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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
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)
similar content and issues, read:
4-13 Nimmer on Copyright § 13.05 The Defense of Fair Use (Non-subscribers can purchase Nimmer on
Copyright at the LexisNexis Store)
determining whether given conduct constitutes copyright infringement, 1 the
courts have long recognized that certain acts of copying are defensible 2 as
"fair use." 3 It has been said that the affirmative defense 4 of fair
use "permits courts to avoid rigid application of the copyright statute
when, on occasion, it would stifle the very creativity which that law ....
4-19E Nimmer on Copyright 19E.syn Chapter 19E: Freedom of Speech (Non-subscribers can
purchase Nimmer on Copyright at the LexisNexis Store)
there a conflict between copyright law and freedom of speech? What is the
relationship between the U.S. Constitution's Copyright Clause and its First
Amendment? For almost two centuries--from the enactment of the first Copyright
Act in 1790 until 1970--the question remained unasked, both in the courts and
elsewhere. But in 1970, Professor Melville B. ...
2-8 Nimmer on Copyright §
8.syn Chapter 8: The Nature of the Rights Protected by Copyright (Non-subscribers can
purchase Nimmer on Copyright at the LexisNexis Store)
An examination of the rights accorded to an owner of
literary property under the Copyright Act might begin with a delineation of
certain fundamental limitations inherent in the nature of copyright. In the
first place, copyright does not confer an absolute monopoly in the patent
sense. As a corollary to the basic principle that copyright may be claimed in
an original ....
Hall & Assocs. v. Elliot Inst. for Soc. Scis. Research, 2006 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 26234 (W.D. Mo. Mar. 20, 2006)
In a suit for trademark
and copyright infringement by a company whose website advocated a particular
political position, the court enjoined the institute, which advocated an inconsistent
political viewpoint, from appropriating the look, feel, graphics, coding, and
photos from the company's site.
v. American Family Ass'n, 745 F. Supp. 130 (S.D.N.Y. 1990)
Plaintiff multimedia artist,
whose work was funded by National Endowment for Art, sued to enjoin publication
of a pamphlet by defendants. The pamphlet incorporated sexually explicit images
from plaintiff's work.
v. Burtchaell, 803 F.2d 1253 (2d Cir. N.Y. 1986)
published a book of interviews about women's experiences with unwanted
pregnancies. Ten years later, she denied appellee's request to quote from her
book, but he did so regardless. He published the quotes in a book critiquing
published accounts of women's abortion experiences.
Magazine, Inc. v. Moral Majority, Inc., 606 F. Supp. 1526 (C.D. Cal. 1985)
publisher of a pornographic magazine, filed a motion for summary judgment and
damages in an action against defendant religious leader for mailing to
constituents copies of the publisher's parody of himself and for requesting
contributions against a personal attack.
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