Michael Savage Has to Apologize to Brave New Films

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This story first appeared at Alternet.

Shock jock Michael Savage, who is not prone to public shows of remorse, has been forced to apologize to progressive video production company Brave New Films after a take-down notice his syndicator sent to YouTube in 2008 resulted in the removal of all BNF’s films from the site.

The company’s YouTube complaint specifically targeted a Brave New Films video called “Michael Savage Hates Muslims.” In the video a nice photo of Savage posing by the Golden Gate Bridge is overlaid with soundbites of the shock jock railing against Islam, Muslims and the Koran. “I can see what it says in their book of hate … make no mistake about it, the Koran is not a document of freedom. The Koran is a document of slavery and chattel!” screams Savage. Kind of hard to misrepresent his meaning.

On his site, Savage hosts a link to a legal defense fund, meant in part to combat alleged violations of his free speech. Yet Savage’s Oregon-based syndicator, The Original Talk Radio Network, Inc. (OTRN), sent a notice to YouTube claiming copyright infringement, even though as most people who know things about the law will tell you, brief soundbites compiled into a document of critique fall squarely within fair use laws.

BNF’s case was taken on by Bingham McCutchen LLP and Stanford Center for Internet and Society’s “Fair Use Project,”, a group specializing in fair use law. According to the BNF press release, they sued Savage and the radio company “for damages caused by the removal of BNF’s content and to vindicate BNF’s free speech rights.”

The settlement reached included the following written apology by Michael Savage and the company:

OTRN acknowledges that it made a mistake by asking YouTube to remove Brave New Films’ video “Michael Savage Hates Muslims” from the YouTube site. Upon further examination, it is clear that video should not have been included in OTRN’s September 29, 2009 takedown notice. OTRN apologizes for this error.

“We were not going to allow extreme members of the right to intimidate progressive organizations into inaction.” says BNF producer and liberal activist Robert Greenwald. “Mr. Savage systematically targeted the Council on American Islamic Relations for simply printing his hateful words onto one of their fundraising materials. These despicable acts, as well as Mr. Savage’s hateful rants against Muslims on his radio show, spurred us into action.”

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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