NBC Affiliate KFYR Threatens SAB Over Linked Article

As most of you readers know, reporter Brian Howell came to work for SayAnythingBlog.com after resigning his employment at NBC affiliate KFYR. The reason why Brian left KFYR is because after Higher Education Chancellor Bill Goetz paid a visit to KFYR’s news management, complaining about Brian’s coverage of higher education stories, KFYR pulled him off the story.

Brian felt, and I agree, that this cave to the demands of Goetz was unethical and so he left and came to work for a place where we don’t worry about whether or not the truth makes people angry.

Since then Brian has produced a couple of stories about KFYR’s handling of the Goetz situation. In his initial video report about the story, Brian used clips from his stories at KFYR as illustration. The clips were labeled as having come from KFYR. We believed this was fair use of KFYR’s material, something other news outlets including KFYR do all the time, but they disagreed and requested that we remove the video content from our report.

Despite our disagreement with their position, we complied. We didn’t want to let a brawl with KFYR obscure the real story which is the problems in North Dakota’s university system. But now KFYR has contacted us again, this time saying that because we linked to one of their stories on their website, we’re again treading on their copyrights.

Brian received a call from KFYR Program Manager Jim Sande who said that the links to KFYR video reports contained in this SAB post (one link pictured below) constitutes a violation of their copyrights. Mr. Sande said that if we didn’t remove the links, KFYR would have to “explore other options.”

Well they’ll have some exploring to do, because we’ve told them to go pound sand.

Linking things on the internet is not copyright infringement. If it was, anybody who had ever linked an article on a blog or on Facebook or on Twitter would be guilty of copyright infringement. Heck, KFYR themselves has “Share Story” links at the bottom of every one of their articles (here’s one example), which is basically inviting readers to link to their content.

Maybe the management at KFYR is so out of touch with the modern media that they really do think that a hyperlink constitutes some infringement of their rights. More likely they’re a news outlet that has been thoroughly embarrassed by the outing of their complicity with the higher ed system in covering up a major scandal and are trying to bully and intimidate those doing the embarrassing.

Well it’s not going to work. The links are staying up.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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