WHAS11 Fair Use Update: Day 5

There are over 2,000 WHAS11 videos on YouTube and more than 45,000 Google results for “WHAS11 video.” Surprising, isn’t it? If so much of that station’s footage is allowed to virally spread across the internet, why on earth would anyone at that station single us out for a mere ten video clips? What’s with the hypocrisy? What could possibly need to be covered up so badly? This behavior is obviously in retaliation for our criticism. And we must have struck a chord.

Over the past 24 hours we have heard from numerous reporters, producers and employees at WHAS11 and BELO both expressing outrage at the situation and supporting our right to use video clips under Fair Use. Two other local television stations and one in Lexington have offered support.

Click here to read the rest of this story…

Update: WHAS11 Shuts Down Page One/’Ville Voice Videos

Four days ago, WHAS11-TV (“WHAS11 News”) filed a complaint with YouTube regarding the posting of video comparing, contrasting, discussing and criticizing reports and incidents from around Kentucky. At 7:10 P.M. that evening we received notice that YouTube removed our content.

We believe our use of WHAS11’s video falls under the “Fair Use” doctrine. The same doctrine under which WHAS11 presumably operates when they use video from other sources in their newscasts without express permission. The same doctrine under which thousands of other outlets like ours do the very same thing with the very same content.

Additionally, a number of stories have been broken and first reported by our websites only to be run as news on WHAS11 without any credit being given. Meaning the station looks to our web outlets as sources of major news which the station then reports as its own.

WHAS11 has never contacted us to request that we remove the content. (Though, one employee has contacted us in the past in a less than adult manner, we remind you.) The station’s decision to label us as copyright infringers is not only wrong and demeaning but it has resulted in a major inconvenience to us and our readers.

Today we filed a formal counter-notification (PDF Link) with YouTube in response to the removal of our video content. As stated, we believe our use of WHAS11’s video falls under the “Fair Use” provision of copyright law in the United States.

As we resolve this matter we want to let our readers know what’s going on. We also want you to be aware of the extent to which WHAS11 has gone to stifle free speech and crush journalistic criticism. In this age of new media the actual media is attempting to silence its chief critic by making it impossible to use its content in a contextual matter.

Any person of common sense and compassion would think WHAS11 could learn from past experience. It lost several key reporters and anchors as a direct result of poor management and leadership. It hasn’t been long ago that it lost a multi-million dollar battle in court for knowingly reporting lies and distortions. We sincerely hope the station takes its community-wide reputation into consideration before embarking on a mission against the ever-growing blogosphere.

This is absolutely unfortunate and saddening. It is unnecessary. We have not harmed WHAS11 in any way, have not inconvenienced the station financially and have not performed any act with ill intent. If anything we have given WHAS thousands of dollars worth of free publicity– even the occasional well-deserved praise.

YouTube has a legal responsibility to restore our mistakenly deleted content within 14 days. WHAS11 and parent company BELO have 10 days to further contest our use by taking us to court where media watchdogs and free speech attorneys galore are sure to come to our direct defense.

We don’t wish to be viewed as bullies. We believe we have operated completely within our rights under the law. We believe we have provided WHAS11 and other media outlets with nothing but professionalism and respect. We hope the station gives us the respect we deserve by providing us an apology.

Click here to read more about “Fair Use.”

Breaking: Campaign Finance Violations – Library

A complaint has been filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance against those responsible for the Libraries Yes! tax proposal in Louisville:

  • Craig Buthod, Director, Louisville Free Public Library
  • Mary Griffith, Chair, Louisville Free Public Library Foundation, Inc.
  • Louisville Free Public Library Foundation, Inc.
  • Libraries Yes!, PIC

The complaint, filed by general counsel of the anti-tax side, alleges four serious violations of Kentucky finance law/KRS 121 including:

  1. printing and distribution of yard signs without required disclaimers
  2. distribution of advocacy materials without proper disclaimers,
  3. use of government employees for campaign purposes on business time
  4. mailing materials which directly circumvent campaign finance reporting requirements as independent expenditures.

Click here for a copy of the complaint filed with KREF.

Sources tell us that Ernie Fletcher is expected to make a statement in opposition to the Library campaign. Sen. Dan Seum (R-Louisville) is also expected to introduce legislation further closing loopholes allowing government employees to work on campaigns during “company” time.

Developing. More to come.

