Saturday, February 12, 2011

If It's A Public Meeting, Who Owns The Video?

This is interesting:

An Evanston dad was hoping for a response when he posted a video clip on YouTube that showed a heated exchange touching on race during a public school board meeting.

But the fallout that ensued had as much to do with legal questions, after an official with the Evanston-Skokie School District 65 cited copyright infringement and successfully asked the video website to remove the original clip.

YouTube complied — and the father, Becket Strom, responded by posting several more video snippets taken from the same Jan. 24 board meeting.

Strom, who said someone gave him the video after obtaining it from the district, said he wanted to show how the superintendent's behavior is "problematic to the community."

Now school officials have asked their lawyer to weigh in.

"Obviously, someone can come in and record an open meeting," said John Relias, an attorney who represents District 65.

But because the video may have been taken from a DVD provided by the district, "it's a very complicated question."

"Just because it could be obtained through a FOIA (federal Freedom of Information Act) does not automatically give the person a right to post to YouTube," Relias said.

I'm curious to see how this turns out. Absent deeper thought on the subject, I'm presently inclined to support the parent on this one.


Curmudgeon said...

The person who took the video owns it. Around here, it would be the cable tv public access station. If the school hired someone to make the video, then it is public information but copyright laws vary.

The minutes are public domain, but not the video.

Of course, I can't think of a better way to be certain that everyone watches it than to sue to have it taken down.

Darren said...

What if the school district produced the video?

MikeAT said...


We've had a similar discussion on police actions in public. Again if it's in an open area (and even a Harvard ed-r-cated federal judge may agree that a public meeting of a school board is in public) there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Now I've got questions of the DVD. Basically who paid for it and what was it for. If the school board (aka public paid for it) and it was for documentary purposes (hey public we actually do talk and scream to justify our jobs!) then I see is as the public's property...and there is not a copyright issue.

Sounds like a politician (i.e. the school board members) covering their asses).

Darren said...

That's kinda my take, absent information to the contrary.

BigSwede said...

Thanks for furthering the cause by posting this issue to your blog.