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Uploading Beastie Boys' never-before-seen live performance on Chappelle's Show to YouTube seemed like such a fitting tribute to the late Adam Yaunch (a.k.a. MCA). That is, until Viacom took down the video for copyright infringement. And if stays down, nobody will ever see the video of that performance. Why not? Because Viacom says so.

Takedowns at YouTube are pretty common, but this Beastie Boys situation is different since it wasn't just a random user that uploaded the video; it was Neal Brennan, the co-creator of Comedy Central's late, great Chappelle's Show. The performance had never been seen because it was for the third season of the show that never aired after star and co-creator Dave Chappelle walked away in 2006. So, it wasn't like Viacom, which owns Comedy Central, was losing out on any advertising dollars or royalties or anything. The clip was just gathering dust. Furthermore, Brennan was just trying to pay tribute to the recently deceased Yauch, not rob anybody of their royalties.

But this is how Viacom rolls. They have no sympathy for pirates, even if they're well intentioned pirates. Viacom is the same company that's been trying to sue YouTube for a billion dollars -- yes, that's billion with a "b" -- for hosting and making money off of its copyrighted videos. Though it began in 2007, that lawsuit was resurrected this year and will go before a district court judge and possibly a jury who will decide if YouTube turned a blind eye to its users breaking the law. In the meantime, it appears they're going to  continue taking down each and every video on YouTube that they think might be theirs.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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