Rare Feat in Journalism

I crashed an ethics party the other day. I heard that they were serving up free lessons in journalism ethics as part of Ed Manasseh’s growing program over at Bellarmine, so I showed up uninvited. Plenty of big names in the room. At my table Wednesday were WHAS-TV’s Rachel Platt and community activist Christopher 2X. The conversation was stimulating, engaging, and often dealt with difficult issues. One issue was the way journalists must, as part of their duty, intrude upon the privacy of regular people in extraordinary, tragic circumstances.

What we didn’t know was that an extraordinary feat of journalism was taking place right down the road. The Lexington Herald-Leader, this week, is publishing a story that stretches into six parts and required 3 1/2 years to report. There were 8,000 photos shot to tell the story of a mother’s voyage through Fayette County Drug Court. One reporter, one photographer. There’s multi-media, slide shows complete with music and interviews with the subject.

It’s unheard of for a newspaper to throw this amount of resources into a single story. It’s Pulitzer-worthy work, but more interesting is the way the piece was put together, and it’s all chronicled in various parts of the paper. The paper’s “Behind the Headlines” blog gives an excellent, detailed account.

Expect plenty of national notice for the series.

Let’s Get Political

A Really, Really Bad Idea. Try to imagine what might happen if, say, the Courier-Journal and WHAS-TV and all the locally-owned Clear Channel radio stations had the same ownership. Or, worse, if that same company also controlled WAVE-TV. That would become a possibility if the FCC relaxes media ownership rules, which is what FCC chair Kevin Martin wants to do. Independent reporting would be the first casualty. Jobs would be cut. A corporation could control the debate on local issues. It’s scary, but if the Martin has his way, the rules could be relaxed this year. It’s a partisan issue, with Republicans lined up in support. The Dems won a similar battle three years ago. Expect a fight. And hope Democrats win. Call your Congressman. (New York Times).

Politicians Lie. Film at 11. The firestorm over our senior Senator being caught in a lie is big news. McConnell, caught on camera, lying about a propaganda campaign initiated in his office. Imagine that. The C-J editorial board weighs in today.

Gutless. McConnell’s fib was a subplot in the saga of the S-CHIP funding bill, which passed in both Houses but was vetoed by the President, supported by hard-core Republicans like McConnell. And every other Kentucky GOP politician — after all, the bill does include a big tax on tobacco. In Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate, it was disappointing to hear Beshear’s response to the S-CHIP question. He said that while he supported the health care initiative for children, he’s against hitting up smokers to pay for it.  Fletcher jumped on Beshear for supporting the bill, because of the tobacco stipulation. Maybe we should advertise Kentucky’s charm this way — Kentucky, a place where politicians still fear big tobacco.

It All Depends on Why You’re Asking. McConnell’s most likely opponent in 2008, when he’s up for re-election, is  attorney general Greg Stumbo, who told the Herald-Leader’s Ryan Alessi this week that he’s had an easier-than-expected time raising money for a Senate run, with $100,000 already in the bank. He’s expected to make a final decision after he does polling in November. Of the fund-raising effort, Stumbo, who ran as the #2 candidate on Louisvillian Bruce Lunsford’s gubernatorial ticket last spring, said “Nobody’s turned me down yet. That’s kind of a breath of fresh air. When I was calling for Bruce Lunsford’s and my campaign, I was getting cussed out every other phone call. So it’s been fun again.”

Still Going On. The gubernatorial race has been such a one-sided affair that lots of folks have quit paying attention. The latest bad news for Ernie Fletcher is this morning revelation in the Herald-Leader that not just a handful of people, but more than 250 people who gave money to his 2003 campaign have written checks to Steve Beshear this time. Ouch. There are even more so-called “smart-money” folks who have given to both candidates.

Debate Central. You won’t hear complaints that candidates for office not debating enough. Apparently last night’s bout between A.G. candidates Stan Lee and Jack Conway, televised on WLKY-TV, didn’t merit coverage by state newspapers. Not a single mention in the C-J or Herald-Leader.

Not Getting Along. When Fletcher and McConnell appeared together in Louisville to tout the UPS expansion this week, LEO’s Stephen George went along, but he wasn’t too happy about it.

It’s Been a Long Time

101707-leo-coverimg_assist_view.jpgYou haven’t seen my byline in LEO in a long time, but this week I worked with editor Cary Stemle to produce a little 3,000-word cover story on the library tax referendum. All those words, and we still didn’t get into all the odd subplots of a complex story.

