Man Who Used Facebook Live To Stream Birth Of Child Loses Bid To Sue All The News For Copyright Infringement

from the abort! dept

The saga of Facebook Live marches on, I suppose. The social media giant’s bid to get everyone to live-stream content that mostly appears to be wholly uninteresting has nevertheless produced some interesting legal stories as a result. The latest of these is the conclusion of a string of lawsuits filed by a man who used Facebook Live to stream the birth of his child over copyright infringement against many, many news organizations that thought his act was newsworthy.

It was in May of 2016 that Kali Kanongataa accidentally publcly streamed his wife birthing the couple’s son. He had intended for the stream to only be viewable to friends and family, but had instead made the stream viewable by pretty much everyone. Even after realizing he’d done so, Kanongataa kept the stream public, leading over 100,000 people to view the video — including some folks in several news organizations, who used snippets of the stream in news stories about the couple’s decision to stream this most intimate of moments.

And then came the lawsuits.

In September, Kanongataa filed suit (PDF) against ABC and Yahoo for showing portions of his video on Good Morning America as well as the ABC news website and a Yahoo site that hosts ABC content. He also sued COED Media Group and iHeartMedia. In October, he sued magazine publisher Rodale over a clip and screenshot used on the website for its magazine Women’s Health. Last month, he sued Cox Communications.

In November, ABC lawyers filed a motion (PDF) calling their client’s use of the Kanongataa clip a “textbook example of fair use.” ABC used 22 seconds of a 45 minute video in order to produce a news story that would “enable viewers to understand and form an opinion about the couple’s actions.”

ABC’s motion, embedded below, goes on to patiently explain to the court and, presumably, to Kanongataa’s crack legal representation, that the entire point of the Fair Use defense was to allow small amounts of works to be used for the purpose of commentary and in news stories. Were lawsuits like this one to be victorious, news in the era of the image would come to a screeching halt. And, since the stories generated by these news organizations centered on the newsworthy nature of a couple streaming this sort of thing in the first place, use of such clips and images was perfectly in line with Fair Use usage in their reports.

The presiding judge, Lewis Kaplan, appears to have understood this correctly, having tossed the lawsuit against ABC and the other defendants.

Judge Kaplan’s order shuts down Kanongataa’s lawsuit against ABC, NBC, Yahoo, and COED Media Group. A lawsuit against CBS and Microsoft was dropped in November, possibly due to a settlement. The case against Rodale is still pending and is also being overseen by Judge Kaplan. Kanongataa’s lawsuit against Cox was filed in a different district and remains pending in the Eastern District of New York.

This really is about as textbook a case of Fair Use as there could possibly be, leading us to wonder what in the world the legal team Kanongataa had hired was thinking in filing this in the first place.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: abc, coed media, cox, iheartmedia, rodale, yahoo

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 “Man Who Used Facebook Live To Stream Birth Of Child Loses Bid To Sue All The News For Copyright Infringement”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

One could understand his confusion…
Look at the takedowns on YT.
A 5 second snippet of a song gets your media taken down.
A bird call can be claimed by a label, who then doubles down that they OWN a wild bird song.
The only people who get punished are those without the all powerful copyright.

Copyright is completely screwed up.
The cartels like to pretend Fair Use isn’t a thing, and far to often they get courts to agree with them.
The problem is when a regular person tries to assert these magical rights other copyright holders have, but since they are not a corporate person they discover they have many fewer rights and leeway.

1 – He streamed it publicly and left it that way.
2 – The fair use was part of commentary on the story & his actions.
3 – We can only hope that losing these cases will keep him from creating new works so that he can try to support them by extorting cash from media outlets.

John85851 (profile) says:

Hold the lawyer accountable

I say this every time there’s a story like this…

There are 2 options here:
1) The lawyer didn’t know about Fair Use and filed a lawsuit.
2) The lawyer does know about Fair Use and files a lawsuit anyway, at the direction of the client.

The lawyer should be held responsible for either not knowing the law or ignoring the law to please a client.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

What was the legal team thinking?

This really is about as textbook a case of Fair Use as there could possibly be, leading us to wonder what in the world the legal team Kanongataa had hired was thinking in filing this in the first place.

It’s my property and I’ll cash in if I want to,
Cash in if I want to,
Cash in if I want to,
You would cash in if it happened to you!

Here’s hoping I don’t get dinged for infringement since parody is deemed fair use.

Anonymous Coward says:

If you’re dumb enough to put your private life on Social Media like this, especially open to everyone. You’ve given up your personal rights to that Data!!!

There’s any number of things he could have done to protect the Data yet only give access to those he wanted to and all having nothing to do with Facebook. Wake up people, the Internet is not just Facebook like so many younger people think it is.

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...