Berlin Wall Video Copyright Issues

Categories: history, Personal, Politics, Video
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Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: November 19, 2009

Here is now another great example for the current copyright laws being not only outdated and not fit for today’s world we live in, but also how those archaic laws are actually bad for society as a whole.

Let me start from the beginning…

The Beginning of the Story

new-york-times-logo

I was contacted by Emily B. Hager on Saturday, October 31, 2009 via email and via phone.

Emily B. Hager is a video reporter for the New York Times (yes, THE NY Times). She was working on a last minute video  called “The Man Who Opened the Gate”, which was published on Monday, November 2, 2009, together with the article by Roger Cohen titled “The Hinge of History” with a supporting video.

The article is about Harald Jaeger, the Boarder Guard at the border crossing “Bornholmer Strasse’” who opened the gates on November 9, 1989 to let people pass from East Berlin to West Berlin in violation of a direct order by his superior. Emily came across my video “Moments in History – The Fall of the Berlin Wall

I was contacted regarding this video by many others before that and already had posted an article where I addressed many of the very similar questions that I received regarding my video. Emily found the video of mine at the Internet Archive, where I also posted it, among other sites, like YouTube, Vimeo, my blog and over half a dozen other sites. I told her that I have plenty of video footage that she was looking for, mostly from a German Documentary DVD by Spiegel-TV titled “Spiegel TV – Der Fall der Mauer5” (ISBN #: 3-937901-04-3), which I purchased among other Documentary DVDs about the Berlin Wall and East Germany.

I agreed to send her the footage from the events around checkpoint Bornholmer Strasse in original DVD quality MPEG format and also provided her with the contact information at Spiegel to clarify the legal situation with them regarding her commercial use of the footage for the New York Times website. I stated in my previous post already that I am not sure about the copyright situation regarding the content that I used myself in my own video, not the other general footage about this historic significant event.

I asked her to let me know about Spiegel’s response regarding the legal situation of the content that they used in their documentary  in return for me helping her with her own video. I provided her with the contact information that I found been printed on the back of my original documentary DVD.

Spiegel TV
Brandstwiete 19
D-20457 Hamburg
Telefon: +49 (0)40 – 301 08-0
Fax: +49 (0)40 – 301 08-222

Emily obviously finished her video on time, using some of the footage that I provided to her to be published only 2 days later on the NY Times website. I did not hear from Emily for a while after that, however, two days after the video was published at the Times, on November 4, 2009, I received an Email (in German language) from Stephanie Kröner, from the Legal Department at Spiegel TV GmbH in Hamburg, which was basically a Cease and Desist letter, demanding that I delete my Moments in History video at the Internet Archive. They stated “that they found out to their surprise” about my video, no mention of the New York Times.

Original Email from Spiegel TV

(in German language only, sorry)

From: stephanie_kroener AT spiegel-tv DOT de
ent: Wednesday, November 04, 2009 1:37 AM
To: Carsten Cumbrowski
Cc: Ulrich_Meyer AT Spiegel-tv DOT de
Subject: Rechtsverletzung SPIEGEL TV Materialien

Sehr geehrter Herr Cumbrowski,

mit Überraschung mussten wir feststellen, dass Sie unter der Internetadresse http://www.archive.org/details/MomentsInHistory-TheFallOfTheBerlinWall1989
einen Filmbeitrag zum Abruf bereitstellen, ohne über die hierzu erforderlichen Nutzungsrechte zu verfügen. Die Rechte an einem Großteil der dort verwendeten Filmausschnitte stehen ausschließlich der SPIEGEL TV GmbH zu.
Wir weisen Sie hiermit ausdrücklich auf diese Rechtsverletzung hin und fordern Sie zur sofortigen Löschung der betreffenden Filmmaterialien auf. Die Löschung der kompletten Materialien hat bis spätestens zum

        07. November 2009

zu erfolgen. Sollten die betroffenen Materialien bis zur gesetzten Frist nicht vollständig entfernt worden sein, sehen wir uns gezwungen, die notwendigen zivil- und auch strafrechtlichen Schritte einzuleiten.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Stephanie Kröner
Rechtsabteilung
SPIEGEL TV GmbH
Brandstwiete 19
20457 Hamburg
Germany
Telefon 040.30108-0
Fax 040.30108-428
http://www.spiegelgruppe.de/

SPIEGEL TV GmbH
Sitz und Registergericht Hamburg HRB 46 100
Geschaeftsfuehrer: Fried von Bismarck, Dirk Pommer, Cassian von Salomon

Because of the very unusual timing I thought that Emily was able to contact Spiegel TV, that they own the rights for at least some of the content that I used in Video and that they did not like my video very much. I deleted the video at the Internet Archive the same day and responded to Stephanie and Ulrich Meyer at Spiegel TV, who was CC’ed in the Email that was sent to me, telling them that I was doing what they demanded.

