Hiding the Evidence

One of the revelatory moments that took place during the tea parties on April 15 was the on-screen meltdown by CNN reporter Susan Rosegen, which we noted here. Covering the Chicago tea party for CNN, Rosegen got into arguments with demonstrators, abused them, attacked the tea parties as being promoted by Fox News and being “anti-CNN,” and generally revealed herself to be a liberal activist, not a legitimate reporter. We, and many other sites, posted YouTube videos of the meltdown lasting around a minute and a half. In addition, Founding Bloggers attended the Chicago tea party and shot its own additional footage of Rosegen continuing to argue with the protesters, which it posted in a YouTube video, preceded by the CNN footage that was aired by the network.

Now Patterico reports that CNN has forced YouTube to take down the version of Rosegen’s performance that Patterico had embedded, on the ground of copyright infringement. Further, CNN apparently also removed at least one version of the Founding Bloggers video, even though it included footage shot by Founding Bloggers in which CNN obviously could have no copyright.

Given that the YouTube videos in question excerpted just a minute and a half out of CNN’s tea party coverage for the purpose of political comment, bloggers are invoking the doctrine of fair use. Patterico is urging bloggers to embed versions of the Rosegen video on their own sites as well as continue to upload the video to YouTube. I note that at present, at least one version of the video still works on YouTube–the one we embedded in our post on Wednesday–and the Founding Bloggers video is back, too.

It is hard to avoid the inference that in this case, CNN was motivated not by a desire to protect its intellectual property but by a desire to avoid embarrassment caused by the unprofessional performance of its reporter. In today’s world, though, it just isn’t possible to track down all copies of a video and suppress them, when the video relates to a matter of broad and legitimate public interest. That CNN is willing to make the attempt reveals something, perhaps, about its attitude toward the public’s right to be informed.


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