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YouTube announces it will financially support NARAL’s legal fight

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SAN BRUNO, California, November 19, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - YouTube announced today that it will financially support the state chapter of an abortion advocacy group embroiled in a copyright dispute.

A spokesman said the online video hosting site will pay the legal fees of four video creators, including NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, who are accused of uploading footage that belongs to other media outlets. 

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio uploaded video footage of an Ohio legislative hearing that featured comments it deemed "sexist." The Ohio Channel says it owns that footage. But NARAL says its excerpts constitutes "fair use" under the law. YouTube will pick up the tab for NARAL's legal defense, as well as that of three other YouTube creators in separate lawsuits.

"We want, when we can, to have our users' backs," Fred von Lohmann, YouTube's legal director for copyright, told the New York Times today. "We believe even the small number of videos we are able to protect will make a positive impact on the entire YouTube ecosystem."

The decision outraged Mike Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life. "By agreeing to financially support the abortion industry, YouTube is alienating millions of its users, especially in Ohio," Gonidakis told LifeSiteNews. "Ohio Right to Life believes that pro-life supporters should make their opposition to this preposterous decision known loud and clear by boycotting the use of YouTube."

He dismissed the announcement as a "publicity stunt" that betrays the website's political bias. "Will YouTube afford Ohio Right to Life the same opportunities and privileges going forward?" he asked.

YouTube offered no such solace to the pro-life group Live Action when its undercover videos came under an assault that lasted several years.

In June 2009, YouTube removed a video of a Planned Parenthood employee saying that images of abortion victims are "not real."

The following month, YouTube removed another Live Action video showing a Planned Parenthood counselor telling an actress posing as a 14-year-old girl that her impregnation by her 31-year-old "boyfriend" would stay "within these walls." The video spurred the Alabama Attorney General's Office to investigate longstanding allegations that Planned Parenthood covers up statutory rape and other forms of sexual abuse.

"It is an outrage for YouTube to arbitrarily censor a video that has sparked a state investigation and national concern," Live Action founder Lila Rose said at the time.

Two years later, another wave of anonymous complaints caused YouTube to censor a Live Action video that showed Planned Parenthood employees willing to conceal cases of sexual slavery. On May 5, 2011, YouTube pulled the video, saying it violated the company's "privacy guidelines."

Following that victory, "Planned Parenthood sought to suppress still other videos," said Thomas J. Brejcha, president of the Thomas More Society. Live Action sought the legal help of attorneys Brejcha and Peter Breen, whose legal arguments eventually got the videos restored.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio welcomed the ubiquitous video platform's generous donation. "Having YouTube’s support allowed us to not be afraid and to stand our ground on this situation," said Kellie Copeland, the chapter's executive director.

The video in question, which was posted on YouTube on May 13, shows sixth grade girls testifying before the Ohio House Finance Committee on April 17. A handful of legislators jokingly asked if the girls would campaign for them - or date their sons one day.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Deputy Director Jaime Miracle said these "ridiculous sexist actions" proved to her "that we live in a sexist world where [young girls'] value is judged, not on how smart or brave they are, but on who is willing to date and/or marry them."

The video has garnered 1,524 views as of this writing. Its only comment says, "Yawn. The only reason anybody is watching this boring old video about an old man trying to relate with kids is because of the [copyright] defense."

Copeland, who refers to herself as "pro-choice and Christian," said the group needed YouTube's financial backing, because "we aren’t a large organization...we just have six people here."

The Buckeye State affiliate reported revenues of more than $682,000 from 2009 to 2013, but it operated at a $42,000 deficit in 2013. NARAL's flagging fortunes may be due to Ohio's Republican-controlled state legislature, which has partnered with Gov. John Kasich to enact numerous pieces of pro-life legislation, including a requirement that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital that has shut down abortion facilities around the state.

Contact:

YouTube, LLC
901 Cherry Ave.
San Bruno, CA 94066
Fax: (650) 253-0001

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