I did not delete the entire entry at the Internet Archive. I only deleted the video there and updated the video description with some biting remarks regarding the fact why the video is now missing. :)

Since it appears that some of the footage that I used is protected by copyright, I admit that the Public Domain Video section is not the right place for my video, because it does not consist of only Public Domain video footage as I thought.

I included in my response to Spiegel TV more than just the acknowledgement of the fulfillment of their demand, because the story has a little bit more to it than just my video at the Web Archive and I was sure that Spiegel TV had no idea about that.

My Email Response to Spiegel TV

Here is my full Email response (also in German Language, but don’t worry, I also provide the content of my email in English language with additional comments further down below).

From: Carsten Cumbrowski
Sent: Wednesday, November 04, 2009 2:47 AM
To: stephanie_kroener AT spiegel-tv DOT de
Cc: Ulrich_Meye AT spiegel-tv DOT de
Subject: Re: Rechtsverletzung SPIEGEL TV Materialien

Sehr geehrter Spiegel TV,

Ich habe das Video vom Internet Archive auf  http://www.archive.org/details/MomentsInHistory-TheFallOfTheBerlinWall1989 entfernt, wie Sie es von mir verlangt haben.

Damit habe ich ihrer Aufforderung Rechnung getragen. Mit dem offiziellen Teil aus dem Weg, moechte ich gerne ein paar persoenliche Kommentare zu Ihrer Email machen.

Kommentare und Fragen

  • Sie mussten feststellen? Bloedsinn. Emily B. Hager von der New York Times (oder ihrer Rechtsabteilung) hat sie kontaktiert, dank mir. Bitteschoen, (nicht mehr) gern geschehen.
  • Da Urheberrecht fuer einen Teil des verwendeten Materials existiert ist das Internet Archive eh der falsche Ort zur Veroeffentlichung.
  • Damit ist das Video aber nicht aus der Welt. Nach Amerikanischem Urheberrecht, was bei mir Anwendung findet, da ich schon lange nicht mehr in Deutschland angemeldet bin, da ich meinen Wohnsitz heute in den USA habe, faellt mein Video sehr wahrscheinlich unter die “Fair use” Klausel, die es erlaubt Teile eines urheberrechtlich geschuetzten Werkes unter bestimmten Bedingungen zu verwenden.
  • Ich finde es enttaeuschend von Ihnen auf diese Art und Weise zu hoeren. Es handelt sich immerhin nicht darum, dass ich Ihre DVD zum Download bereitgestellt habe, sondern nur ca. 5 minuten des Materials (von ungefaehr 2 Stunden) fuer ein persoenliches Video ueber wichtige Ereignisse der deutschen Geschichte benutzt habe. Ich habe auch keinerlei kommerzielle Interessen mit dem Video verfolgt, nicht einmal indirekt.
  • Dieses Material duerfte meiner Meinung nach nicht einmal durch Copyright geschuetzt sein, da es sich hierbei um wichtigen Belege von bedeutende geschichtlichen Ereignissen handelt. Nicht-kommerzielle Nutzung zum Zwecke der Bildung und Aufklaerung sollte nicht durch kommerzielle Interessen unterbunden und zunichte gemacht werden. Da es sich hierbei offentlichtlich um eine Nachlaessigkeit des Gesetzgebers handelt, sollten Sie stattdessen die soziale Verantwortung uebernehmen, falls denn Spiegel TV GmbH ein Interesse daran hat, im Interesse der Gesellschaft als Ganzes zu handeln.
  • Ich wurde von verschiedensten Personen, Publikationen und Gesellschaften kontaktiert wegen meines Videos. Koennten Sie mir wenigstens den Gefallen tun, mir eine Liste zu schicken mit den verwendeten Video Material fuer die DVD “Der Fall der Mauer” (ISBN 3-937901-04-3) und des Bonus Materials und wer dazu Urheberrechte besitzt oder nicht? Ich weiss zum Beispiel das einiges des Materials um 1961 von Universal Studio’s Newsreels stammen, die sich seit laengerem in der Public Domain befinden. Ich plane naemlich noch weitere Videos ueber dieses Thema zu erstellen und es ist unheimlich schwer zu ermitteln wer was fuer Rechte oder nicht besitzt.
  • Ausserdem, was waere notwendig, um das verwendete Video Material fuer die nicht-kommerzielle Nutzung durch Andere zu “clearen”? Zum Beispiel einer Regierung, die das Video fuer die Einweihung einer Mauergedenkstaette verwenden moechte, oder einer oeffentlichen non-profit Kulturverantstaltung zum anlaesslichen Jubilaeum des Mauerfalls in Berlin bei der Deutschen Botschaft in einem anderen Land? Das sind nur zwei Beispiele von vielen, die hier nur zur besseren Erklaerung meiner Frage dienen sollen.

