HMB City Council video is no longer available on Coastsider

Posted by on Mon, March 6, 2006

I have removed the link to the video from the February 22 meeting of the Half Moon Bay City Council from the site at the request of MCTV.

As careful as I have been about getting permission to use photos, art and stories on Coastsider, I made a mistake last week. I assumed that you didn’t need permission to run a video of a government meeting from a public access station. In retrospect, that was pretty dumb. I digitized a VHS tape I made from their scheduled broadcast of what was arguably the most significant city council meeting in years because I thought it was important for the public to see what had happened.

Of course, MCTV is doing the work and spending the money to diligently tape and broadcast meetings all over the Coastside.  And they own the rights to those tapes.

I have asked MCTV for permission to continue to offer the video to our readers, but they have declined to give it.

If you want to see the meeting, and I think you should, you should ask MCTV to rerun it. As far as I know, that’s the only way you can see it.

Public agencies pay to have meetings taped and broadcast on a channel provided specifically for public access.

Many of these same public agencies just made an appeal to the Board of Supervisors to provide funding to MCTV at a time when their funding appears to be in jeopardy.

I suspect the real reason is that MCTV charges a lot for making copies of their tapes and they don’t want to lose the possible revenue if people can get the recording without paying MCTV a copying charge.

Can they stop someone from loaning their personal copy recorded from the normal playback?  My guess is that they can’t.

This is very frustrating. MCTV is a government/taxpayer funded entity (partly funded by HMB, it seems), who has posession of a film of a highly newsworthy event—and how do I see it? Catch it on the community channel, if you can. No other broadcast allowed. For information on MCTV’s funding, see

Is this still 1970?


Taking my previous thought a half step further, what if I *loan* a personal copy to the public library for checkout?  As long as it’s made clear that it’s my personal copy and I want it back eventually (such that it’s not a transfer of ownership), and as long as I’m not charging for that loan, and the library isn’t charging for lending it, I’d like to see MCTV stop that.  If I bought a rare book which happened to still be under copyright protection, couldn’t I loan it to the library for public lending?  How would a video recording be any different?  Come to think of it, does anything change if the book or the video is donated to the library instead of loaned to them?

Any IP lawyers out there who can comment on this idea?


Please go to EFF.Org, Electronic Frontier Foundation, then check out DMCA, Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Now look up “Fair Use Rights”. Now call Bob More at 321 Studios – oops, sorry, you can’t do that because they were put out of business (Northern District Federal Court for California) by MPAA, Motion Picture Association of America, members on DMCA law suits. Now, please go back to EFF.Org and click on “Join EFF” and pull out your check book.

You might also finding it interesting which US Senator was a sponsor of the DMCA – hint, her first name is Dianne.

The best course is to work it out with MCTV!

Note: I did not down load the copy from this site.

Ken Johnson

Barry - Could you kindly make available your text summary that refers to what happened (and when) on the recording, even though the recording is not currently available?  It makes fascinating reading all by itself.  Transcriptions - whether partial or complete - would be useful and would certainly be legal to post here.  Likewise, fair-use would certainly cover snippets of video as reporting, too; perhaps that would be worthwhile to provide.

- Hal M. Bogner
  Half Moon Bay

Regarding the ‘ownership’ and ‘intellectual property (IP)’ issues:  When the meeting is shown on MCTV, it makes good sense for people to tape it.  It them makes good sense for people to pass around copies, and even to make copies - without attempting to profit financially! - to share with others who are interested.  As no financial harm is being caused, what damages might MCTV assert are occurring?  It’s hard for me to imagine either MCTV or HMBCC hiring attorneys, filing suit, and persuing it all the way to a trial in the face of the such highly useful actions - which are in the public interest - and when no economic interests are at stake.  And it’s even harder for me to imagine the court system siding with those who would suppress public access to the recordings of these meetings, which were held under the Brown Act, and recorded and broadcast by MCTV, which exists to serve the public interest, and which is forcibly funded for that purpose under government contracts.

- Hal M. Bogner
Half Moon Bay

I am wondering if anyone out there has built up a personal collection of many or all of the public meetings that have been taped and shown on MCTV over the years.  Can we request access to the MCTV archive?  Can we demand access under laws such as the Brown Act, the Freedom of Information Act, etc.?

- Hal M. Bogner
Half Moon Bay

This may be a silly suggestion but…

Why don’t folks just attend the meetings in person? They are announced ahead of time aren’t they? What did we do before video and online streaming?

DCMA is incontrovertible proof that we have the best government that money can buy, and MPAA has a lot of money and can buy a lot of government with it.  (Of course, if you look at the fact that most or all county boards of supervisors are bought and paid for by the building trades industry, my comment applies equally well there.  Whether this is now the case in HMB is left as an exercise to the reader.)

Regarding Dianne being the author of DCMA… Democratic electeds once upon a time represented the people and protected them from big business and sometimes from government oppression.  Now they’re supporting DCMA, the USA Patriot Act, and on and on.  Something went wrong somewhere.

I encourage people to attend these meetings. You miss a lot on the tape, and that meeting in particular would have been doozy.

However, many people can’t come to the meetings because of family commitments in the evenings.  There is a public board meeting every night of the week on the Coastside, so it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to go to these meetings. Also, once something significant happens in a public forum, the tapes are the only way to see what really happened.

Everyone who lives in Half Moon Bay, or the Coastside for that matter, should have the opportunity to see what happened that meeting.  It will have repercussions for the next 18 months and beyond.

Well, *way* before video and online streaming we sat around in caves and grunted a lot.

It generally been a pattern of increasing democracy ever since then, in no small part due to technology.

I wouldn’t want to go back, even ten years…