Chances are, if you’ve been anywhere near the Internet in the last few weeks, you’ve seen the hugely viral video of a New York City subway rat feasting on an NY slice. It racked up an impressive eight million YouTube views since it was posted in September.

The video sparked a plethora of copycats as people around the nation began posting their own versions of Pizza Rat.

But after weeks of repeated Pizza Rat content, everything suddenly went to a halt. If you feel like you’ve seen a dramatic decrease in the amount of pizza rat-related content lately, it isn’t all in your head. Pizza Rat has become a victim to copyright claims. 


According to The Washington Post, nearly an hour and a half after the video appeared online, Jukin Media Company found the video and immediately identified it as “viral video material.” Junkin’ Media, a company known for buying the rights to viral videos before they go viral and licensing the videos for free, snatched the #PizzaRat video at the first chance it saw.


But what does this purchase entail? With the help of Junkin Media Company, the original poster of the video Matt Smalls has his video protected with DMCA takedown notices for anyone who reposts the video to YouTube without permission. Although, people are finding the copyright guidelines might be more strict than originally perceived.


Mathew Ingram, a senior writer for Fortune, had his gif of #PizzaRat removed despite crediting the creator. The Washington Post even notes the gif it used to illustrate its original Pizza Rat story has since disappeared.

Mike Skogmo, a spokesman for Jukin explains to Wired, “the video has obviously struck a chord and kind of taken on a life of its own. But at the same time, that doesn’t change the fact that there’s an owner who’s entitled to benefit from the video, and control the fate of the video somehow.”


The Washington Post explains a recent lawsuit filed by the YouTube show Equals Three took Jukin to court over DMCA claims against its videos. Equals Three, a show notorious for taking viral YouTube clips and making funny comments about them, went against Jukin’s policies by monetizing the profits made from showing clips of other user’s content.

Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of Equals Three, explaining the content was able to be rightfully used, with the exception of one video: Sheep to Balls.


Judge Stephen V. Wilson explains,

“In plain terms, whether or not Equals Three’s episodes criticize Jukin’s videos, the events depicted in Jukin’s videos are the butt of Equals Three’s jokes. Thus, the jokes, narration, graphics, editing, and other elements that Equals Three adds to Jukin’s videos add something new to Jukin’s videos with a different purpose or character.”

Nevertheless, if the #PizzaRat viral story has taught us anything, it is that everyone wants a piece of the rat pie—even if it comes at a price.

[via The Washington Post]