KWTX-TV photographer Dan Mulloney cringes when he sees the dramatic news footage he shot while under heavy gunfire during the botched Feb. 28 raid on Mount Carmel aired on what he calls “sleaze TV” and competing networks.
Then he gets mad.
But unfortunately in the world of modern electronic media, using exclusive, copyrighted video without authorization is becoming as common as the evening news.
And the bigger the story — and it doesn’t get much bigger than the Branch Davidian cult story — the more common the “pirating” of others’ works.
“I don’t like it at all,” Mulloney said. “I shot it for the station and for CBS. Here we are with exclusive video of probably the story of the century, and now it’s turning up on “Hard Copy” and an ABC News special Tuesday night with Peter Jennings, on NBC and everywhere else.
“Part of the game is to beat the competitors. Channels 25 and 6 were home asleep, and them and everyone else has been playing catch-up. Here we were dodging bullets and putting our lives on the line to get the video, and now a lot of them are pirating it off of us and CBS. Even sleaze TV is pirating it,” he said.
Mulloney and Channel 10 reporter John McLemore followed the agent-filled cattle trailers into the Mount Carmel compound that fateful morning and were about 50 yards away from the compound when the massive hail of gunfire erupted. They hid behind a bus and their news vehicle to capture the riveting news footage that has become so familiar now to viewers around the world.
After Jennings’ special Tuesday night, CBS attorneys in New York were on the phone with ABC the first thing Wednesday morning, asking where they got Mulloney’s footage and why.
“Apparently, Channel 9 in Australia, which is a CBS client, received the footage, which they are allowed to do as a CBS client, and they manufactured a special around it,” said Larry Doyle, CBS senior producer in charge of network coverage in Waco. “ABC network officials purchased the special from Channel 9 in Australia, and they told ABC that some of it was restricted.
“ABC apparently was confused and didn’t realize which portion was exclusive. But it seems to me that this is very well-known footage and has been since Feb. 28 and everyone has acknowledged that it came from only one source. It seems like it was a huge mistake to make. But when you get kicked in the teeth and you are losing on the story, you get it from any source you can,” Doyle said.
Liz Noyer, and ABC spokesperson in New York, said Thursday that Channel 9 officials said nothing to the network about not being able to use the CBS footage.
“The issue has not been raised that Channel 9 might not have been authorized to let us use CBS footage,” she said. “Since the issue has been raised, we are not using it any more and will not again until the issue has been resolved.”
Virgil Teter, KWTX-TV vice president for news, said the station’s attorneys were called in reaction in the weeks following the raid to combat pilfering.