The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

13 October 2008

Left Wrongly Uses Savage Censorship Flap To Smear Conservatives


Savage Syndicator Also Targets Radio Equalizer Clip

Wrongly portrayed as
an campaign by conservatives to censor liberals, a rapidly- escalating conflict between a far-left film producer and syndicated talk host Michael Savage has led to a new lawsuit and substantial mainstream media coverage.

But the effort by Robert Greenwald's liberal Brave New Films to make ideological hay out of a recent YouTube censorship binge by Savage's syndicator isn't going to fly for one good reason: your Radio Equalizer was also a target.

The legal merits of Greenwald's case, of course, may be quite different. Why are the people behind Savage's show so touchy about the use of his audio in clips, even when it's well within Fair Use guidelines?

That we were also targeted is obviously news to both the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal, who have already reported on the anti- Savage suit, clearly unaware that the same action was taken against yours truly on the very same day.

On October 2, your Radio Equalizer received this ominous letter from YouTube, referring to a Savage clip we'd uploaded in February 2007:

Dear Member:

This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Original Talk Radio Network, Inc. claiming that this material is infringing:

Michael Savage February 1 Show:

Please Note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to prevent this from happening, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others. For more information about YouTube's copyright policy, please read the Copyright Tips guide.

If you elect to send us a counter notice, please go to our Help Center to access the instructions.

Please note that under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability.

YouTube, Inc.

The Original Talk Radio Network refers to Savage's Oregon-based syndication firm. The clip in question was just a few seconds in length, featuring Savage dropping the F-bomb during an apparent equipment malfunction or board operator error.

It was posted because your Radio Equalizer felt it was funny, there was no malicious intent on our part. It was subsequently viewed thousands of times. For that, we are now facing removal from YouTube?

From the Los Angeles Times on the suit itself:

Brave New Films sues Michael Savage over YouTube takedown

Brave New Films, the Web video production company run by liberal filmmaker Robert Greenwald ("Outfoxed," Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price"), is suing conservative talk-show host Michael Savage in a copyright dispute that hinges on the takedown of a one-minute-long YouTube video.

The video called "Michael Savage Hates Muslims" (and still available here) features a photo of Savage, along with a short audio excerpt from the "Savage Nation" program, in which Savage makes clear his disdain for Muslims and Islam. "You can take your religion and shove it up your behind," he yells at one point. "I'm sick of you."

Brave New Films has an adversarial history with Savage. The company maintains a site called, which features the "Michael Savage Hates Muslims" video along with links to other inflammatory remarks by the host.

The complaint holds that Talk Radio Network Inc., the Oregon company that syndicates Savage's show, sent a takedown request to YouTube for the video on Oct. 2 -- the night of the vice presidential debate, and a moment of intense interest in online political news. As a result of the network's request, YouTube not only removed the offending video but disabled Brave New Films' YouTube channel completely. Because Brave New Films uses the YouTube player to embed its videos on its own public website, that site suffered as well.

According to YouTube, copyright law requires the company to terminate accounts that repeatedly infringe, and Brave New Films had problems with Viacom last year when they used material from the "Colbert Report." Suspensions can be lifted if one or more of the claims are retracted.

And from the Wall Street Journal:

At the center of the suit is a video called “Michael Savage Hates Muslims” (viewable at, in which Savage expresses his disdain for Muslims and Islam.

In January, Brave New Films uploaded the video, which reportedly takes one-minute of audio excerpts from Savage’s show, to its YouTube channel. Recently, Talk Radio Network allegedly sent a takedown notice to YouTube demanding the removal of the video. TRN’s notice resulted in YouTube removing the video and also temporarily disabling Brave New Films’ entire YouTube channel.

According to YouTube, copyright law requires the company to terminate accounts that repeatedly infringe, and Brave New Films had problems with Viacom last year when they used material from the “Colbert Report.” (The Viacom complaint was eventually dropped.) Suspensions can be lifted if one or more of the claims are retracted.

Especially important is the idea that Savage somehow represents conservatives when he and his syndication firm take draconian measures against "foes". The right mostly ignores these increasingly- bizarre crusades, but that allows the mainstream media to portray this as partisan censorship with no opposing argument from our side.

It's time to re-think that stance.

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Technorati tags:


  • WAAH! They're going after Michael Savage! WAAH! He has a right to call for a Second Holocaust without being censored by liberals! Michael Savage has all right to kill Brave New Films! Savage for President! EIN RAND! EINE SPRACHE! EINE KULTUR!

    By Anonymous Russell, at 13 October, 2008 22:08  

  • Thanks for this post Brian.

    I am trying to follow how this works, but I think the main point is that we are seeing Google/You Tube folding in the face of money and power again and again. (Can you say "Chinese Government?")

    Fair Use just seems to be too much for You Tube to sort out. They err on the side legal fees.

    But this results, as the articles you cite point out, in the digital crushing of smaller voices.

    I am curious Brian, did you send a "Counter Notice," to You Tube to protest?

    It seems as if nobody ever uses this form.

    You can check out the adventures of Wendy Seltzer, a legal prof who did an experiment. In the context of teaching about copyright, she posted a clip of an NFL game to You Tube. The clip she posted was just the little audio part where the announcer gives the standard NFL copyright warning.

    Here is the ensuing engagement with You Tube and the NFL:

    By Blogger Art, at 14 October, 2008 11:37  

  • I appreciate the work you do for this site. However your historic treatment of Michael Savage speaks much louder than saying you posted something obviously harmful to him because you thought it was 'funny.' With minor exceptions, you have either ignored his existence or written something extremely damaging about him at crucial times. eg 'hanging by a thread,' wor quiet 'test' and others. With all the attention Savage has received, you posted this controversy because it was 'funny?' Of course most of the so-called right wing media treats him the same way. You're not on the same side as Savage--you're blatently against him. Which is fine, but very obvious.

    By Blogger susan mullen, at 16 October, 2008 20:48  

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