[posted by Justin Levine]
KFI’s John Ziegler claims to have sources in ABC now confirming that they have caved to pressure on the “Path To 9/11” by editing some key scenes that Clinton officials were objecting to. Many others have been hearing similar stories.
I can’t confirm the precise nature of the cuts, so its difficult for me to comment on it at this juncture. I’ve heard they involve a key scene where Sandy Berger refuses to give the final go-ahead to take out Bin Laden, but I am hearing all of this second-hand.
[Ziegler actually played a remarkable sound cut of actor Donnie Wahlberg suggesting that the original cut of the film that was set to air actually took it easy on the Clinton Administration based on some of the historical accounts that he has read.]
We will have to wait until this weekend to know for sure if anything of substance has been changed or not.
But regardless of what (if anything) was actually cut (or the issue of its justification) – this gives me a good opportunity to test the resolve of the Patterico readership on one of my pet issues:
Let’s say that it turns out that “The Path To 9/11” has indeed been cut specifically in order to shield Clinton officials from criticism. Let us also say that some of us could easily break the encryption of our original preview discs (thus likely breaking the law under the DMCA) and start making copies of the original “director’s cut” of the film for those who wish to see it. (Let’s also assume that this original version could also be posted to the Internet.)
Many of you are so militant about copyright protections that you believe it is perfectly reasonable to use such rights in order to effectuate political/viewpoint censorship – completely divorced from issues of financial incentives for creating new works. (Most of you know who you are.)
Would you still maintain that having access to this original “director’s cut” would be a form of “theft”? Or would you describe it as Fair Use? Would you be willing to accept a world where only a few elites have seen the original version of this film (and thus always be at a disadvantage to them when debating the merits of this controversy)?
Does the fact that the “Clintonized” version (for lack of a better term) will be offered for free affect your thinking on this issue? What if the changes made are palpable, but subtle?
From my point of view, the issue is simple: If you abuse copyrights to try and completely suppress a work from the public for all time, then Fair Use rights should correspondingly expand in a parallel fashion in order to ensure that such copyright abuse does not happen.
I would also argue that a strong First Amendment defense should exist against the DMCA. Free speech rights become a hollow joke if society doesn’t have a basic right to access the information surrounding it.
[posted by Justin Levine]