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NBC Chases Web Pirates in 'SNL' Rap Attack

NBC sure knows how to kill a buzz.

Less than a month after demanding that video-sharing Web sites yank a widely popular "Saturday Night Live" rap parody dubbed "Lazy Sunday," the embattled TV network's lawyers are insisting a second "SNL" skit, featuring a potty-mouthed Natalie Portman, be pulled.

NBC says the strike against the Web sites is about protecting its content. But marketing strategists say the network is throwing away valuable "viral" buzz, a much-sought-after from of free publicity.

Before NBC served notice last month to video-swapping Web site YouTube.com to disable the link to "Lazy Sunday," the clip — which features "SNL" veteran Chris Parnell and newbie Andy Samberg rapping about cupcakes and "The Chronicles of Narnia" — racked up more than 5 million views.

The profanity-filled Portman rap, which aired on "SNL" Saturday, hit as many as 438,000 views on YouTube.com about 24 hours before the link was disabled on Monday.

The popularity of the videos is being credited with single-handedly revitalizing interest in the three-decades-old sketch-comedy series.

"I can't tell if they're being coy or just being knuckleheads," said Drew Neisser, chief executive of Renegade Marketing. "It seems like the clips are out there just long enough for people to get interested and then they're pulled. If they're actually pulling them because they're concerned about copyright, then they're being knuckleheads."

NBC has made both videos available on NBC.com. "Lazy Sunday" can be downloaded on Apple's iTunes for $1.99.

The network has asked YouTube and other sites to pull more than 2,000 NBC clips.