TV Station Issues DMCA Takedowns On Videos Of Its Fake Asian Pilot Names Debacle


Oh, copyright, you crazy set of mixed-up laws? Is there anything you can’t censor?

The DMCA system is at it again, being beaten like a rented mule in order to perform a duty for which it was never intended.

Local San Francisco television news station KTVU has embarked on a novel use of copyright law to cover up embarrassing footage. It has been issuing takedown notices to YouTube for videos showing its anchor literally reading fake names of pilots involved in the recent airline crash at San Francisco International Airport.

While it’s true that KTVU owns the rights to the footage of its anchor maintaining a straight face while reading a list of bad jokes, it insists this has nothing to do with flexing its copyright muscle in order to cover up its bad judgment.

While many of the videos of the segment were still live on Google-owned YouTube, the reason why the Fox affiliate has been demanding their removal doesn’t concern copyright.

“The accidental mistake we made was insensitive and offensive. By now, most people have seen it. At this point, continuing to show the video is also insensitive and offensive, especially to the many in our Asian community who were offended. Consistent with our apology, we are carrying through on our responsibility to minimize the thoughtless repetition of the video by others,” the station’s general manager and vice president, Tom Raponi, told Mediabistro today.

First things first. If you’re not taking it down for copyright reasons, then why the hell are you using the DMCA takedown system? Noah H. Webster, it’s got “COPYRIGHT” right in the frickin’ name! Wouldn’t a polite note to the YouTube account holders stating the above accomplish the same thing (i.e., a minimal level of compliance)?

As for the arguing it should be removed because “most people have seen it,” I don’t even know where to go with that. Continuing to show the video isn’t “offensive.” Only the original act is. Pretending this has something to do with making amends for an earlier error is just kind of sad, especially when the station manager tries to drag viewers into his Shame Circle with “thoughtless repetition of the video by others.”

Also: “accidental mistakes” are the best kind. Also, the only kind.

The station manager wants to censor a video while claiming he isn’t censoring it, as though yanking it from YouTube with admittedly bogus DCMA takedowns is just part of being a good, sensitive citizen. But by doing this, Raponi is only making it worse. If he just could have left it alone for a few more weeks, something else would have come along to take its place in the publi— OMG! Someone in England had a baby!

But now he’s blown it.

This is the internet. No one puts embarrassment in the corner.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: asiana

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “TV Station Issues DMCA Takedowns On Videos Of Its Fake Asian Pilot Names Debacle”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

bad judgment ?
accidental mistake ?

No – it is clearly incompetence and complete lack of journalist integrity.

What I find absolutely amazing is the brain dead reading of text with no comprehension of the contents. Talking heads indeed.

This could potentially become a criminal investigation, aren’t there repercussions for hiding evidence?

As the Daily Show quite humorously pointed out, those aren’t even Korean names, they’re Japanese.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Those aren’t Japanese names either. They might be Chinese, but I wouldn’t be for certain on it without speaking to someone that speaks Chinese. I wouldn’t bet on them being any other language for that matter. The bottom line is that they’re jokes altered to look vaguely like asian names if you aren’t paying attention. I doubt the pranksters went to the effort of making sure those were actual names in a language.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Zero chance of charges – and I don’t think they should be filed. They HAVE the copyright of the video in question, so they aren’t violating the “under penalty of perjury” part. The rest is just deciding whether the videos are fair use.

But the case for fair use is extremely strong. I think it is often very strong with news clips that are more than a day old. The videos are not competing with the station in any way, because there isn’t really any market for old news (and in this case, incorrect news), and the station is certainly not going to claim they want to market it as humor.

egghead (profile) says:

More than one kind of mistake!

Also: “accidental mistakes” are the best kind. Also, the only kind.

I’ve made many deliberate mistakes in my life; mainly it’s to keep from sounding as though I’m correcting everyone else’s speech. I’ve also been known to make an honest mistake; one where the mistaken accepts something as truth when it’s later revealed to be false.

Anonymous Coward says:

Likely trying not to “censor”, but to establish a plausible argument should a lawsuit over the names be filed that it exercised reasonable attempts to reduce further publication. The fact it may not work is not the issue…trying to do something, even if you know it is likely fruitless, is at the least a showing of good faith.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: I'm wondering if the talking head's lawyers are involved.

I don’t think that was a brain dead moment. As an anchorperson, she is trained to keep her composure through gaffes like the one she encountered…Watch the videos of the broadcast. Before reading the names she was loose and yet composed, and you can tell when she had the “OH SHIT!!” moment in her head as she read the names she stiffens up. That was her overcompensation brought on by her professional training as an anchorwoman.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: I'm wondering if the talking head's lawyers are involved.

I’m wondering if the station cares a lot less than the female Ron Burgundy who went brain dead and read those names.

Nah. She’ll be fine. She’s the bubble-headed bleach blonde who comes on at 5 to tell us about the plane crash with a gleam in her eye. It’s interesting when people die.

On a similar note, there was a very uncomfortable broadcast a few years ago with a local anchorman reading the risque text messages of then Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on air:

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...