NFT Created to Take Video of Fatal Shooting Offline
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NFT Created to Take Video of Fatal Shooting Offline

9 months ago

The victim's family hopes that tokenizing the video will force social networks to take it down on the grounds of copyright infringement.

NFT Created to Take Video of Fatal Shooting Offline


The father of a reporter who was shot dead during a live TV news segment is turning the footage into a non-fungible token — in an attempt to get the video erased from the internet.

Alison Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward were killed as they did their jobs in Virginia by a disgruntled former colleague. Because the 17-second attack was beamed into thousands of homes, footage of their deaths ended up going viral.

Video clips of what happened have been viewed millions of times — and Alison's father Andy has been engaged in a six-year battle with social networks to get the footage taken down from the internet.

Fed up with his lack of success in getting Big Tech to cooperate, Andy is now tokenizing the video and claiming ownership over it, in the hope that major platforms will take more aggressive action to avoid being accused of copyright infringement.

Speaking to The Washington Post, Parker described this attempt as an "act of desperation." And it marks an unexpected new application for NFTs. Whereas they were once used to give an air of exclusivity to memes that have been doing the rounds for decades — and secure six-figure sums for participants who unwittingly became world famous — this non-fungible token isn't being created for profit. It's explicitly designed to make the video disappear.

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Taking Action

Parker told the newspaper of his multiple attempts to stop the public from being able to watch his daughter's shooting. He enlisted a small army of people to hunt down the videos and report them, spoke to federal regulators, and even launched a congressional campaign that urged social networks to take greater responsibility for the dissemination of harmful content on their platforms.

But it seems that the approach that has the biggest impact involves copyright claims. Adam Massey, a lawyer who advised Parker, said:

"For victims of horrific images being distributed on the Internet generally, unfortunately and inappropriately copyright does end up being an effective tool."

Others in unfortunate circumstances have also used the protections afforded to them by copyright for their advantage. A father whose son was killed in the Sandy Hook shootings used copyright claims to get his child's picture taken down from conspiracy theory websites — and it has also been a powerful tool for women who have had videos of themselves uploaded to pornographic websites without their consent.

Parker has created an NFT of the tape on Rarible — and from here, he wants to have the legal ability to sue social networks into taking clips of the shooting down.

But there are challenges. He doesn't actually own the copyright to the footage, which had been broadcast by the CBS affiliate WDBJ, with the TV channel's owner refusing to hand it over. And given how anyone can mint an NFT, some opportunists could create copycat tokens on rival blockchains.

To make matters worse, the person who shot Alison and Adam was recording footage of his own.

Parker's interview with The Washington Post may have had unintended consequences, as the NFT he created was "temporarily blocked from public access" by Rarible after the story was published.

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