First you see it — then you don’t. When Senator James Inhofe’s office discovered video of EPA administrator Al Armendariz on YouTube telling an audience that he liked the Roman approach to regulatory enforcement that entailed crucifying the first four or five people as a lesson to all the others, they clipped out the segment and put it up on YouTube themselves. Now the “citizen media activist” who first posted the video has claimed that Inhofe’s office violated his copyright and demanded that YouTube pull the video … which they did:
Sen. Jim Inhofe’s staff wants to know more about why YouTube took down a video that showed an EPA regional administrator comparing the agency’s enforcement philosophy to Roman crucifixions.
The takedown, which POLITICO noticed early Friday, apparently took place at the behest of a “citizen media” activist who had originally posted the video on YouTube, Inhofe spokesman Matt Dempsey said by email.
Dempsey said the video of EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz originally came from a YouTube channel called “Citizen Media for We The People,” run by someone named David McFatridge.
That name also appears on the YouTube error screen that replaced Inhofe’s Armendariz video link. It reads: “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by David McFatridge. Sorry about that.”
Dempsey wrote that “we will be looking into an official response for YouTube to the claim brought forward by David McFatridge of ‘Citizen Media for We The People,’ in the morning.”
YouTube routinely pulls videos any time there is a copyright complaint [see update II below for clarification as to why], but even a cursory examination in this case would show it to be spurious. The clip used by Inhofe’s office was a brief part of a longer clip, involved a government official discussing public policy, and the clip was used for editorial purposes, not just for republication. It’s called “fair use,” and this is precisely the circumstances intended for the fair-use exception to copyrights.
Furthermore, it seems doubly ironic that a so-called “citizen media activist” would suddenly fight against openness and transparency. Isn’t that the whole point of citizen-media activism? Their YouTube page brags that they bring viewers “videos that you will not see in the Corporate Media.” Well, congratulations — you found one that scooped the “Corporate Media”! And …. now McFatridge wants it hidden? Hmmmm. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that McFatridge didn’t realize just how people would react to a high-ranking EPA official bragging about crucifying taxpayers, and got embarrassed when it created a firestorm.
The firestorm continues, however, with or without McFatridge’s clip. Rep. Ted Poe of Texas, which is locked in a court battle or two with the EPA, wants Armendariz fired and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson along with him:
“The comments made by Administrator Armendariz back in 2010 confirm what we’ve known all along: the EPA’s crusade to destroy the oil and gas industry is a politically premeditated effort, not one meant to protect the environment. Administrator Armendariz’s words reflect his disdain for the oil and gas industry and make clear that his decisions are made without an ounce of impartiality. He should be fired.
“The EPA is an agency charged with protecting the environment, instead it has focused its efforts on targeting, intimidating, and vilifying the energy industry in any way it can. The aggressive assault the EPA has unleashed on the oil and gas industry has not only increased the cost of energy, it has destroyed jobs.
“The oil and gas industry accounts for 9.2 million jobs in the United States. ‘Making examples’ of this field has put American jobs in jeopardy. Ironically, Mr. Armendariz’s oversees the EPA’s efforts in Texas, which has been hit especially hard. Oil and gas and related industries make up nearly a quarter of the Texas economy. An assault on oil and gas is an assault on Texas.”
Meanwhile, the Daily Caller reports that Armendariz had managed to get over a half-million dollars in research grants prior to making these comments:
President Barack Obama appointed Alfredo “Al” Armendariz as the administrator for EPA’s South Central Region (Region 6) in Nov. 2009. Since his appointment he has been a thorn in the side of energy producers. ….
Armendariz’s “research” resume highlights the hundreds of thousands of dollars he received as a professor from government and private institutions for research on pollution and related topics.
Specifically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paid him $299,032 for a three-year study on the “Control of Workplace Diesel Exhaust Particulate” that ran from 2005 to 2008.
The Environmental Protection Agency also funded a $45,000 grant that Armendariz received from the Office of Environmental Services of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in 2004. That research covered the “Development of a Field Test for Detecting Hydrocarbons in Soils.”
Between 2008 and 2010 Armendariz and an SMU colleague shared a $196,490 grant from the National Science Foundation for their research on “Acquisition of a Volumetric, 3-Component Particle Displacement and Velocity Measurement System for Mechanical and Environmental Engineering Measurements.”
Armendariz also received grant dollars from the Environmental Defense Fund and the Environmental Department of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council of New Mexico.
Looks like an area that could use a little more transparency, no? Let’s hope YouTube grows a pair and tells McFatridge to learn about fair use before making copyright claims. Meanwhile, Inhofe isn’t sitting still. He wants to find companies that Armendariz “crucified” for his investigation into the EPA:
Sen. James Inhofe says he wants to document how many companies have been “run out of business” by the types of heavy-handed EPA intimidation tactics symbolized by a regional director’s stated goal to “crucify them.”
In my talk with Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) today regarding the “crucify them” philosophy espoused on-camera by Environment Protection Agency Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz, the senator said that this type of EPA mentality – and action – has been intimidating and threatening businesses for years. …
Sen. Inhofe says he wants to document and quantify examples of businesses the have been run out of business by unjust EPA persecution, in order to ensure that all businesses are treated more fairly in the future:
“We can prevent this from happening again. We can also, perhaps, find out how many other companies went through the same thing and just threw in the towel.[“]
I’m betting Inhofe won’t have much trouble, either. If you happen to know of any examples, contact Inhofe’s office through his website.
Update II: Lee Doren tweets with this clarification: “YouTube is required to pull the video to be covered by the DMCA “safe harbor” once an official DMCA complaint is filed.”