Fired for Questioning McConnell

We have just been alerted that Heather Ryan has just been fired from her job at the Maiden Alley Cinema in Paducah for daring to question Senator Mitch McConnell and catching it on video. (More info on the background of the situation here.)

Here’s an excerpt from Heather’s message:

It is with complete shock and utter dismay that I come to you this afternoon of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 21, 2008. As you may have guessed, a dramatic turn of events happened less than an hour ago while I was at my office in Downtown Paducah, KY. I was fired from my position as the Executive Director of the Maiden Alley Cinema for the incident in which Heaven and I asked Mitch McConnell about the war in Iraq.

It is absolutely unbelievable to me that such a powerful Senator would target a low income family simply to flex his political muscle. But believe it folks, I am now jobless, on the day in which we use to remember the great Civil Rights Leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., because I dared to speak out.

If you’re not pissed off you’re not paying attention.

We encourage you to contact the Maiden Alley Cinema to express your dismay. If you live in Paducah? Maybe you should stop by the theater to ask them what the hell is going on. 112 Maiden Alley, Paducah. Or just give them a call at (270) 442-7723.

Once Heather makes the video of the incident available, we’ll have it for you. It’s not looking pretty for Mitch at the moment.

Isn’t this despicable? Mitch McConnell. The man who professes such a love for freedom of speech and the First Amendment. The lone Republican standing for the right the right to burn the flag.  Cowering like a scared puppy. Getting a woman fired for merely exercising her rights. This attitude of ‘how dare you question my authority!’ has got to stop.  For McConnell and his people to exert influence like this is outrageous.

Where’s the mainstream press on this one? (HELLO, BIG STORY HERE!) Time to wake up.

LEO Updates Copyright Story, Kinda Gets it Wrong

We have to take issue with with Jennifer Oladipo’s follow-up story in LEO this week.

Pimentel said the two sides had reached an agreement about the station’s expectations for how its content would be used, but declined to give specifics. He said WHAS would look at how user-friendly locating (and therefore linking to) video content is on its own site, once its Web content manager position is filled. In the meantime, he said the station doesn’t consider use of entire news segments as protected under Fair Use, nor is content that is posted unaccompanied by comment — links or no links. But yeah, there should be links.
No one will discuss any quid pro quo, but evidence suggests that WHAS has agreed to play fair as long as The Ville Voice and Page One agree to play a little fairer.

We linked to WHAS all the time– when we could, as their site is nearly impossible to navigate and uniquely devoid of content. We most frequently link to Mark Hebert’s blog because he’s quick with breaking political news.

We’ll assume she doesn’t completely understand the case as it was explained to her and is referring to a lack of links to WHAS on YouTube itself– the only area where we’ve not provided links to WHAS in the past. In our YouTube video descriptions we’ll be adding a link to WHAS11.com. As noted in the story, our critiques and discussion hit the web within minutes of broadcast– often hours (or days) before the information is available on the WHAS website. So a generic link may be all we can provide. At least for the time being and until content is provided more regularly by the station. We certainly will be making a concerted effort to link back to original stories when they become available. But as we pointed out yesterday, our audience isn’t WHAS’s core and we shouldn’t be considered competition. (Side note: We’re hopeful that WHAS11’s soon-to-be-hired web content manager begins to make video available for embedding on other sites. The station can still make money by including advertisements in the clips. Linking back to an occasionally available Windows Media file just isn’t viable.)

Read moreLEO Updates Copyright Story, Kinda Gets it Wrong

Big News: WHAS11 Copyright Infringement Resolution Reached

Thousands upon thousands of people have closely followed an incident involving WHAS11 and Page One/The ‘Ville Voice over alleged copyright infringement. (Yes, we’re surprised by the sheer numbers.) On October 25th someone at WHAS11 wrongly filed a complaint with YouTube which resulted in the removal of video excerpts our media operation was using for purposes of important discussion and criticism, protected by federal Fair Use laws.

It turns out this is a case of much ado about very little. That’s not to diminish its importance. After a meeting last week, WHAS agreed to allow the videos to reappear on YouTube. We agreed to do a better job of linking to their website when we post their videos.

To recap, on November 7th the mainstream media jumped on our story. Louisville Eccentric Observer ran a feature news story about our battle for the freedom of speech in new media. We welcomed and encouraged the publicity. We love publicity. Any news is good news – that’s us.

The problem, as we understand it, was that our video excerpts were attracting a significant audience, web viewers that some at the station believed could have been watching the same video directly through WHAS11.com. We’re all competing for eyeballs on the web, so in their eyes we were a threat. And, one of our videos (like this McConnell story, for instance) did attract more than 22,000 views. So they were probably right to be concerned. Of course, a closer look at the traffic statistics shows that about 65% of our readership comes from outside the Louisville media market– not WHAS11’s core.

Read moreBig News: WHAS11 Copyright Infringement Resolution Reached

Major Press: WHAS11 Copyright Story Gets Mainstream Attention

LEO’s Jennifer Oladipo delves into the WHAS11 Fair Use mess as the paper’s Arts & Entertainment feature story. You’ll recall that two weeks ago someone at WHAS11 wrongly accused us at Page One and The ‘Ville Voice of copyright infringement. The accusation resulted in the loss of major video that was making a national impact and we were left scrambling in the midst of a breaking political scandal.

