'Andy Griffith Show' CBS Sues YouTuber for Stealing ... We're No Deputy Fife!

12/1/2016 4:09 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

1201_andy_griffith_show_cbs_compositeA YouTube channel featuring TV classics like "The Andy Griffith Show" is run by a lowdown crook making money off other people's work ... according to CBS.

In a lawsuit, the network says 8thManDVD.com -- run by Edward Heldman III -- has racked up over 2.5 million views, by posting 16 episodes of the beloved sitcom. CBS alerted YouTube to nip it in the bud and remove the vids, which it did. Temporarily.

Heldman fought back and, according to docs, got the episodes reposted by claiming they were in the public domain. CBS says public domain doesn't matter because the shows contain copyrighted characters like Deputy Barney Fife, Sheriff Andy and of course ... Opie.

Heldman insists he's in the clear because he "remastered" the episodes -- which he believes makes them new and available for his use. He also claims CBS is trying to abuse copyright law.

CBS is suing to get the vids taken down for good, and to grab Heldman's profits from them.