Thursday, Aug 28 2003

Priceless Video

It was the second-most-famous videotape of the 1990s: helicopter footage shot of truck driver Reginald Denny being dragged from his truck and beaten at the corner of Florence and Normandie on April 29, 1992. The images became the defining symbol of the deadly violence that spread across the city after a jury acquitted the officers who (on an earlier videotape) beat motorist Rodney King. But lawyers know the Denny tape as the source of a volume of case law — a volume that grew Thursday with a federal appeals court ruling restricting the reach of U.S. copyright law.

Bob Tur, perhaps best known until the Denny beating for reporting from the sky about traffic jams, sold his tape to NBC, which showed it on the Today Show. NBC then shared the video with a company it co-owned with Reuters and the BBC, and Tur’s Los Angeles News Service sued the overseas companies for copyright infringement when they aired the shots without paying him.

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Tur’s claim, ruling that copyright laws extend only to the boundaries of U.S. territory. The decision could affect interpretations of copyright all over the country — and could be headed toward Supreme Court review.

A Race for Mayor Hahn

The August resignation of LAX Executive Director Lydia Kennard and Housing Authority Commission chair Ozie Gonzaque have led some to question whether blacks are welcome at Mayor Jim Hahn’s City Hall, according to a story by Wave reporter Betty Pleasant.

In last week’s issue, Pleasant cited the removal of Airport Commission Vice President Warren Valdry, the transfer of Housing Authority Commissioner Daryl Walker, the ouster of Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member Paul Hudson, and the decision by Ken Lombard to step down as president of the Water and Power Commission. Many African-Americans in the city remain stung by the denial of a second term as police chief to Bernard Parks, and some are weighing whether to break with Hahn and support a possible Parks challenge to the mayor next year.

Pleasant quoted Gonzaque as saying Hahn’s top lieutenants “don’t like black people in high places.” But she also quoted Deputy Mayor Eric Brown — who is black — who in turn noted the recent hiring of homeless-services director Armen Ross, economic-development director R.D. Lottie and Community Development Department director Clifford Graves, among others.

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