Patterico's Pontifications

4/18/2009

CNN the Latest Corporate Thug to Use Copyright As a Weapon to Eliminate Embarrassing Clips from YouTube

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:50 pm

I’m sick of people knocking embarrassing videos off YouTube with bogus copyright violation claims.

The latest culprit is CNN, a network that was recently embarrassed by a video of reporter Susan Roesgen cutting off tea-party protestors in Chicago, and assailing them with silly liberal talking points. The blog Founding Bloggers showed up on scene and caught her in further arguments with angry citizens who noted her biased coverage. I posted the Founding Bloggers video on Thursday.

But guess what happens when you click on it now?

That’s what happens.

As to the validity of the copyright claim, let me turn over the megaphone to Ben Sheffner of Copyrights and Campaigns:

CNN does own copyright in its own news footage and, as a general matter, has the right to demand its removal from YouTube. However, as to this particular video, I think Founding Bloggers has a very strong fair use defense. The purpose for Founding Bloggers’ posting of the CNN footage is crystal clear: to comment on and criticize CNN’s reporting on the “Tea Party.” Such a use is right in the heartland of the fair use doctrine; the statute specifically mentions “criticism, comment, [and] news reporting” as protected uses that are “not an infringement of copyright.” 17 U.S.C. § 107. To quickly run through the four fair use factors as they apply here: 1) the use is transformative (for critical comment); 2) the CNN footage is factual, not fictional, and was previously broadcast; 3) the amount used is small in relation to the whole CNN broadcast; and 4) any effect on the market is minuscule (and if fewer people watch CNN because this video causes them to think less of its coverage, that’s simply not cognizable harm). Many fair use cases are difficult, close calls–but, given the facts as I know them, this is an easy one.

That’s a very refined way of saying CNN is full of crap.

So what can be done? Well, Founding Bloggers reports that another blogger grabbed a copy and posted it to YouTube. Time to repost it:

And if they take that one down, well, I happen to have my own copy sitting around here somewhere. I have posted it on YouTube as well.

They’ll probably take our copies down, too. If they do, I’ll look for other sites to upload it to, or perhaps try to embed it here on the blog. And I may take Ben Sheffner’s advice and file a DMCA counternotice. If CNN wants to sue me, we can make this a test case.

In the meantime, I encourage every reader with a YouTube account to upload this video to YouTube. I encourage every blogger reading this to embed this same video to your own site.

We have to stop these thugs from reading fair use out of the law whenever they’re embarrassed.

FLASHBACK: Roesgen was one of the reporters primarily responsible for spreading myths about the racially charged “Jena 6″ case. More on that here.

What Would Jesus *Not* Do?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:32 pm

It’s the video even the athiests are scared to post!

This is unlikely to go over well on a conservative site, but I find it amusing. Anyone who wants to take it seriously ought to grapple with the issues raised, but it’s OK just to laugh.

Ed Humes on DNA, Probability, and Cold Hits

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:58 pm

In the latest edition of California Lawyer, Ed Humes has an article on that DNA controversy that the L.A. Times stirred up a few months back.

It’s a continuation of the L.A. Times distortions on this topic. Although I think Humes understands the issues better, I don’t think he makes them any clearer for the casual reader.

The article revolves around the case of John Puckett, a San Francisco man who was charged with murder due to a cold hit from a DNA database. This is the same man about whom the L.A. Times had written a misleading article, which expert David Kaye said had “mischaracterized” a key probability.

Humes is a clever writer who has a way with words. I have read and admired nearly all of his books — but I also recognize that he a) is an advocate for criminal defendants, and b) knows how to phrase damaging facts to downplay them. For example, when he tells us that criminal defendant Puckett has served prison terms for multiple rapes, Humes introduces the damaging facts with this sentence: “Still, Puckett was no Boy Scout.”

Humes writes:

During Puckett’s San Francisco trial last January, the prosecution’s expert estimated that the chances of a coincidental match between the defendant’s DNA and the biological evidence found at the crime scene were 1 in 1.1 million. This, no doubt, gave the jurors a compelling reason to convict Puckett of the killing and send him to prison for at least seven years—if not the rest of his life.

What the jurors didn’t know, though, and what the judge didn’t think they needed to know, is that there’s another way to run the numbers. And according to that math, the odds of a coincidental match in Puckett’s case are a whopping 1 in 3.

This phrasing seems to imply that the same coincidental match could be 1 in a million, or 1 in 3. This is the same error that the L.A. Times made in its article on Puckett’s case. He’s talking about completely different concepts.

