Friday, July 31, 2009

Anthony Watts abuses DMCA to suppress criticism

Anthony Watts, a radio meteorologist who has collected evidence of badly sited weather stations to argue that climate change data is incorrect, was the subject of Peter Sinclair's latest Climate Change Crock of the Week video. Rather than attempt to refute the criticism (which would be difficult--both "good" and "bad" weather stations show the same long-term temperature trends), Watts resorted to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to get Sinclair's video taken offline. Watts doesn't hold copyright on television footage he appears in on Glenn Beck's show, which has been used in fair use excerpts, anyway.

But the video is back, and you can see it for yourself here.

(Via Pharyngula.)

UPDATE: As Rich Trott points out, Watts has replied here. He says that the basis of his copyright complaint is that the video shows the cover of and photographs and graphs from his book, but doesn't say why he thinks the video exceeds fair use. He says that the NCDC's response to his data (a) used out-of-date data and (b) used a process guaranteed to have two similar graphs, by taking a weighted average of the good and bad station reports even in the line reported as just the good stations.

This is not exactly correct--there is a correction for urban heating that does use nearby station data, but even if you do not perform the urban heating adjustment step, you STILL get two graphs with essentially the same trend. (This was indirectly linked to in my previous post on this subject, through my link to the Daily Doubt blog of frequent commenter Hume's Ghost.)

UPDATE (August 10, 2009): Climate Progress points out the inanity of Watts' defense of his DMCA abuse, observing that he's suggesting copyright infringement on the basis of a few graphs and images shown from his book, which is given away for free in PDF form on the Internet. So not only was Sinclair well within fair use based on the amount and substantiality of material used, there's no chance that Sinclair's video could possibly have had any adverse effect on the commercial market for Watts' book, since there isn't one.


Oris said...

Excellent video. Unfortunatelythose who need to view it probably will not.

Magic Tony said...

Ha! Great video. I particularly enjoyed the part where he plotted the overall temperature data against data from the "optimal" weather stations. That's an argument-killer, there.

Trott said...

Watts has posted a detailed but rambling response to the video. He includes his explanation as to why the data plot used in Sinclair's video (mentioned by Magic Tony above) is invalid. And it seems like he may be correct on that point. A commenter at Pharyngula tried to address the argument, but "retracted".

Lippard said...

Thanks, Rich.

I've updated my post, along with a link to a site that gives more detail on the correction process that Watts is talking about.

Hume's Ghost said...

I estimate that if someone is a guest on Glenn Beck's program there's about an 85% chance it's someone you don't need to take seriously. For the Fox show I might bump that up to about 95%.

I'm only half-kidding.