Friday, March 30, 2007

More on YouTube as Legal Information Tool

This is a follow-up to the January 14, 2007 Library Boy post entitled YouTube as a Legal Information Tool.

That post discussed, among other things, the use of the Internet and of YouTube video streaming by the lawyers representing an individual detained by U.S. authorities at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. The lawyers produced a video entitled Guantanamo Unclassified to argue that their client Adel Hamad was innocent of any terrorism-related connections.

This Wednesday, Slate.com published an article entitled The YouTube Defense - Human rights go viral that analyzes the impact and potential of non-traditional means such as web 2.0 technologies as legal tools:

"This doesn't mean that every Gitmo detainee will soon have his own Web campaign—not all of them have a story as compelling as Hamad's or advocates as new-media savvy. After all, lawyers are trained to litigate, not stream video. But even that is changing. Harvard Law School recently revamped its curriculum, identifying creative 'problem solving' as a core skill for young lawyers. Last semester, I sat in on a class that was taught partially in the online world of Second Life where, hokey or not, students practiced the art of public advocacy".

"YouTube and its ilk mean that today anyone can tell human rights stories. And as Hamad's video shows, if the stories are told with enough brio and skill, the public will pay attention, and the government may be more likely to respond. Critics pooh-pooh the importance of all of this by pointing to the fact that civil rights advocates have traditionally had a friend in the press. But they're missing the point: YouTube goes where the mainstream media can't or won't go. It's visceral. It's story first, message second. And it gives advocates instant access to an audience in a way that press releases and op-eds never can".

The Slate article also describes an online video created by a former Marine who paid two friends $800 to waterboard him in his basement. Waterboarding is a torture technique ("coercive interrogation") used by United States personnel:

"It's got some of the qualities of gross-out TV. And yet nothing I've read about waterboarding has stayed with me like that video".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:20 pm

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