Hilliard high school student pulls prank on rival school on YouTube

August 31, 2007

News:  I heard about this high school prank on the local radio and just got more info from colleagues.  High school student Kyle Garchar got the opposing team’s fans to hold up placards that spelled out:  “We Suck” in the stands. 

The kid got suspended for 3 days by Hilliard Davidson High School for what the school viewed as an “unsportsmanlike” prank.  Of course, Garchar shot video of his prank and posted it on YouTube. (More)

Analysis:  I’ll be honest.  I don’t think this prank worked as well as the major media outlets describe.  If you watch the video, the words “We Suck” are barely readable in the stands.  Garcher even has to hold up a piece of paper to show what the configuration says.

Video of the week: The YouTube presidential debate in cartoon

August 31, 2007

“Censorship” on and by YouTube

August 31, 2007

News:  There are several interesting blog posts today about censorship on and by YouTube, as to the controversial videos mocking the Thai King, the German Nazi videos, Al Qaeda recruitment videos, and even videos suspected of copyright infringement.  NYT writer Patrick Lyons has one post, which refers to another thoughtful post by Jason Lee Miller.

Miller writes at one point: “If speech on the Internet is determined by terms of service agreements set forth by private companies not only beholden to advertisers, partners and shareholders, but also to international pressures, then there will be no real freedom of speech on the Internet.”

Analysis:  Under the U.S. Constitution, there’s really no problem (legally speaking) for YouTube to remove content it deems objectionable.  YouTube is not a state actor, so YouTube’s “censorship” of material doesn’t come within the scope of the First Amendment.  Private actors can censor, the government can’t.  YouTube has every right to decide for itself — or let its community decide — to take down objectionable content, including hate speech videos, pornography, and copyright infringing videos.

The interesting wrinkle comes in when YouTube starts censoring based on compliance with foreign laws or requests by foreign governments, especially foreign laws that would violate our First Amendment if enacted here.  At least as a PR matter, it certainly presents YouTube something to think about.      

Thailand lifts ban on YouTube

August 31, 2007

News:  After 5 months, Thailand has finally lifted its ban of YouTube in its country.  The ban came after videos mocking the Thai King surfaced and resurfaced on YouTube — in violation of Thai law.  To reach a solution, YouTube apparently agreed to deploy filtering of the videos in Thailand (although it’s still not clear to me whether that means complete removal of all offending videos from YouTube, something YT had earlier resisted for some reason).  (More)

Analysis:  I’m surprised it took YouTube this long to get the ban lifted.  Maybe there’s not many users of YouTube in Thailand. 

Audio of police interrogation of Sen. Larry Craig on YouTube

August 31, 2007

To be honest, I was surprised by the audio. I found it more helpful to Senator Craig’s side than the police’s, at least after all the negative media portrayal of what happened. Throughout the police interview, Senator Craig maintains his innocence. His story sounded at least halfway plausible. If I were on a jury, I would like to hear some testimony from several witnesses proving the meaning of the putative “bathroom signals” to solicit sex.  That would have been crucial to the prosecution’s case, had this gone to trial.