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Caner loses copyright claim to block blogger’s posting of videoscomment (0)

June 5, 2014

A Georgia Baptist college president has lost a second legal battle to block the online posting of videos of him giving contradictory versions of a famous “Jihad to Jesus” testimony popular in Southern Baptist preaching circles after 9/11.

U.S. District Judge Norman Moon in Lynchburg, Va., granted summary judgment May 14 against Brewton-Parker College President Ergun Caner’s copyright claim to two videos posted online by Jonathan Autry, a blogger who attended Liberty Theological Seminary in Lynchburg while Caner was dean.

Autry, represented by his brother, attorney Joshua Autry of Lancaster, Pa., claimed in his defense that he once supported Caner but lost confidence in him after blogs and news articles began casting doubts on the veracity of claims that he was raised overseas and trained as a terrorist before his dramatic conversion to Christianity prevented him from carrying out an act like the terrorist attacks against America on Sept. 11, 2001.

Caner sued in August 2013 claiming that he owned the copyright to videos of him speaking in training sessions to United States Marines about what they needed to know about Islam before being deployed in 2005, and that Autry and another blogger posted them online without his permission.

The judge, however, determined that Autry’s posting of the material constituted “fair use,” because it was for the purpose of making “religiously based criticism against a public figure on a matter of public concern” based on Autry’s sincerely held religious beliefs that “it is morally wrong to lie, and especially wrong to lie in a church and to U.S. Marines.”

During an oral hearing April 30, Caner’s lawyer introduced an argument not in the written complaint that Autry was “not qualified” to make a fair use claim because he is a disgruntled former employee motivated by revenge and using a copyright defense to hurt Caner financially by engaging in “cyber-terrorism.”

Moon called that an “astounding” claim that is “ludicrous on its face.”

The judge observed in a footnote differences in what Caner told Marines about his background in 2005 and what is published in a book that he co-wrote with his younger brother published in 2002.

For the purposes of his ruling, however, the judge said he did not consider whether or not the blogs criticizing Caner were true, but only that their posting was during a time when Caner’s remarks were under media scrutiny.

Inevitable outcome

By issuing summary judgment, a ruling in favor of one party determined without a trial, the judge determined that allowing further proceedings would only delay an inevitable outcome.

“I find that more discovery would not give rise to a dispute of material fact preventing the entry of summary judgment,” the judge ruled. 

“Even if Plaintiff obtained the information he seeks, no reasonable juror could find for Plaintiff.

“I will not allow Plaintiff to strategically prolong this case through an unsupported request for further discovery,” Moon said.


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