We’re glad the mainstream media is finally giving this story the legs it deserves. When the printies write about an issue it actually starts to mean something, right? So please take time to read the story and spread it around the blogosphere. And encourage your friends to pick up a copy from newsstands. Sticking up for new media is of major importance to us all.

Update: As a result of this story WHAS11’s management have approached us. We’re optimistic that a resolution is just around the bend!

www.YouSue.com: WHAS-TV goes after Louisville bloggers for posting its video. How far will the station go?

By Jennifer Oladipo

Right now on YouTube, you can find clips of WHAS-TV newscasts, everything from a story about a boy who died from electrocution by a garage door to an interview with the grown-up members of Hanson or footage of a cute but nervous puppy hurling on the anchor’s desk. Keying “WHAS11 video” into Google brings up hundreds more hits.

But there are 10 clips you won’t see, those posted by Louisville blogs The Ville Voice and Page One Kentucky, both published by Full Signal Media. The clips were used in commentaries about news coverage and other issues at WHAS. Page One co-owner Jacob Payne said he believes that’s made them a target: Two weeks ago, the station filed a copyright infringement claim with YouTube against Page One and Ville Voice for using those clips.

Click here to read the rest…

WHAS11 Fair Use Update: Day 7

We were informed last evening, October 31 at 6:31 P.M., that our counter-notification to WHAS11’s wrongful copyright infringement claim has been forwarded to the station.

Oct 31, 2007 6:31 PM
Dear Jacob,

Thank you for your counter-notification. It has been forwarded to the
party that sent the takedown notification. If we receive no response, your
material will be restored between 10 and 14 days from today.

Sincerely,

Harry
The YouTube Team

Page One and The ‘Ville Voice for updates to this story.

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.

We fully expect the individual at WHAS11 responsible for the copyright infringement claims to continue to deny our right of free speech. We expect them to spout off in an accusatory fashion or in some way to say the use of a news segment or clip (not an entire show!) is illegal. But we are hopeful new General Manager Mark Pimental will recognize that Fair Use is critical to freedom of speech in the United States of America and to the future of media in Kentucky. If we’re unable to talk about the news and share portions of it (as any other outlet would do) to tell our story– then how can we reasonably expect truth and reality to be a part of the news these stations air?

When critics are allowed to be freely targeted and silenced we move further and further into an Orwellian society. When sites like ours, Media Matters for America, Crooks & Liars, or any number of publications featuring video segments from news broadcasts endure censorship– our readers and the general public suffer unjustifiable harm.

We recognize that WHAS11 has seen their fair share of tough times recently. And we have pioneered the system for reporting those woes. But that’s no reason and no excuse for vengeful behavior.

Like Lying Governors, Hate Comes in Many Flavors

Special to Page One by University of Kentucky student Robert Kahne

MSU Hate 1Ask any student of the University of Kentucky about Brother Rick, Soulwinner Ministries, and the man dubbed “Crazy Old Guy” and they will invariably remember the first time their ears were assaulted with the words of these street preachers. It is a time-honored practice of street preachers to spread their message of hate in free speech areas at institutions of higher education. Recently, a street preacher at Morehead State University caused quite a controversy.

Here at UK, Soulwinners Ministries is a well-known group. This group of 4 African-American people and their children pop up on our free-speech area once or twice a semester, and hold up a sign decrying homosexuals, abortion, popular culture, anything sexual, and many other things. These guys always yell really loudly at passers-by and are always willing to argue for hours on just about anything. Soulwinners usually generate more debate and agitation than any of the street preachers because of their obvious commitment to their cause. Other street preachers are easily joked about because the things they say are so over-the-top and ridiculous that it is hard to think that even the preachers themselves take themselves serious. (See our friend, Brother Rick)

Now, Soulwinners Ministries are quite ridiculous. They claim on their shirts that “Real Christians Don’t Sin” among other things. They are also very hateful, saying “Homos Go to Hell” and such. Their jaunts to UK have always passed without incident; however recently, a trip to Morehead State sparked some controversy.

MSU Hate 6MSU Hate 5
MSU Hate 4MSU Hate 2

At Morehead, Soulwinners was met by dozens of protesters that spanned several races, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations. Many of these appeared to be kids from campus ministries who are pissed that their religion is being hijacked. Others appear to be homosexuals who don’t like the fact that hate about them is being spewed on their campus. Other people seem to be there just to see the show. Soulwinners and the subsequent protests prompted the Dean of Students to e-mail the campus calling on people to protest peacefully and to avoid the free speech area if Soulwinners offended them.

MSU Hate 3Free speech is a fundamental tenet of our democracy. The ability to say anything we want without fear of prosecution has been used effectively to end slavery, give us women’s suffrage, end war, and to fight for civil rights. However, with the good comes the bad. Hate speech is still free speech, and as a society, we would do well to tolerate those whom we disagree with, and to protest them peacefully. While I hope we all agree (no matter what our political affiliation) that the message of Soulwinners is laced with hate and malice, I hope that we also agree that the protests that accompany our objection should be in good taste.