TV station taps copyright law to erase embarrassing broadcast

After a humiliating gaffe following a San Francisco plane crash, KTVU uses the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to have clips of the event removed from the Internet.

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Some clips of KTVU's Asiana news broadcast have been removed from YouTube. Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

A San Francisco Bay Area television station that became world famous for a humiliating gaffe during a news broadcast about a deadly plane crash is apparently trying to erase the event through copyright law.

Six days after Asiana flight 214 crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6, KTVU morning anchor Tori Campbell said the station had just confirmed the names of the pilots and proceeded to read them out loud as they were simultaneously displayed on viewers' screens. The names read by Campbell -- "Captain Sum Ting Wong," "Wi Tu Lo," "Ho Lee Fuk," and "Bang Ding Ow" -- were confirmed by an intern at the National Transportation Safety Board but apparently not read out loud at the station until the broadcast.

While Campbell and the station quickly issued an apology, that did not stop clips of the broadcast from flooding video-sharing sites and social networks. But the Fox TV affiliate has arrived at a novel solution to its embarrassing moment: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which requires Web sites to remove copyrighted material at the copyright holder's request.

Some of the videos uploaded by viewers have vanished from the Internet, replaced by messages that say, "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by KTVU."

While the station certainly has the legal right to protect its copyrighted materials, that is not the primary goal behind the clip-removal campaign, according to Tom Ramponi, the station's general manager and vice president.

"The accidental mistake we made was insensitive and offensive," Raponi told MediaBistro on Monday. "By now, most people have seen it. At this point, continuing to show the video is also insensitive and offensive, especially to the many in our Asian community who were offended. Consistent with our apology, we are carrying through on our responsibility to minimize the thoughtless repetition of the video by others."

Three people died and more than 180 were injured when Asiana's Boeing 777 crashed into the runway while attempting to land at San Francisco International Airport.

A clip of the broadcast is embedded below. Please note that racially insensitive content is included.

(Via Wired)

Updated at 12 p.m. 7/23 to correct name of agency that confirmed bogus pilot information.