My opinion is that the referendum, calling for an occupational tax that will raise $40 million a year and create a separate library taxing district, will not pass when voters go to the polls Nov. 6. Take a look at the story – I think it’s a pretty balanced look at both sides of the issue.

No one disputes the need for some financial help for the library system, but a lot of voters are against taxes – of any type. There have been just enough missteps made by the library supporters, along with a media-friendly bulldog firing up the anti-tax forces in Chris Thieneman, that will probably doom the tax. If that happens, we may get to see if Councilman Hal Heiner’s plan to move the Library Improvement Plan forward has the support of the Metro Council.

I’m working on some other ideas for LEO, including the return of the “Media” column. If you’ve got some ideas that need exploring by “Louisville’s Media Critic” send them to rick@thevillevoice.com.

Rick Redding

Humoring GLI’s Controversy

Remember Louisville’s controversy-stirring Brand Aid from a few weeks ago? Greater Louisville Inc’s strangely conceived attempt at a branding campaign dogged other metro areas and caused many of Louisville’s city leaders a bit of understandable embarrassment.

In a funny turn of events a group called Push for Cheese Films has produced two hilarious spots that take on the campaign from the perspectives of Southern Indiana and San Francisco.

Take a look:

Kudos, cheesy guys!

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Frosty Treatment: Don’t let this one go under the radar — last week Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office sent an e-mail accelerating the GOP’s campaign to slime Graeme Frost, a 12-year-old whose story illustrates why the S-CHIP bill that Mitch opposes is a good thing. The New York Times adds to the furor exposed first in Kentucky by PageOne. Oh, yes, the bill calls for a tax increase on tobacco.

Another Scapegoat? Are illegal immigrants the next frontier for the haters in our world? In Lexington, there’s a brewing controversy over a bus line that brings Mexicans to town, because A.G. candidate Stan Lee, with no evidence, said the buses import illegal aliens and drugs. Lee might want to compare notes with Metro Council member Doug Hawkins, who admits he doesn’t know how bad the illegal immigrant problem is in Louisville, he just wants to stop giving them services.

Sports and Politics do Mix. Billy Reed’s got more good news for Steve Beshear, comparing him favorably with Kentucky’s rock star coach-of-the-moment, Rich Brooks. He sees Ernie Fletcher more in the mold of disgraced ex-coach Hal Mumme. Does that mean Ernie will surface in a few years as the governor of New Mexico?

Late to the Game. Ad agencies in Louisville are playing catch-up in the move to the Web, according to a story in Business First by Terry Boyd that’s getting plenty of attention in ad circles. Boyd gathered some pretty interesting statistics, and opinions, from six local agencies. Like, did you know, that Internet advertising generated $4.9 billion in revenue in the first quarter of this year, 26 percent more than the same period a year before. Meanwhile, newspaper advertising is stagnant. You can’t really tell from Boyd’s story, but Power Creative, which has 160 employees working in five Louisville buildings and the region’s largest IT staff among agencies, is closest to “getting it.”

End of an Era at WHAS?

Last Friday, news director Aaron Ramey packed up a few boxes and left the WHAS-TV studio for the last time, much to the delight of many staff members. Ramey, who was brought to WHAS by former general manager Bob Klingle 2 1/2 years ago, was responsible for many changes to the station’s policies, its look and personnel.

Many of those happy to see Ramey go — he’s moving on to a similar position at the NBC affiliate in San Antonio — criticized his uncommunicative management style, and the departures of anchor Jean West and reporters Kerri Richardson, Tim Seymour and Jenny McLendon in recent months all may have had something to do with getting along with Ramey. It was the news director, too, who pushed for WHAS’ oft-criticized “Breaking News” theme, which pushed reporters to appear on camera at crime scenes, even when no other media outlet found the stories important enough to cover at all.

WHAS’ general manager Mark Pimental, whose TV background has been in news, now has an opportunity to bring in a news director of his choosing, and there’s optimism in the newsroom that the new blood will be warmly received, no matter who it is.

adrianna.jpgOne of Ramey’s last moves at WHAS-TV was to hire new reporter Adrianna Hopkins from WGXA in Macon, Ga. A 2005 graduate of the University of North Carolina, she’s spent the last year at the Fox affiliate in Macon. She starts at WHAS on Oct. 31.

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