C-NET Bullies BugPAC For Using Public Borough Council Footage

The BugPAC Campaign to reclaim State College released a video on its Facebook page early May 1 explaining the strengths of its endorsed candidates — Michael Black for State College Mayor and Marina Cotarelo, Evan Myers, and Dan Murphy for Borough Council.

The video also highlights anti-student sentiments from current Borough Council members and current State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham using C-NET footage from Borough Council meetings, which is all available for free on the C-Net website.

Just four days later, C-NET’s legal representation, McQuaide Blasko, sent BugPAC leaders Kevin Horne, Terry Ford, and Logan Echard a letter telling them to remove the video immediately, as C-NET says it violates its Reuse and Retransmission Policy and the Copyright Act of 1976. The letter even specifies the video must be removed by 4 p.m. on Friday, May 5. It’s worth noting C-NET’s Executive Director, Cynthia Hahn, is State College Mayoral candidate Donald Hahn’s wife.

Needless to say, BugPAC did not remove the video.

Rather than removing the video as requested, Horne (who is expected to graduate from Penn State Law next weekend) responded with a letter of his own advising C-NET to take a closer look at the Copyright Act of 1976.

“As is evident from the content of the Video itself, the sole purpose of the Video is political speech, criticism, and commentary,” Horne wrote. “These core free speech rights have been given the utmost protection by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

He goes on to discuss the four factors courts use to determine Fair Use policies — the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work — and reasons why the BugPAC video falls under Fair Use using said considerations.

“BugPAC has reviewed your bald allegation that you “reviewed the Video and determined that [BugPAC’s] use of C-Net material does not qualify as ‘fair use’ under the Copyright Act” and believes, as set forth above, that such a claim lacks merit,” he wrote. “Beyond the legal analysis is the question of morality and proper use of public resources to promote the public welfare and transparency in government. The public has the right not only to access C-Net material, but to make commentary on it. In C-Net’s case, it plays a crucial function in the democratic process by recording and archiving public meetings of great consequence. These are elected officials in a public forum. It is not for C-Net to deny our right to present that information to voters or for the voters to consider it. C-Net’s current policy works against a reasonable definition of the common good.”

We’ll provide additional coverage of this story as it develops.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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