Santas slipping on ice (these are especially popular at this time of year) are still safe to be used as fodder for late-night comedy.

Thank heaven, right? I mean, without Youtube videos sprinkled throughout their monologues, what would the late-night hosts do?

In fact, Leno had some wacky Santa video footage in his monologue Wednesday night:
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