George Washington’s Blog
Friday, Aug 15, 2008
It is obvious that the government is hiding evidence regarding 9/11. For example, the government has claimed that no flight recorders were recovered from the airplanes which hit the Twin Towers. However, firefighters stated they did recover the flight recorders. And Dan Rather confirmed that they were recovered.
9/11 activists have repeatedly demanded that the government reveal the videos, photographs, and other documentary evidence so that we can assess the truth for ourselves (see this, for example).
Government Hides Behind Copyright Law
Not only has the government refused to share the evidence, it has threatened to dispose of it. For example, NIST recently responded to a FOIA request by saying that it would not share many videos and photographs but would – instead – give the originals back to the people who shot them (scroll down to comment titled “NIST Said At Least 50% Of Work Won’t Be Released”).
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The government’s theory is – apparently – that the copyright for the video and photos is owned by the people who shot them, and that sharing them with others would constitute copyright infringement. Specifically, copyright law states that the owner of the copyright can prevent others from duplicating or reproducing the copyrighted work. (Copyright is actually frequently used in an attempt to crush free speech and dissent, but that’s another story).
The My Lai/Zapruder Exception
Is there any way around the government’s copyright argument?
Yes, there is a possible exception, which could be called the “My Lai/Zapruder Exception”. As one court summarizes the principle:
Citing the exclusive photographs of the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and the Zapruder home movie of the assassination of President John Kennedy as examples, Nimmer proposes that “where the ‘idea’ of a work contributes almost nothing to the democratic dialogue, and it is only its expression which is meaningful,” copyright protection of the expression should be limited in the interest of public access to information necessary to effective public dialogue. Id. at 1 – 82-1 – 84. Nimmer explains:
No amount of words describing the “idea” of the massacre could substitute for the public insight gained through the photographs. The photographic expression, not merely the idea, became essential if the public was to fully understand what occurred in that tragic episode. It would be intolerable if the public’s comprehension of the full meaning of My Lai could be censored by the copyright owner of the photographs. . . .
Similarly, in the welter of conflicting versions of what happened that tragic day in Dallas, the Zapruder film gave the public authoritative answers that it desperately sought; answers that no other source could supply with equal credibility. Again, it was only the expression, not the idea alone, that could adequately serve the needs of an enlightened democratic dialogue.
Id. at 1 – 83-1 – 84.
Nimmer recognizes, however, that denying copyright protection to news pictures might defeat the ultimate First Amendment goal of greater public access to information by inhibiting or destroying the business of news photography. Id. at 1 – 84.1-1 – 85. The treatise therefore suggests a news photograph in which idea and expression are inseparable should be subject to a compulsory licensing scheme unless within a month of its making, the photograph appears in the newspapers, magazines or television news programs servicing a given area. Id. at 1 – 85. n5
Nimmer is the leading treatise on copyright law. So Nimmer’s opinions carry great weight.
I would strongly recommend that all 9/11 truth activists and attorneys seeking documentary evidence cite the My Lai/Zapruder Exception, and demand that the government release all of the videos, photos, and other evidence related to 9/11.
The same holds true for those seeking the truth about anthrax or any other issue concerning which the government is stonewalling.
This article was posted: Friday, August 15, 2008 at 3:27 am