School District Claims Copyright To Pull Controversial School Board Meeting Clip From YouTube

from the copyright-questions dept

Danny Mittleman point us to the news that a school district in Evanston, Illinois, made a copyright claim in order to have a video of the public school board meeting pulled from YouTube. A parent of a student at the school had obtained the official video of the meeting, and had posted a controversial clip (involving an argument involving race) to YouTube. An official from the school, however, filed a takedown notice with YouTube claiming copyright, and YouTube (of course) complied. To be fair, the official who issued the takedown now seems at least somewhat apologetic about it, and said she really thought that the school district had a “proprietary right” to the film. The article also, properly, notes that while the federal government is barred from copyrighting its own works, it’s not definitive if that applies to local governments. Many assume that such works shouldn’t be covered by copyright, following the lead of the federal government, but we’ve seen cases where state or city governments have argued otherwise. Either way, the whole thing is pretty ridiculous. This was a public school board meeting, and someone could have just as easily filmed the same info with a cameraphone. Taking down the video doesn’t seem to serve any legitimate purpose.

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Comments on “School District Claims Copyright To Pull Controversial School Board Meeting Clip From YouTube”

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27 Comments
Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Streisand Effect?

Taking down the video doesn’t seem to serve any legitimate purpose.

Sure it does, it serves the purpose of making sure LOTS more people know what happened. People love controversy. It is the same reason many people will expand hidden comments. They want to know what made it hide worthy. I know when I see a hidden comment I am always at least tempted to expand it to see what was said. Sometimes I do. Just human nature and curiosity perhaps?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Dear Youtube

Under the DMCA, fair use doesn’t matter. If you file a DMCA takedown notice, the video MUST be taken down unless a counter-notice is filed.

I could literally spam YouTube with notices about any video, regardless of if they have ANY connection to me, and they would be legally obligated to take them down.

Of course, if they get a counter notice, then I go to court over it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Dear Youtube

Even if a party DID send numerous questionable notices to YouTube to try to overwhelm YouTube, it is likely that SOME of the posters whose material was wrongfully taken down would eventually go to court for a 512 injunction against whoever is filing all of the notices. This injunction might very well restrain YouTube from honoring those notices, thus sparing both YouTube and the parties asking for the injunction. The injunction would almost certainly be granted, since the notice-generating party is “out of the county, so nobody could go after them” – we saw this in Amaretto Ranch Breedables v. Ozimals.

TheStupidOne says:

Re: Re: Dear Youtube

Not quite right, Youtube is not legally obligated to do anything in response to your DMCA takedown notice. They do however put themselves at risk of being sued by you for copyright infringement, but if they know you are spamming, they can (and likely would) just ignore you.

Also if you did file false DMCA notices and the person who actually owns the copyright decides to sue you, then you are in trouble

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Dear Youtube

Well, yes, that was under the assumption that YouTube is complying with DMCA notices.

And yes, naturally falsely representing yourself will get you in legal trouble if anyone bothers to follow up on it.

Basically, though, 3rd party liability (or lack of) goes both ways. You can’t expect YouTube to check every file to see if its infringing, just like you can’t expect YouTube to check every notice to see if it’s proper.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

I'm not surprised...

While they may have sounded apologetic, I’m not surprised they tried to hide this. Evanston is in a weird geo-political place in IL, being directly north of Rogers Park in Chicago. If you look at it overall, Evanston is an amazingly afluent village with ginormous houses and income levels far above the norm.

The problem is that about a tenth of their populating is on the south end, butting up against Chicago. It is largely African American, poor, and the kids from those parts of town that go to the public Evanston schools (private school is relatively unpopular in Evanston, so they’re going with all the other kids) are treated like absolute dogshit. It’s a huge controversey in Evanston.

Now, I don’t know what the whole deal with the touch of racism at this meeting was. From what I’m reading, it sounds like one of the African American board members said that the standardized tests are unfair to the poorer community (which I’d be skeptical about). But I’m not surprised that there was an attempt to cover up the tension at the meeting….

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: I'm not surprised...

“In terms of the African American kids being treated like “dogshit” unless you have some proof of that you are wrong.”

Er, I live in East Rogers Park two hundred feet from Howard Street and played ball with a bunch of disadvantaged kids that went to ETHS. Sorry I can’t link you to my brain, but it’s true….

Anonymous Coward says:

The federal government is precluded (with some exceptions) from claiming copyright in a work prepared by a government employee. This preclusion does not apply to states because of Federalism.

Importantly, most states do have Sunshine Law statutes that require material such as this to be freely available to the public. Certainly, Florida is one of those states.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Taking down the video doesn’t seem to serve any legitimate purpose.”

Without copy’right’ school boards would never conduct any meetings. So these copy’rights’ are needed to promote the progress of bringing more school board meetings into the public domain by encouraging school boards to have more meetings.

Anonymous Coward says:

If “Standardized” tests are written in such a manner, that black americans can’t, aren’t able to answer them the same as white americans, then isnt that proof that blacks are not the same mentally as whites??

Now while you are backpeddling off that statement, that you made, understand that rhetoric crap is an excuse used by people who dont want to study, who dont really want to learn

Ask the black american how they earned their bachelors, masters, doctorate, how did they become a doctor or a lawyer or a scientist

when as you claim, blacks cant answer the question about the same book that they and the white kid read, really????

Billy Wenge-Murphy says:

Re:

>There can be no copyright on public meetings of ANY organization whatsoever

There can be, to the recordings. There’s no copyright on any meeting – although you could perform copyrighted works like poetry or songs or something.

You can only copyright the expression of ideas in FIXED TANGIBLE FORM. Sitting around talking is not fixed, tangible, creative expression.

It’s the RECORDING of the meeting that is copyrighted, and yes, it absolutely can be, though I would agree that it shouldn’t be for the most part.

The school here is abusing the technicality of copyright on the recording to silence speech. As mentioned in the article, had someone captured the meeting on a cameraphone, that person would own the copyright to the recording and could do what they please, and the school would have no avenue to chill the free speech of people who expose them as dirty racists.

>but takedowns are in order if the meetings expose trade secrets or business secrets of a corporation

That stuff isn’t copyrighted. DMCA takedown notices are specifically for copyrighted works, not information and speech you don’t like, so no it DOESN’T warrant a takedown and issuing a takedown over it may even be perjurous.

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