Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
dmca, joke, takedown

Companies:
whdh, youtube



TV Station Issuing DMCA Takedowns To Try To Hide Weatherman Making A Bad Joke

from the fair-use-anyone? dept

It's been well documented how many people/organizations abuse the DMCA takedown process to try (and usually fail) to make content they don't like disappear, even if there's a legitimate reason for it being up. In the latest such example, a weatherman in Boston made a comment that many considered to be... a bit off-color for the local evening news. In discussing the snowfall in certain areas, he noted: "Picking up some snow are we? Yes we are. In Princeton we picked up 9 inches of snow and in Billerica we had 7." Then there's a brief pause before he steps forward and says: "The biggest amount I could find--almost as big as me--about 9 inches."
The station came up with an explanation for the statement, saying that he had a problem with his monitor and was displayed funny -- and thought that the viewing audience could see him that way too. Perhaps.

Still, though, the station, WHDH, has been aggressively issuing DMCA takedowns over the video (who knows how long the video above will stay up), even though it's almost certainly fair use, and courts have found that those sending takedowns need to take fair use into account. Justin Silverman, over at the Citizen Media Law Project, explains succinctly why this is almost certainly fair use:
In this case there's a fairly strong argument that the 27-second clip of Bouchard is fair. The amount of the original broadcast used is very small, the purpose of the clip is to spur public discussion, and there is arguably no effect on WHDH's news market. It's likely WHDH either didn't consider fair use before ordering the clip's takedown, or it simply didn't care.
And that's an issue. The DMCA allows copyright holders to shoot first and not care later. And that's a problem, because it can put a serious crimp on public discussion (which raises some serious First Amendment questions). Yes, in this case, it's just an off-color joke, but in many other cases it could be much more important speech.

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  1. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 4 Feb 2010 @ 8:10am

    Re: Fair Use

    > before you get there, you have to admit to
    > having violated copyright

    Absolutely wrong.

    Fair use, per the Copyright Statute, is an exemption from copyright and by definition not infringement.

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