Archive for the ‘vlogs’ Category

Video Blogger Sues Keith Olbermann

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

James O'Keefe (Image: O'Keefe, via Twitter)

Conservative video blogger James O’Keefe is suing liberal TV talker Keith Olbermann for defamation, reports The New York Post)

O’Keefe is an A-lister of politically fueled citizen investigative journalism. He gained his fame by going undercover to expose the shenanigans of liberal community-activist group ACORN.

Last week, Olbermann-show guest David Schuster called O’Keefe “a convicted felon” and said he’d been accused of rape by a former co-worker. It appears that, in fact, O’Keefe once pled to a misdemeanor charge and had once been accused of harassment by a co-worker. Kind of not the same thing. Or even close.

If that’s all true, it looks like a decent libel case to me. But since O’Keefe is a public figure, he’ll have to over come the First Amendment standard of showing “actual malice,” which can be hard.

I personally didn’t realize that Olbermann was still on TV. It turns out that after disappearing from MSNBC, he’s turned up on Current TV, an Al-Gore-backed left-leaning cable network, which, I guess, I had kind of heard about some time ago. Current TV is also named in the suit.

Referring to the “mainstream media” by acronym, O’Keefe tweeted: “MSM will say, do anything to take a stop a citizen journalist they can not control. Understood. I’m going to sue them for libel, each time.”

I understand that O’Keefe is venting, but referring to Current TV as “mainstream media” is going off a little half-cocked. Mainstream? I’m not sure I get Current TV in my channel lineup, and I get approximately 17 bazillion channels. I think O’Keefe’s slam may be the best compliment Current TV has gotten recently.

CNN’s Treatment of “Amateurs”

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Watching the coverage of the Japan earthquake, I find it disappointing that, in this day and age, CNN freely scrapes You Tube videos and then simply credits them to “You Tube,” without crediting the photographer. Then, they denigrate the footage by labelling it “amateur video.” Anyone who struggles to stay upright and continues to film while the ground is hopping around underneath them and while metal, glass, and concrete is crashing down from up above them, does not need to be categorized as journalistically inferior. Perhaps the subtle putdown of “amateur” helps CNN justify to itself its lack of respect for the copyright interests of the individual/non-corporate media. Of course, CNN expects others to stay away from any footage that originates with them.

Today I’m on TWiL on

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Today I will be on This Week in Law with Denise Howell, netcasting live on at 11:00 a.m. Pacific, Noon Mountain, 1 p.m. Central, 2 p.m. Eastern.

Afterward, it will be available as a podcast, episode 86.

Before the show, suggest topics on Facebook or tweet them on Twitter with hashtag #twil86.

Mall-Haul Vloggers and the Law

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Blair Fowler shows off snake-skin 4-and-a-1/2-inch gladiator heels from Shoes of Prey on her juicystar07 vlog.

The July issue of Marie Claire magazine (p. 75 in print, online here) has an interesting story by Abigail Pesta about shopaholic vloggers and the emerging YouTube genre of mall-haul videos.

Let’s explore the legal implications, shall we?

Marie Claire says that the fashion and beauty industry is sending “loads of free stuff” to the vloggers in the hopes of getting good reviews. There’s nothing illegal about getting free stuff. (Whew!) But if vloggers do go online singing the praises of their buddy swag-slingers, they’ll need to be upfront about it and disclose the relationship to viewers. (It’s all part of the new Federal Trade Commission guidelines.)

To see how this is playing out on YouTube, I watched a video in which juicystar07 (née Blair Fowler) plugged custom-designed footwear from Shoes of Prey. According to Marie Claire, Shoes of Prey got 200,000 visitors to their site after Fowler discussed the brand on her vlog. While I can’t be sure of which video Marie Claire was talking about, the video I watched seemed to introduce Shoes of Prey to Fowler’s viewers. The video was, in my view, entirely on the up and up. Fowler says in the video that Shoes of Prey sent her the shoes and that she has been talking with the firm’s “head honcho.” Fowler does not explicitly say that she received the shoes for free, but the implication is clear, I think.

(Also noteworthy: The video evidences solid production and post-production work. It’s a good example of the level of polish that can be achieved with citizen-produced media.)

YouTube is Cleared of Mass Copyright Infringement Claims

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Courthouse of the Southern District of New York in Manhattan (photo by EEJ)

YouTube has triumphed in a grand copyright battle against media companies and content owners led by Viacom. The case is important not just for YouTube, but for all websites with user-generated content, including blogs allowing automatically posted comments.

Judge Louis L. Stanton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, granted Google’s motion for summary judgment against Viacom for all claims for direct and secondary copyright infringement. The opinion is available as an image-based pdf and in an html document format. Google, which owns YouTube, has posted the news of its victory on the Official Google Blog.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act says that an internet service provider with “actual knowledge” of infringement loses the protection of the DMCA’s safe-harbor provisions. That makes the case seem pretty easy for Viacom. Everyone knows that YouTube hosts tons of infringing video clips. And of course Google knows it too. So doesn’t that mean that it’s a slam dunk and Viacom should win? Nope.

The court said, “Mere knowledge of prevalence of such activity in general is not enough.” An ISP’s immunity evaporates only when it has “knowledge of specific and identifiable infringements of particular individual items.”

The court explained what was at stake in the big picture: “To let knowledge of a generalized practice of infringement in the industry, or of a proclivity of users to post infringing materials, impose responsibility on service providers to discover which of their users’ postings infringe a copyright would contravene the structure and operation of the DMCA.”

That means that going forward, the Viacom and other content providers, if they want their content scrubbed from YouTube, will have to do the policing themselves, sending DMCA take-down notices, at which point it will be YouTube’s responsibility to remove it.

The court continued, “The DMCA is explicit: it shall not be construed to condition ‘safe harbor’ protection on ‘a service provider monitoring its service or affirmatively seeking facts indicating infringing activity….’ Indeed, the present case shows that the DMCA notification regime works efficiently: when Viacom over a period of months accumulated some 100,000 videos and then sent one mass take-down notice on February 2, 2007, by the next business day YouTube had removed virtually all of them.” (citations omitted)

Viacom has vowed to appeal.