Just about to head out to Premier for the Unbelievable programs, and then back to Heathrow and the flight across Africa to JoBurg. Saw a post in a quick run through my RSS feeds that made me go, “You’re kidding, right?” Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Steve Hays is kidding. Steve has suggested that Caner’s recent attempt to have one of my videos exposing his lies and misrepresentations taken down is in contradiction to Rich Pierce’s recent post regarding the wholesale posting of entire presentations on YouTube. It is difficult for me to see how Steve cannot see his category error, but allow me to make it plain.
First, I wish we lived in a perfect world where A&O was simply the extension of a single local church that would have sufficient resources to support the ministry all alone. That would be great. In a perfect world. But that is not our context. We have financial needs, and I would dare anyone to show me any major ministry out there that says less about fundraising and spends less time on the topic than we do. In any case, when we do major events, say, like the Bart Ehrman debate a few years ago, there is a tremendous amount of cost involved. In that case, we partnered with another ministry, and hence they provided a lot of the input. In other instances, we are the ones shouldering all the costs of cameras and production and editing—things which you may not see, but which have to take place anyway. I have often walked into Rich’s office and found him laboring in front of video production software, attempting to meld together a meaningful and useful presentation from one of my debates. It doesn’t just happen. I wish we could simply throw every single thing I do up on the web for everyone to use and enjoy. But there is a simple reality: if we did that all the time (we surely do it often enough!) we would not be able to continue doing what we are doing. Hence, when folks come along, purchase a hard-fought piece of material from our webstore, and then turn right around and post it, they are saying, “I know better than you.” Or, worse, they are saying, “I don’t want you to be able to do this anymore, so I will do all in my power to make sure you must stop.”
Secondly, there is an obvious difference between a ten minute video of portions of Ergun Caner’s presentation at an apologetics conference and the posting of an entire presentation purchased on the web. Obviously, I did not simply repost Caner’s talk. I interacted with it, providing criticism and correction. I only posted what was necessary to establish that Caner had made these claims as part of his regular presentation, in response to the assertion that Caner simply made “misstatements” once in a while. This is called fair use. It is necessary to be able to criticize, correct, and interact. On the other hand, those taking entire debates, presentations, talks, etc., and posting them on the web, having purchased them elsewhere, are not criticizing, interacting, or doing anything other than attempting to get hits on their own pages or channels. There is nothing of “fair use” in such activities. It is nothing more than a statement, “I do not honor the work that went into this—I wish to make it my own without doing the work it takes to produce it.”
How anyone can miss that distinction is beyond me, frankly.