Theme parks and the legality of publishing visitors' video: Part two
I wanted to draw your attention to a story yesterday in the Orlando Sentinel
about an attempt by SeaWorld and the family of Dawn Brancheau to prevent video of the orca attack which claimed her life last month
from being shown to the public.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department has surveillance video of the incident, and might have video from tourists on the scene, too. Normally, under Florida law, material that sheriff's deputies collect in the course of an investigation becomes public record after the investigation is complete. And the sheriff's office already has gotten multiple requests for the video.
But, remember, SeaWorld has a legal ace up its sleeve here. Remember our discussion from earlier this year about the legality of posting theme park photos and videos online? Despite the fact that theme parks technically prohibit publication of images photographed or recorded within their parks, I wrote then that parks "absolutely love viral promotion from their guests." The only time that parks would take legal action to enforce their copyright and prevent an in-park photo or video from being publishing would be if it "portrays the park in a negative light."
You better believe that SeaWorld's going to exercise that here. The sheriff's office might be legally obligated to release the video after it complete its investigation. But SeaWorld's copyright claim on that video should be enough to prevent anyone who obtains that video from republishing it - online or elsewhere.
There is a "fair use" exemption to copyright law that might allow news organizations or even individual bloggers to publish a screen grab, or maybe even a very short excerpt from the video. I wouldn't do that, though, and I hope that no other news organization covering the theme park industry would, either. Let's allow Dawn's memory, family and fellow trainers some dignity.
On behalf of the people who watch things like that but regret seeing them afterwards, I hope it doesn't get out. Throughout the Olympics, all I could picture was the Georgian hitting that post, wishing I never watched it. This would be the same type of thing.
There is no value to anyone in the releasing of the video. The need to feed peoples vicarious desire to watch the destruction of people and places should not be honored. Respect the wishes of the family and even if the video is published, do not view it.
I think there's something wrong with society when people actually want to see video of something tragic like the Sea World incident. Too many people are desensitized to graphic events. Seeing a video of something happening is different than experiencing something happening in front of you. Usually, a person chooses to view a video. There's no pause or off button for an incedent occuring in real life.
Yeah, maybe I am reading this wrong, but I do not want to see this video and it should be destroyed. How dare somebody wants to see a video of the death of a person. What is wrong with everybody?
It's a lose-lose situation.
To clarify, and echoing Joshua's point: I do believe that all sheriff's investigation material (even this video) should be available for public inspection. But that doesn't mean that all that material needs to be republished on the Internet - and responsible publishers should play no part in doing that, either.
Mr. Niles Writes: You better believe that SeaWorld's going to exercise that (copyright) here. The sheriff's office might be legally obligated to release the video after it complete its investigation. But SeaWorld's copyright claim on that video should be enough to prevent anyone who obtains that video from republishing it - online or elsewhere.
Nothing removes copyright protection, certainly not handing over requested material to the police. Going through the expense of waiting for a court order would simply waste the sheriff's time and SeaWorld's money and resulted in even more bad publicity for SeaWorld.
Mr Niles writes: "SeaWorld has no choice but to hand over its video ..."
Mr. Niles- thank you for a great article. As a journalist you and your peers might be expected to clamor over the opportunity to show the footage. I applaud your recommendation to honor human life and public emotions by not displaying the video publicly.
What about individuals owning the intellectual rights to photographs of themselves taken at the Parks ?
I am extremely interested to see this video, and assume it would be educational to the world at large. I find it disturbing that so many of you are offended by the idea of watching this, and having it easily available on the internet for everyone. Narrated video capture is a much better form of documentation than a "visual memory-safe" printed news article. Not wanting to see this sounds too much like the hypocrites who eat meat, but refuse to watch videos from the slaughterhouse.
Jessy, I think you're touching upon the wrong ideas with slaughterhouses and meat. This is a different issue between a cow being processed for food and a person being attacked and killed in a show. The difference between hunting for your own food vs. a slaughterhouse is a completely different issue.
"That's like wanting to see video of someone dying at a Cirque du Soleil show from a stunt gone wrong. Or seeing a fatal car accident that you had nothing to do with on a different freeway."
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