Political comedy often is intended to stir controversy, but this doesn't usually involve broadcasting rights and the public affairs network C-SPAN.
The cable network asked two Internet video providers, YouTube and IFILM, to pull clips of Stephen Colbert's April 29 performance at the White House Correspondents Association dinner from their Web sites.
C-SPAN said it contacted the companies because the copyrighted material was posted online without its permission.
Both YouTube and IFILM complied with the request.
Colbert hosts a satirical current events show on Comedy Central and performed his comedy routine at the correspondent's dinner.
YouTube posted the Colbert video shortly after the dinner ended and received the letter to remove it May 3, according to Julie Supan, senior director of marketing. The Colbert video was viewed 2.7 million times in less than 48 hours, she said.
"Our community was really passionate about it," Supan said.
After removing the video, YouTube received a large number of e-mails asking about the missing clip, Supan said. A misconception that C-SPAN is funded by the government led viewers to complain that the Colbert video should be in the public domain, Supan said.
IFILM declined to comment.
C-SPAN is a private, nonprofit company and holds the copyright on the entire correspondent's dinner.
On May 5, two days after YouTube received C-SPAN's letter, the Colbert video was publicly available through an agreement with Google Video.
Google had been talking with C-SPAN about a partnership before the dinner, according to Jennifer Feikin, director of video and multimedia search partnerships.
C-SPAN said it chose Google as a partner because it agreed to post video of the entire dinner, and to include a link to C-SPAN's Web site.