Will YouTube decide the next President?

May 1, 2007

News:  Mary Anne Ostrom of the San Jose Mercury News has an insightful analyzing “The YouTube factor” in the presidential election.

Analysis:  It’s too early to tell how big an impact YouTube will have in deciding the next President, but it certainly has had some impact already.  All of the candidates would not be sharing videos on YouTube if they didn’t believe YouTube was an important tool.  The real wildcards, however, are the user-generated videos, like the Hilary 1984 video and “I feel pretty” video mocking John Edwards.  There will no doubt be more of these negative videos, upcoming.  Stay tuned.

U.S. Supreme Court uses + releases video tape of high-speed police chase

May 1, 2007

News: The U.S. Supreme Court held that law enforcement officers cannot be held liable for injuries sustained in a high speed chase in the following circumstancs: “A police officer’s attempt to terminate a dangerous high-speed car chase that threatens the lives of innocent bystanders does not violate the Fourth Amendment, even when it places the fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury or death.”

In the case, Scott v. Harris, after being caught speeding 73 mph in a 55 mph zone, Victor Harris (then 19 years old) fled police in his car for 6 minutes and 10 seconds, hitting 85 mph at times, but was forced off the road by a police car driven by Timothy Scott who bumped into Harris’s car. Harris sustained severe, paralyzing injuries, becoming a quadriplegic. You can hear on the video tape that the police officers immediately suspected that the car crash was pretty bad, and, if I heard correctly, the police wondered if the driver was “dead.” As soon as one officer took a look into the car, he came running out and yelled, “We need an ambulance!”

Harris sued the officers for using unreasonable force in violation of his 4th amendment rights. The Supreme Court rejected Harris’s claim, holding that there was no 4th amendment violation under these circumstances (meaning the police officer’s conduct was not unreasonable).

Analysis: An amazing part of the opinion is the Court’s use of the video tape taken by the police during the chase. Even more amazing is the fact that the Court published the video along with the opinion (go to Scott v. Harris) and invited people to judge for themselves about how the facts really unfolded. The crash occurred at 6 minutes, 10-15 seconds. According to the Court, the videotape refuted the version of facts described by the lower appellate court.

This is highly unusual. I am not aware of any other instance in which the Supreme Court has published video evidence along with one of its opinions. But I think it shows the growing influence of videos to all different aspects of our lives, from presidential elections to Supreme Court decisions. That the Supreme Court would decide to publish the video tape of Harris’s fleeing of police that led to his crash and quadriplegic status shows that even the camera-shy, traditionalist Supreme Court is not immune itself to caving to the lure of video. Sure enough, the video has hit YouTube now.

Police Car 1

Police Car 2 (Officer Scott)

Google/YouTube file response to Viacom copyright lawsuit

May 1, 2007

More here. (I will try to get my hands on the 12-page response to analyze it.)

UPDATE:  Google/YouTube’s Answer (link below in comments) is pretty bare bones — which is fairly typical for an answer.  Besides the first paragraph, the Answer is pretty rudimentary, if not downright boring.  Mostly pro forma denials, sprinkled in with a few admissions of facts by Google/YouTube.  Google/YouTube will (of course) be making the DMCA safe harbor the center piece of its defense.  Here are a couple things to note: 

1.  I’m a little surprised there’s no mention of the Netcom type defense, although it may not be an affirmative defense that has to be plead (I’m not sure). 

2.  Also, the biggest surprise was that Google’s enlisted trial attorney Philip Beck from the Chicago firm of Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP, who last year successfully defended Merck in four of five cases last year in the Vioxx trials (he also represented GW Bush against Gore in the 2000 election fiasoc).  Beck’s known for knowledge of technology and his use of technology and visual aids in the courtroom, which may be another reason Google liked him.   More about Beck here.  

Jonathan Jacobson from Wilson Sonsini’s NY office or David Kramer from Wilson’s home office in Palo Alto appears to be lead counsel.  Only Kramer is a copyright specialist; Beck (who has done patent litigation as well) and Jacobson are there because they are heavyweight trial attorneys with a track record of defending high profile cases. 

Analysis: One thing is for sure about this case.  The lawyers on both sides will benefit, while Google/YouTube and Viacom continue to disagree about a deal.

Terra Naomi before she was discovered (minidocumentary, Episode 2)

May 1, 2007

This video shows how hard it is for musicians, even those with incredible amounts of talent, to be discovered today. Thank heavens for YouTube in discovering the talent in this video.