The Asheville Citizen Times' Executive Editor, Jewell Walston, sent an email to The Asheville Free Press this morning demanding that we remove the link to their video of a Black man, Jonathan Barker, being tased by Woodfin police.
One major problem with this demand is that the video linked in our story was not uploaded to our site and was acquired via the official "embed" option provided by the Citizen-Times. See below for a clip of how exactly we acquired this video. The Citizen-Times is fully capable of blocking video embeds if they'd like to and knew how to do so. It appears that they are unaware of this option, which encourages people to share their work.
Under most circumstances, providing a "share" code that can easily embed a video on another website is considered consent to share. We believe this falls under "Fair Use."
According to media law scholar and practicing media lawyer Jonathan Peters at the Columbia Law Review, the use of an embed code poses no copyright challenges and falls within fair use, as no copy of the video is made.
Someone who works with the Citizen-Times privately confirmed that they intend to proceed with legal action unless we remove the link.
Shoddy Ethics from a Multi-Billion-Dollar company
The Asheville Citizen-Times is owned by Gannett Company, a media conglomerate that generated $3.41 billion in revenue last year. The Asheville Free Press currently has a monthly operating budget of $600, which we generate purely based on contributions from our core team and our patrons on Patreon. We do not run any ads on our site, nor do we collect any data from visitors. In a nutshell: we are Free. We make $0 from our posts.
The Asheville Citizen-Times is demanding that they be the sole owners of the sole evidence of police brutality against a Black man so they can hide it behind a paywall. This video wasn't even captured by one of their reporters - it was obtained, presumably by purchase, from a bystander who filmed the incident.
The supposed goal of media is to arm communities with the information they need to act. For the Citizen-Times, a company 85% comprised of white people, that means locking down a video of police brutality against a Black man to protect their bottom line from a tiny community media project.
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