Thursday, February 27, 2014

Copyright law conflated with physical intimidation in "Innocence of Muslims" case; more on videotaping police from Batlimore

Electronic Frontier Foundation is reporting an apparent abuse of the DMCA takedown procedure, and one which the normally wise Ninth Circuit upheld.  YouTube was told to take down a video from “The Innocence of Muslims” because there was a five-second performance by one Cindy Garcia, who says she was subjected to death threats after being tricked into the performance.  Her motive seems to have been using copyright law to get the section taken down to protect her own life (possibly family members).  This is the first time I’ve seen copyright used in connection with bullying or physical intimidation which we usually expect from political or religious extremism, authoritarian governments, or sometimes organized crime, perhaps even drug cartels.  Of course, in a practical world, many speakers can express these concerns more directly. 
Corynne McSherry’s analysis is here.
There is a distantly related story in Baltimore, MD today, where a college student was harassed by police officers for videotaping them from a cell phone while the police made an arrest, possibly improperly.  The Baltimore County police spokesperson said that there is a constitutional right to videotape as long as the photographer does not interfere with an investigation.
I personally do not photograph police activity unless there is something very compelling.  The student was Sergio Gutierrez.  The New York Daily News has a story by Stephen Rex Brown here, and television station WJLA reported it.  There was a similar case on I-95 between Baltimore and Washington about two years ago involving a motorcycle stopped by state police.   

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