Media Literacy Project is an Albuquerque, New Mexico based nonprofit. Through education and grassroots campaigns, Media Literacy Project works to help people become “critical media consumers and engaged media justice advocates who deconstruct media, inform media policy, and create media that reflect their lived experience.”
Sometimes government or corporate interests don’t appreciate their criticism. Recently, New Media Rights stepped in and helped ensure they were not unfairly silenced.
In the summer of 2013, Media Literacy Project shared their criticisms of a number of health related advertisement campaigns by city governments in the Midwest publicly on their website. The criticism included a written article analyzing the original images, as well as a counter-advertisement critical of the ad campaigns. Unfortunately, rather than respecting MLP’s right to share their criticisms, a representative of the Chicago Department of Health contacted MLP and requested that they remove their criticisms and related images. The story is an important lesson in excessive enforcement. Because of the three legal reasons given, none were legitimate.
New Media Rights intervened, and helped MLP let the Department of Health know a) they weren’t even the owners of the work they were trying to enforce, b) this was a textbook example of fair use, and c) their claims regarding an obscure section of copyright law known as VARA were baseless.
The result?A win for free speech and the right to criticize the media around us.
Media Literacy Project Testimonial
At the Media Literacy Project we work to educate the public on some of the messages, both intentional and not, that are transmitted to the public via advertising.
We recently wrote a deconstructionand created a counter-advertisement in response to an advertisement by Chicago Department of Health. Some of the images in that advertisement sent the wrong message to our nation’s youth, and we felt the need to comment on it. You can click here to see the ad, our criticism, and our counter-ad.
Soon after our critique went live online, we received a call from a representative of the department that was a bit alarming. The call was to “notify” us that we may be violating copyright laws with our critique and that it would not be protected under fair use because it violated the artist’s VARA rights.
We were confused and disturbed by the phone call. Was that a takedown notice? Do we have to take our criticisms down or respond and challenge the claim? And of course, what is VARA? After a bit of discussion and uncertainty of what to do, we contacted New Media Rights. We’re so glad that we did. They answered all of our questions and came up with a strategy for how to proceed. They contacted the department of health and explained that the department wasn’t the copyright owner, VARA was irrelevant, and our criticismwas protected under the Fair Use Doctrine.
Many times,when a large government agency or corporation claims you’ve violated the law, individuals and small organizations back down from the fear of a lawsuit and remove the material.
We are grateful that New Media Rights exists to help ensure that free speech and the right to criticize are protected.We highly recommend the services offered by New Media Rights. They responded right away, addressed all of our concerns, and treated us with respect. We can’t thank them enough.
This testimonial does not constitute a guarantee,warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.