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Scrubbed! CNN yanking tea party 'embarrassment'

Posted By Drew Zahn On 04/19/2009 @ 7:40 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled


Screenshot of CNN’s copyright claim status on YouTube video

Cable television news network CNN has attempted to block a video on YouTube.com that shows “tea party” protesters in Chicago confronting the network’s reporter Susan Roesgen over her allegedly biased and “not fair” coverage of the event.

Members of Founding Bloggers.com were on hand to videotape the crowd’s response to Roesgen’s report. The reporter is seen badgering protesters on air and describing the tea party as “anti-government, anti-CNN, since this is highly promoted by the right-wing, conservative network Fox.”

Roesgen’s report included arguments with the tea partiers, tossing out contrary positions and demanding her subjects justify their positions, as well as an antagonistic interview with a protester whose sign read, “Obama is a fascist.”

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“That’s not representative of most of the people out here,” charged an unidentified woman after the CNN cameras were turned off. Confronting Roesgen, she added, “You are not talking to regular, mainstream people; you picked people to talk to. … We’ve watched what you’ve been doing here, and it’s not fair.”

The man Roesgen had been interviewing right before CNN’s coverage stopped was also captured by the Founding Bloggers camera, saying, “We don’t have any respect for CNN, because it doesn’t respect us.”

When the blog posted the video on YouTube – showing a portion of Roesgen’s report, followed by its own footage – however, the clip was scrubbed and replaced with the message, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Cable News Network, Inc.”

Founding Bloggers contends its use of the CNN footage falls under fair use guidelines, and it re-posted the film, which can be seen below. It also can be viewed at the website of KXMB-TV in Bismarck, N.D.

Editor’s note: The following video includes an instance of strong profanity.

News of CNN squelching the video in a copyright claim, despite the majority of the video consisting of original Founding Bloggers material, quickly spread through the blogosphere.

“It is hard to avoid the inference that in this case,” writes John H. Hinderaker of the PowerLine blog. “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.”

“Obviously we hit a nerve with CNN because they forced YouTube to pull the video down, along with all of the comments people posted,” Founding Bloggers responded. “We are in the process of consulting our Founding Bloggers legal team to decide if we are going to file a counter claim against CNN. We believe that we are well within our rights under fair use, but we are not attorneys so….we’ll see.”

Ben Sheffner of the blog Copyrights and Campaigns, however, is an attorney who has served as a copyright adviser to NBC Universal, Fox and the John McCain campaign.

“CNN does own copyright in its own news footage and, as a general matter, has the right to demand its removal from YouTube,” Sheffner writes on his blog. “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.’”

Sheffner adds, “Many fair use cases are difficult, close calls – but, given the facts as I know them, this is an easy one. … I’m surprised CNN made this claim in the first place.”

WND attempted to contact CNN for comment, but no one was available to speak during weekend hours.

 


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