Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bubba slams Fox, Fox threatens YouTube

So I'm back in Vermont, arriving in the middle of the Clinton-Fox kerfuffle. Everyone everyone is talking about Bill Clinton's appearance yesterday on a Fox News talk show, where he responded to questions about why he didn't do more to catch Bin Laden after the U.S. Cole bombing with an angry tirade against the Murdoch-owned Fox and the American right.

An English viewer, raised on a diet of the Today programme and Parliamentary catfights, might not understand what all the fuss was about; Though he criticized the Bush administration, Clinton didn't say anything really outrageous. But if you understand the despondent state of the Democratic party in this country, you'll know it's a big deal. Confonted with a feckless Republican administration that has raped the environment, endangered the American citizenry and raided the country's coffers for their own benefit, the left has been almost bizarrely incapable of elucidating a response. Clinton's tirade "gave the Democratic party a backbone transplant" as Paul Begala said on one of the morning shows - in short, Clinton's outburst channelled the zeitgeist: people are getting angry, and realizing that we don't have to put up with this shit.

An interesting side story here is what's happening over on YouTube. Naturally, the folks who didn't see it on TV went there first to watch a video clip, and several people had posted it. But YouTube is taking the Clinton clips down as fast as they're put up, after Fox news threatened them with legal action. People seem to be reposting, but are worried about the site's culpability all the same: " er... how do we protect YouTube from copyright violations?" one YouTuber fretted. "Fox will sue them to kingdom come and get them shut down if we keep on posting, but if we don't, then Fox, big media, and the unjust law wins. Can we post under "Fair Use" or creative commons, or anti-copyright?
Is there any chance for us? Or do we just get battered by the law again and again, until we shut up like good little sheep?"

It's a good question. I think you can watch the video over at Fox News' website, but who wants to give them traffic? I have to wonder if anyone's been cheeky enough to try and post it on MySpace, which Murdoch also owns. While it's unpleasant to imagine as-yet tiny and independent YouTube getting menaced by Fox's legal heavies, how much scarier would it be if, say, Murdoch already owned YouTube, and could simply prevent people from posting the clip directly, or suspend the membership of people who tried to? This is exactly why journalists and anyone else who cares about freedom of speech need to pay attention to web ownership. While the low cost of online publishing makes it easy to set up new media outlets, the web is playing host to new and troubling varieties of media conglomeration, influence-buying and state censorship.


Anonymous Flatlander said...

Wow. I had no idea FOX was threatening YouTube. When I heard about it, I went right to YouTube and watched it.

I guess FOX wants to be able to control the spin surrounding the video and we all know what that means.

5:05 PM  

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