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.