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Court rules against city suing resident for posting City Council clips to YouTube

Remember the man that was sued by the city for posting a video of the City Council to YouTube? It may surprise you to learn what happened.

youtube city council

youtube city council

Man sued for uploading City Council meeting video to YouTube

When YouTube user, Joseph Teixeira posted a clip from his local city council meeting to YouTube, he undoubtedly knew nothing of the repercussions to come. As we originally covered, Teixeira faced legal trouble after uploading videos criticizing the mayor and other government officials in the City of Inglewood in Los Angeles County. The city claimst, by using clips of city council meetings in the videos, he violated copyright laws; as a result, the city “has suffered, and will continue to suffer, irreparable harm and damages.”

The city claims the videos do not fall under the exception for fair use because they allegedly “have no critical bearing.” However, it seems a bit contradictory for the city to claim the videos are not being used for critique, but also claiming they have suffered damages.

Court rules in favor of Teixeira

The United States District Court, Central District of California first determined that the City could not, as a matter of law, assert a copyright interest in the recordings of the City Council’s meetings. And even if it could, Defendant’s conduct fell squarely within the purview of the fair use doctrine and was thus shielded from copyright liability. Indeed, the Court remarked that it “can scarcely conceive of works that are more appropriately protected by the fair use doctrine and § 107 than the Teixeira Videos.”

Then they decided about the issue of the Defendant (Teixeira) seeking to recover attorneys’ fees expended on litigating this action. He was indeed awarded $117,000 to cover his attorney fees. This amount was decided based on five factors. These factors are outlined in the minutes (pdf file) here:

“Defendant argues that the amount of hours expended on this litigation is reasonable on five separate grounds. First, as already discussed, the defense was entirely successful in dismissing the case with prejudice. Second, the issues raised in the Motion to Dismiss were complex, requiring research into the intersection between federal copyright law and state public records law. Third, the City’s own litigation tactics drove up defense costs. Fourth, the case was led efficiently by Mr. Laidman, a mid-level associate at DWT, while Mr. Burke assumed only a supervisory role. And finally, the total amount requested is within the range of fees awarded in comparable copyright actions.”

Teixeira tells us all to know our rights

Joseph Teixeira tells us, ” I guess the general lesson is that if you’re sure that you’ve done your homework about what Rights you have, and someone in power tries to intimidate you into believing that you don’t have those Rights, you need to stand up for those Rights. That’s hard when you think about what you could lose in money, reputation, and security, but if you’re willing to concede your Rights without a fight, all those other things you are afraid of losing, may be taken from you anyway.”

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The lesson here is know the law, especially if you are posting videos on line that are not of your own creation. In fact, even they are your own creation; you should still know which laws can apply to the use and distribution of material.


Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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