Trivia, But Instructive

Speaking of mechanisms of control: Dogfight over videos of White House pup

At stake are Webcasting rights to video clips of Barney, the first pooch, and his antics around 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The White House has so far denied requests from online publishers seeking copies of the third annual Barney holiday video, insisting on hosting the video exclusively on its own Web site while at the same time freely granting broadcast rights to TV networks.

[…] “The justifications we have been given are that (1) the White House wants to drive ‘eyeballs’ to the White House site and (2) the White House is concerned that the video might appear ‘all over’ if it gave it to and other online news sites,” Feaver wrote last December. “I think you will agree that neither of these attempted justifications is substantial and neither justifies the White House’s discrimination against online news sites.”

[…] One legal twist to the Barney saga is that news sites can probably host the memorable series of videos without the White House’s permission. Federal copyright law does not include videos or any other material created by a government employee “of the United States government as part of that person’s official duties.”

“If this is a work of the federal government, the Copyright Act permits the Washington Post to host it,” said Eugene Volokh, who teaches copyright law at the UCLA School of Law. “It doesn’t require permission from the White House.”