The thing is, Humes understands this stuff better than the L.A. Times‘s Maura Dolan and Jason Felch did. And in a very clever (and slippery) move, Humes goes on to explain that both numbers are correct, and then uses the example of the “birthday problem” to illustrate why the two sets of odds are so different. This is misleading in two ways.

1) First, Humes never tells readers, even once, that the “1 in 3″ statistic makes sense only if jurors are told that the hit came from a database — because the only way to explain the meaning of the 1 in 3 number is by reference to a database. But generally, jurors are not told that the hit came from a database — to protect the defendant from being damaged by a jury’s inference that his DNA was in a database because of his criminal record.

If the jury isn’t told about the database, how can you make sense of the 1 in 3 number?

(Interested readers can read an analogy here.)

2) Second, Humes’s use of the birthday problem greatly magnifies the readers’ perception of the likelihood of a match, because the classic birthday problem doesn’t ask the likelihood that you will match someone in the room, but the likelihood that someone in the room will match someone else.

The chance that you will match someone in a room of 23 people is much smaller than the chance that there is a pair in the room that shares a birthday.

The bottom line is that using the birthday problem greatly exaggerates the effect of the database.

In my view, the birthday problem concept has little relevance to a trial like Puckett’s, where there is one man on trial who matches. The only relevance is whether the typical statistics given are undermined by recent data runs conducted by defense attorneys searching an Arizona database. The answer — misleading stories in the L.A. Times notwithstanding — is no.

David Kaye has promised a post on the Humes article on his blog. I will link it when it’s available.

UPDATE: Interestingly, Professor Kaye’s post and mine went up at almost the same time (a coincidence, I assure you). His post is here. I am on my way out the door and haven’t read it yet, but I will comment on it more later. I will note, however, that the first line confirms my own view: “This month’s issue of the California Lawyer perpetuates the confusion in the media about DNA database trawls.”

Indeed. Of course, the confusion all began thanks to the L.A. Times.

Dean: This Ziegler Guy Tried to Interview People Outside a Journalism Event

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:40 pm

Yesterday I linked to Marc Cooper’s site regarding the John Ziegler/Annenberg fracas, as Marc had some additional information and quotes from people. I want to highlight this portion of the statement by Ernest Wilson, the dean of the journalism school, because I enjoy the loaded way that he describes someone trying to conduct interviews:

After being told repeatedly that the event was by invitation only, he contended he had a right to range up and down the entryway with his cameramen, sticking a microphone in other people’s faces, questioning them on camera. He persisted in refusing to comply with the University’s request that he stay within a designated area.

Imagine the gall: he wanted to range up and down an entryway (i.e. walk around the entryway) and stick a microphone in people’s faces (i.e. try to interview them).

He tried to interview people! Outside a journalism event!

No wonder they put him in handcuffs!

P.S. Do they teach budding TV interviewers at Annenberg never to stick microphones in people’s faces? Just curious, Dean Wilson.

End of an Era: Patterico Develops Sudden and Violent Allergy to Soft Drinks

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:15 pm

There’s a tear running down my face now, and I think it’s just because I have been sneezing for the past five minutes.

Yesterday, I went into a four-minute sneezing fit as I was eating dinner. Minutes later, as I took a drink of Coke Zero, my nose tickled again, and I started sneezing again. I realized that I was sneezing every time I took a drink from the bottle.

It took me a while to realize, because I drink probably three cans of diet drinks a day.

I just figured there was something about the bottle. This particular Coke Zero was from a 12-ounce plastic bottle — a packaging I had never gotten before. Maybe I’ll just have to go back to the cans, I thought. I gave the mostly-empty bottle to my wife and said: “Take this. I can’t drink it any more.” I thought she would drink the rest, but instead she put it in the fridge.

Later, near midnight, I took the bottle out of the fridge and started to drink the rest, just to see what would happen. I started sneezing again. I waited ten minutes and finished the bottle, and sneezed again. The overwhelming urge to sneeze hit me the very second the liquid hit my tongue.

This morning, I drove my kids to swimming lessons, and took a can of Diet Dr. Pepper with me. I figured this would be different: instead of a bottle, it was a can; instead of a Coke Zero, it was a different brand of drink. I started sneezing in the car. My kids were laughing as I would sneeze every time I took a drink.

After swimming lessons, we went to McDonald’s. I sipped from a Diet Coke — from the fountain — and started sneezing.

I guess I have to swear off soft drinks. This is just weird, because it happened yesterday, all of a sudden, out of the blue — and I’ve never noticed a problem before.


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