The Abortion Debate and Copyrights: Family Planning Clinic’s Infringement Complaint Attacks Anti-Abortionist’s Use of Copyrighted Material Spliced with Graphic Images - FREE DOWNLOAD

On May 12th, Northland Family Planning Clinic, Inc. filed a copyright action against the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR). Northland provides reproductive healthcare to women, including abortions. The CBR, a California non-profit, opposes abortions. Northland alleges that the CBR's anti-abortion video infringes upon Northland's reproductive services/abortion video.

Northland authored and registered the copyright for a motion picture entitled, "Every Day, Good Women Choose Abortion." The video was created for use on Northland's website. Northland used the video to provide information about its mission and philosophy and to aid in abortion counseling.

CBR allegedly created a YouTube video containing footage from the Northland video with graphic images of dismembered fetuses added intermittently. According to the complaint:

The CBR YouTube Video was not a comment upon or critique of the Good Woman Video. The CBR YouTube Video received so many complaints that YouTube removed it after less than two hours. An embedded link to the video now reads, "This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy on shocking and disgusting content."

After its removal from YouTube, the CBR video allegedly resurfaced under the title, "The Most Shocking (graphic imagery), Four-Minute Abortion Debate You Will Ever See." Since January 7, 2011, the video has been linked to, re-posted, and/or embedded in a number of other blogs and websites. Northland asserts that the video is chiefly composed of clips taken without permission from Northland's copyrighted "Good Women Video." In the clips of copyrighted material, Northland's logo is visible, along with the copyright legend that reads "CD 2009, Northland Family Planning."

In a March 24, 2011 letter, CBR's counsel admitted that CBR:

is using Plaintiff's copyrighted work, but asserted that "use of the subject video was not an infringement of copyright." Counsel for CBR pointed to "Section 107 of the copyright law" and the concept that "[c]ommenting upon, or critiquing of, copyrighted material is a well established 'fair use."

Northland asserts that CBR's counsel did not explain how intercutting graphic images of dismembered fetuses with the copyrighted work constituted a "critiqu[e]" of the copyrighted material. Northland goes on to allege that its:

reputation has been harmed by the creation and distribution of the Infringing Videos. The Infringing Videos are misleading and create the impression that the images represent abortions performed at Northland's clinics.

The safety and security of Northland's clinics have been compromised by the Infringing Videos. Northland's employees fear that the inflammatory and misleading nature of the Infringing Videos will incite violent acts and hate crimes against Northland's clinics, employees, and/or patients.

View or download the complaint from Northland Family Planning Clinic, Inc. v. The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, et al., 11-cv-00731 (C.D. Ca. May 12, 2011)

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