Slate Magazine’s Josh Voorhees seems to think there is something unseemly about Feidin Santana, the bystander who recorded the film on his smartphone showing North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager shooting and killing Walter Scott on April 4, seeking payment from news outlets who use his video.
In an article revealing that Santana’s lawyers are making the case that he is entitled to compensation, Voorhees writes, “While it may seem opportunistic to try to make money off a video of someone’s death…” and later,
“Regardless of how you feel about Santana trying to cash in, if nothing else it provides another incentive—albeit a less noble one—for bystanders to whip out their phones and start filming when they see a police confrontation.”
Let me be uncharacteristically blunt: anyone who sees anything unethical, unseemly, ignoble or opportunistic about Santana seeking fair payment for his property when it is being used by news outlets all over the country as if the video was shot by their own employees is either…
1. Deeply confused about the basic principles of fairness, property, and the right to share in profits being made from something you created.
2. Cognitively disabled by leftist cant that regards commerce itself as unethical.
3. Too juvenile to get past his “Ewwww! Death!” ick response to a real life death-related product having substantial value, which, if it were valid, we would have to condemn a third of the works of Shakespeare, major artworks, the Zapruder film, “Helter Skelter,” “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” all war movies and documentaries and about half a million other works of art and history, or…
4. Working for free because he is richer than Hillary, or
5. Too dumb to be in the journalism profession.
No, I take that back: nobody is that dumb.
An act of civic value isn’t diminished in virtue in any way by the fact that its subject accepts or seeks appropriate rewards for it afterwards. I don’t understand how anyone could think otherwise, but then, Slate’s writers are frequently inscrutable. Once such a video is no longer news, fair use no longer applies. Then all users are appropriating the creator’s property for their own enrichment, and that’s a copyright violation. It’s offensive that he should even have to hire a lawyer to receive fair compensation. Why can’t news outlets just do the right thing without a court order? The government ended up having to pay 16 million dollars for the Zapruder film, and it was worth every penny.
Insisting on being compensated when corporations use your property to enhance their business isn’t “cashing in,” unless Voorhees believes that it’s reasonable and acceptable business practice when the video is of a cat jumping into a fish bowl, but becomes venal when it involves proof that a police officer executed an unarmed man.
Heck, he probably does. This is too often the level of critical thought possessed by those who bring us the news.