Originally posted 2009-04-19 17:02:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
CNN, copyright and censorship?
It is a kind of censorship, I think we can say by now, to cynically use the copyright laws to shut down embarrassing publication of obviously non-infringing works. It’s particularly ugly when media outlets do it, though.
Yet that’s what Patterico says is going on right now with a video that showed a CNN reporter being a little too partisan at a “tea party,” formerly available on YouTube (most recently reposted here). Let’s cut to the legal mumbo-jumbo, which is what we’re all about here after all — as Patterico puts it, “As to the validity of the copyright claim, let me turn over the megaphone to Ben Sheffner of Copyrights and Campaigns”:
CNN does own copyright in its own news footage and, as a general matter, has the right to demand its removal from YouTube. However, as to this particular video, I think Founding Bloggers has a very strong fair use defense. The purpose for Founding Bloggersâ€™ posting of the CNN footage is crystal clear: to comment on and criticize CNNâ€™s reporting on the â€œTea Party.â€ Such a use is right in the heartland of the fair use doctrine; the statute specifically mentions â€œcriticism, comment, [and] news reportingâ€ as protected uses that are â€œnot an infringement of copyright.â€ 17 U.S.C. § 107. To quickly run through the four fair use factors as they apply here: 1) the use is transformative (for critical comment); 2) the CNN footage is factual, not fictional, and was previously broadcast; 3) the amount used is small in relation to the whole CNN broadcast; and 4) any effect on the market is minuscule (and if fewer people watch CNN because this video causes them to think less of its coverage, thatâ€™s simply not cognizable harm). Many fair use cases are difficult, close callsâ€“but, given the facts as I know them, this is an easy one.