Ich hoffe das Sie sich meine Kommentare einmal durch den Kopf gehen lassen und das Sie mir trotz alledem auf meine Fragen antworten werden.

Vielen Dank. Liebe Gruesse aus Kalifornien.

Carsten Cumbrowski

Geboren April 1974 in Ost Berlin

e: MY EMAIL ADDRESS

I was making them aware of the fact that I believe that they only became aware of my video at the Internet Archive because of the inquiry by the New York Times reporter that I was sending to them. I also expressed my disappointment to hear from them like this. If they had send me a friendly letter without legal threats telling me that they own rights to some of the content in my video with the request to remove it from the Internet Archive, which makes it appear to be public domain, that would have done the trick as well.

I also stated that this does not make my video disappear from the face of this world, because of my publication of it elsewhere. However, I believe that my video publication at those other locations should fall under the fair-use clause (or exception) of the U.S. copyright law.

I made them aware that the laws of the United States and not Germany apply to me even though I am a German citizen, because I am living permanently in the United States now and not in Germany anymore. The fair-use clause does basically permit the use of small amounts of copyrighted material under specific circumstances, which I believe to apply to my situation.

I went ahead that I think that the material should not even be protectable under copyright law, because of their historic significance for society, but that was more as FYI because Spiegel TV is obviously not the right place to do anything about this general problem. But they could for this particular content do something about it, for example release it into the public domain or at least stop sending C&D letters to people who use their footage non-commercially for educational purposes. That is, if Spiegel TV would be interested in what is good for society versus what only being good for them and bad for society in general.

Then I made a request. I asked them to send me a list with the legal situation of the content used in their DVD production and where they or somebody else owns any rights for. I also asked them what the requirements are to use their stuff, using real examples from requests that I received regarding my own short video. It is now over 2 weeks since I send them this request and they still owe me a response to it.

Hearing Back from the NY Times

Meanwhile, I was contacted again by Emily from the New York Times on November 12, 2009. There I found out that she had only brief contact with Spiegel TV, but somebody else than Stephanie Kröner or Ulrich Meyer and that this person promised to get back to her regarding the use of material in the New York Times video, but until then also didn’t do.  Well, the New York Times won’t have a problem if and when Spiegel TV gets back to them. They are a commercial publication and deal with those things on a daily basis. However, what I learned from this fact is that there must be some internal Spiegel TV communication going on across multiple departments, acting independent from each other. So the legal department from Spiegel TV may never heard of the New York Times reporter, but got notified about my video somehow else, but triggered by the inquiry that was made my Emily.

Conclusion anarchist_throws_flowers

As you can see, it is a mess. And I still don’t know what is expected of me or anybody else to do in order to use the historic video footage about the Berlin Wall to educate people and raise awareness of what happened and what did not in non commercial projects. The only SAFE thing to do is not do anything at all. That is probably expected and hoped, but we as society would take more than one step backwards in development and at the same time increase the risk of the development of totalitarian states and governments taking control to enslave its people. It happened before, but I will not sit on my hands doing nothing in order to prevent it from happening once more and so should you.

I know that this story did not come to an end yet so there will be another post of mine, if there are new and noteworthy developments in this matter.

Cheers!

Carsten aka Roy/SAC

p.s. all this attention to my Berlin Wall video has to do with the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which just passed 2 weeks ago on Monday, November 9. 2009.

1 Comment
  1. This information is invaluable. Where can I find outt more?

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