YouTube should have been allowed to show NJ toll plaza death video

YouTube should have been allowed to show NJ toll plaza death video

Summary: The New Jersey Turnpike Authority's video cameras captured a fatal crash earlier this month in which a 52 year-old New Jersey resident crashed into the roadway's Great Egg Harbor Toll Plaza.Not long therafter, video of the crash wound up on YouTube as well as on two other video sharing sites.


The New Jersey Turnpike Authority's video cameras captured a fatal crash earlier this month in which a 52 year-old New Jersey resident crashed into the roadway's Great Egg Harbor Toll Plaza.

Not long therafter, video of the crash wound up on YouTube as well as on two other video sharing sites.

Now, incredibly the NJTA is suing YouTube as well as video sharing site for copyright infringement for showing the video. More specifically, for direct copyright infringement by public performance, public display and reproduction, as well as inducement, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement.

As of May 22, the video had been viewed nearly 25,000 times on YouTube alone, and nearly 17,000 times on A third site,, showed the video nearly 215,000 times before it voluntarily removed the clip.

Just checked YT and break, and it appears the offending video has been removed as well.

OK, what shakes here?

First, I don't understand how a video assembled from footage taken by a camera from a public agency, on a toll plaza that collects public funds, along a highway built and maintained with public funds, should be subjected to copyright laws. Even though the footage came from public video cameras, this sets a dangerous precadent against the public using digital media to distribute eyewitness news.

Second, I have to admit I don't understand what sicko would want to watch what amounts to a snuff film. I mean, if you are that thirsty for video bloodshed, just watch news coverage of today's latest car bombing in Iraq.

[poll id=71]

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • The real question

    Who took the public video and digitized it and put it up on the video file sites? This was probably a public worker they should be the one that is fined for taking the public work and releasing it.

    I personally don't want to see the video but if it is with public cameras that we pay for then I think we should be entitled to see it. If it is this offensive then why was it digitized to begin with? I just find it funny they don't want to blame their own people but blame someone else instead and this is the way our entire society is going; its not my fault its yours attitude.
  • Public funds = Public right?

    The use of public funds by government is not synonymous with unfettered public access to the resulting project. Public funds are used to construct government buildings but you can't just walk into any place within that building under the theory that you are a taxpayer whose tax dollars helped construct the building. Try walking in to just look around the FBI building because you're a taxpayer whose tax dollars somehow help to maintain that building. That should be interesting. While the NJTA would probably not have an issue with sharing other video (just speculation here), it seems they have acted on behalf of the poor driver's family. This is just decency and respect. Just because we have access to share a video, legally or otherwise, doesn't mean that we always should.
    • Good Popints

      Personally, I would be more interested in walking into the Oval Office, since I help to pay for it's day to day maintenace with my tax dollars. I also pay that guy's salary, and have a thing or two I want to get off my chest re: his conduct since about 99/00.

      The confusion comes in with regard to the basis of the suit, I guess. Copyright infringement isn't what bothers any of us about this particular misuse of video, clearly. I don't think that the NJTA had standing to sue for this poor victim or his family on privacy grounds. They are clearly better equipped to file a suit of some sort, as they have lawyers on staff.

      Seems like they did a nice thing for a family that is already suffering. Technically, it would be up to the family to file this suit, in addition to dealing with the funeral and loss. There is also the aspect mentioned above, of the liability related to who did digitize this and post to YT. Smart on the NJTAs' part to get out in front of this.
  • public record?

    I'm not a lawyer or even a resident of NJ, but might the video be considered a public record? And if so, be subject to a freedom of information (FOIA) request?
    J. D. S.
  • Decency

    I agree with shoktai but will also present a different angle.

    Answers to difficult questions like this can sometimes become more obvious when taking the situation to an extreme. Let?s say that instead of capturing an accident, that the camera instead captured a perpetrator who stripped and raped an innocent woman. Replay the ?justifications? that have been made and see if they still apply. Many no longer seem to fit. I think that most would agree that it would be inappropriate to make the video public. Why? In this case, because of public decency laws, and also out of respect of the victim. I, also, feel that most instances of video of people being unnaturally killed do not pass decency requirements.

    So, if something public is indecent, who makes the decisions about just how free the public is to view it? That is the real question in this instance.

    Also, Russell, I could not find a suitable response that would allow me to vote in your poll. You need to word the poll options better, and not necessarily clutter the selection with a reason or explanation; or provide enough explanations to sufficient cover the subject.
  • sexual hunger -> bloodthirst

    The same part of the brain responsible for sexual urges is found to be responsible for attraction to violence. People are sex-starved, so they get violent. Probably for unnatural situations in nature where they are somehow prevented from breeding properly. The genetics of the biological entities we are come into play in response to the horrific stress Americans undergo as we suffer continuous oppression from the unmerited rich, their refusal to earn a living, and their insistence to deprive all others of their own biological rights. Because they refuse to work for their own living, they steal everything they can from workers to support for their own sustenance. I suspect that historically, slavery situations like this have been overcome in our natural world with violence. Inversely, if violence and bloodshed occur, an impending population glut can be expected to threaten the stability of a social organization of biological organisms, so they are then led to breed for aggregate social stability. In our case, the US Government will ultimately need to be overthrown to avert a biologically- and politico-historically-guaranteed violent outcome. My suspicion, from clues like this, is that unless the US Dollar is completely abandoned and this capital dictatorship breaks up, a bloodless revolution will be inevitable.
    • excuse my wording

      a bloodless revolution will be *impossible.
  • the video belongs to NJTA. they have the right to ban distribution of

    their property.

    if PBS can ban a documentary that was funded and paid for by the public and not allow the public to see it until it has been re-edited to be favorable to the muslim extremists, if possible, censorship is alive and well.

    just as a caring parent has the duty to censor what an impressionable child can see and hear, the authorities have that same duty to the public.

    i say slap those smut-mongers silly.



  • no-No-NO-[b]NO[/b]-[b][u]NO!!!!![/u][/b]

    A. This video was taken by cameras operated by Big Brother? How did it get online in the first place? Was the person who leaked it found and fired? How long does Big Brother keep all the video footage stored? What is it used for other than to prove what happened during a particular incident?

    B. This is a [b]GROSS[/b] invasion of the privacy of the person who died as well as their family. It should definitely [b]NOT[/b] be "public domain"!!!!!!!

    C.This video is a snuff film! People think it's OK to show the [b]REALITY[/b] of the [u]death[/u] of someone, but yet go into hysterics because a kid [b]MIGHT[/b] be able to view a penis or breast??? What's [b][u]WRONG[/u][/b] with THIS picture??????????
  • Devil's Advocate

    I have not seen the video, and don't know the circumstances of the crash. However, is there no merit to the idea that the crash was avoidable, and that the video is an example of what not to do? I think there is.
    I think that many of the posters here are personalizing the situation unnecessarily. Since the NJ turnpike is something that they can relate to, they get constipated about the death. But let thousands or millions die in some far off country, and they don't give a rats a$$ about it. Show all the video that you want of that... By the way, have any of you pseudo-concerned idiot posters watched the news lately? Seen any of the videos of the carnage left after IEDs and car bombs? What makes this video worse than that?
    This pretty much sums up how I feel about the situation, and I would feel the same way if the victim was one of my family. FYI - I am not in any way associated with the following site, other than philisophically.

    All right, indignant fake crybabies... Flame on!
  • Talkback frame is cut off

    I accidentally voted against this story, when I wanted to vote for it. However, the voting frame is mostly cut off, and No was the only icon tall enough to register a click. Please fix and change my vote.