Bryant Gumbel, Streaming Video, and the Supreme Court

By Jim Scoutten
Web Video Is Putting Firearms and the Shooting Sports at Risk.

AR15 Rifles
AR15 Rifles
Jim Scoutten
Jim Scoutten

USA –-( I don’t know how much audience Bryant Gumbel has for his Real Sports reports on HBO. ( )

Apparently not a lot of shooting enthusiasts, since none have commented to me on his recent attack on AR Rifles and the Shooting Sports.

But I have now seen the special and was not at all surprised both John Scoutten and I were included in Gumbel’s attack on the AR in civilian hands, with the head-shaking final comments that he cannot believe shooting an AR is considered a sport.

Neither was I surprised that a collection of the “B-Roll” was from Three Gun Nation events.

Every scrap of video taken for that Gumbel report was absolutely legally used, even though the video is copyrighted by the producers. The reason:  The Doctrine of Fair Use established for journalism by the US Supreme Court.

The video John and I appeared in was a segment from a recent Shooting USA show, reviewing the updated S&W M&P-15 Sport.

Smith & Wesson asked for a copy to stream from their website, and we gave the video to them, since they are a significant sponsor of our shows.

Three Gun Nation apparently streams most of their shows to try to get more audience for their work.

The problem is that anything streamed or posted on YouTube is visible to interested journalists, and any of them may take all or part of that video for use in their work under the Doctrine of Fair Use. They don’t need to ask for permission, or even notify the copyright holder they’re using the video.

Shooting USA, and American Shooter before it, have always been classified as Broadcast Journalism, so you’ve likely see our application of Fair Use in using a clip of Dirty Harry as we introduced the S&W 500 Magnum.  That use was defined under one of the conditions of Fair Use, that it be “instructive” in the resulting form of the production.

A second definition of Fair Use is that the work be “critical”, like a movie reviewer commenting on a new release.  We’ve used that definition when we reviewed the Top Ten Movie Gunfights, and used clips of the action to illustrate the ranking. We could, and did, use the movie video without the permission of the copyright holder. The Supremes say that’s legal for us as journalists, but not for any show classified as entertainment.

There are two additional definitions, that the resulting work using video be “transformative”, that the end result of the production be well beyond the original purpose of the copyrighted work. And Fair Use is permitted in producing a “parody” of the original work.

Those are examples of how we’ve used the Doctrine of Fair Use to enhance our shows over the years.  What you need to know is that the same law allows any journalist to take and use your posted video for any purpose they want.  And we all know the Mainstream Media is not likely to be using your video to show how hi-cap magazines are a really good idea for home defense.

Quite the opposite.

I still remember a trip to California early in 1994 , when the Clinton Gun Ban was being debated in congress. Each night on the local ABC station in Los Angeles, the anchor would update the progress of the bill that would limit magazine capacity to ten rounds.  And each night they aired B-Roll of some hapless IPSC shooter blazing away with his 21-round race-gun to illustrate how dangerous those big magazines were.

Back then, there was no streaming, so that IPSC shooter had gotten into the file tape, likely during sports coverage of a local match.  But once in their system, ABC could do anything they wanted with the video.

Now, with bloggers posting i-phone video, and with the rush by Firearms manufacturers to post their video on YouTube, you need to know you’re offering the liberal media anything they want to take to make their anti-gun point.

Before you prompt your techies to post that new video demo of your AR running smoothly, as it empties a 30 round mag, you need to ask if you’re going to be happy seeing that video in the next Bryant Gumbel anti-gun special, or posted on the New York Times website.

The Supremes have ruled the media can do anything they want with your copyrighted video.

About Shooting USA:

Jim Scoutten, America’s Most Watched Firearms Reporter, has been on the beat for 24 years, reporting the stories of the Shooting Sports and the firearms Industry. The show produces a series of popular segments focusing on historical guns, the personalities in the sport and industry, insider reports from gun tests, and practical tips from shooting sports pros. The show appeals to shooting sports enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels by providing practical tips on safely handling, modifying and repairing their favorite guns.

For more information, please visit

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