Happily announcing that Watchtower Comments is back up on YouTube with all study articles restored.
To answer the Knocking producers, I removed the introduction, including all 3 seconds of prirated Knocking video and replaced it with a lovely animation. The rest of the content is the same. Check out the videos here:
Whether or not this takedown threat was initiated by Knocking or the Watchtower Society is unknown. What I do know is that other unauthorized Knocking clips are still on YouTube, even though these are minutes long, with no commentary. Yet my mere 3 seconds was targeted. Hmmm...
To enable a free flow of commentary without the further information control tactics that the Watchtower Society has become known for, Watchtower Comments will be employing the many volunteers that had stepped forward in the last week.
Watchtower Comments is not beholden to any site or channel. It is the video content that we are emphasising. For that purpose you will be noticing Watchtower Comments videos popping up all over the web. Not just on YouTube, but on Metacafe, Yahoo, GodTube and any other video share site that our team deems appropriate.
A simple Google search for "Watchtower Comments" will be all you need to connect you to our videos.
Welcome to the information war. You bruise us in the heel, we bruise you in the head. Whether or not the Watchtower Society instigated this action through Knocking or not, an example is being made. This is what happens when the truth confronts the "Truth."
I thought you would be interested in the complete dialogue I had with Joel Engardio:
Your "Watchtower Comments" videos are illegally using copyright-protected footage from KNOCKING, a documentary broadcast on PBS. The introduction to all your videos uses the same clip from KNOCKING of a woman raising her hand during the Watchtower study in a Kingdom Hall. You do not have permission to use this footage. Please delete it from your videos, as well as any other footage you may have taken from KNOCKING. You use of the footage does not pass "Fair Use" standard and violates U.S. Copyright law. We will ask YouTube to block these videos if the illegally obtained footage is not removed.
Response to Knocking:
Hello Joel and Tom,
I have currently removed all videos from public view until this issue is resolved. I would like to make you an offer, unorthodox as it is. Please consider letting me retain the existing footage as is. In return I will add "Knocking" as a credit and include a link to your website in the comments. I will also refrain from any further use of your footage.
In addition, I would like to invite Joel to be interviewed by Watchtower Comments. There are many outside of the JW community that would like to hear from the source about the circumstances of "Knocking." The issues include the question of a gay filmmaker in contrast with Watchtower policies, why "Knocking" choose not to interview ex-JWs, or provide alternative views on the blood transfusion and child abuse issues.
Granted these are tough questions, but the interview would be respectful and professional. Think about it, especially in light of gay JWs who are socially closeted against their will or - even more painfully - those who are disfellowshipped for their sexual orientation.
I await your response.
Reply from Joel:
Thank you for your response. We prefer that you not use any footage from KNOCKING in your videos. This is our policy for anyone who uses our footage without permission. We have sent "cease and desist" letters to both JWs and non-JWs alike. The principle is about protecting the work of independent filmmakers and public television, which has to survive in a commercial media landscape overpowered by corporate giants. We hope you understand. We also hope you will respect our hard work and not take pieces of it to illustrate your own videos. Our footage was shot at great effort and expense. Whether you like KNOCKING or not, it should be respected as one attempt among hopefully many to tell the complex story of Jehovah's Witnesses. Rather than take our footage, we encourage you and others to shoot your own footage and tell your own stories. The more documentaries that exist on a given subject the better. This is what makes outlets like YouTube so great. Anyone can be a filmmaker. Just please use your own work. The KNOCKING footage is copyright protected and we will ask YouTube to remove it if it continues to be posted.
As for your invitation to be interviewed, thank you for the opportunity. I have already spoken about these issues in a number of media outlets, either in essays I have written or through interviews with mainstream journalists. Here are links to my essays in USA Today and on NPR that speak to your concerns. There are also Q&A interviews in the San Francisco Chronicle and on the PBS web site that address these questions. I feel everything I need to say has already been said on the topic and I am no longer focusing on KNOCKING as I have moved on to other projects. Feel free to quote from any of these previous interviews.
Excerpts from the links above (see if you can spot the weasel):
USA Today: Joel Engardio Editorial
So am I offended because my mom still distributes The Watchtower magazines, which include articles calling homosexuality a sin? If we want an open and free marketplace of ideas, many messages we don't like will compete for our attention. That's OK as long as no one is forced to listen or comply.
PBS Independant Lens: Knocking, Responding to Criticism
What about news reports that Jehovah's Witnesses have molested children?
While it is impossible to expect nothing bad would happen in such a longstanding and large group as Jehovah’s Witnesses, it would be unfair to highlight a crime common in general society as unique to Jehovah's Witnesses.
Isn't it hypocritical to make a film that says anything positive about a religion that does not allow actively gay members, since the producers are gay?
But the producers also respect the fact that despite the Jehovah's Witnesses’ belief on homosexuality, the Witnesses are apolitical and adhere to a strict separation of Church and State. Witnesses do not support anti-gay legislation and would never protest or try to thwart the efforts of gay people to secure their own equal rights.
NPR: Learning True Tolerance
by Joel Engardio
Obviously, I don't agree with my mom's belief that same-sex relationships are wrong. But I tolerate her religion because she has a right to her beliefs. And I like it that my mom doesn't politicize her beliefs. She has never voted for a law that discriminates against gay people, or against anyone who isn't a Jehovah's Witness. Her Bible tells her to love, above all.