Commentary

CNN Shows Its Thin Skin

In the latest example of a big media company complaining about a YouTube clip, CNN has demanded that the video-sharing site remove a video that incorporates some footage from the network.

The problem for CNN is that the clip, posted by the group Founding Bloggers, almost certainly makes fair use of the network's material. While courts decide fair use on a case-by-case basis, this clip doesn't appear to be a close call.

The clip starts with around 1.5 minutes of CNN reporter Susan Roesgen interviewing a tax protester at a "tea party" demonstration in Chicago. The remainder of the clip -- around 2.5 minutes -- shows a woman in the crowd complaining to Roesgen that her coverage was "not fair," in part because she wasn't "talking to regular mainstream people."

As is YouTube's policy, it removed the clip. But, as tends to happen, it's already been reposted.

Some observers say CNN has little to gain by continuing to fight over this issue. Intellectual property lawyer and blogger Ben Shefner argues that the network could stand to lose a great deal, because it -- like other news organizations -- often makes use of footage it hasn't licensed. "The last thing CNN should want is a precedent that says such common uses would subject it to lawsuits," Shefner writes.

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Regardless of the legal merits, CNN's takedown request has demonstrated, once again, the Streisand effect: The network's demand that YouTube remove this clip has only ended up drawing more attention to it.

1 comment about "CNN Shows Its Thin Skin".
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  1. Dave O'Mara from Logan Marketing Communications, April 22, 2009 at 8:28 a.m.

    You left out the most obvious reason CNN is fuming: its significant embarrassment over Roesgen's astonishingly partisan "reporting." That fact is relevant because it brings a new dimension to the digital rights issue -- what if monetization is not the only thing at stake for a producer?

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