County Judge rules that JZK, Inc. videos are not public records

UPDATE: September 19, 2014
“Judge Denies Freedom Foundation’s Motion To Dismiss Lawsuit”
By Steve Wyble, Nisqually Valley News.
Read more
Click here for the full article.

UPDATE: September 26, 2014
“Judge Denies JZK, Inc.’s Request To Compel Discovery”
“Company Seeks to Seal Video Evidence, Citing Copyright”
By Steve Wyble, Nisqually Valley News.
Read more
Click here for the full article.

Press Release from JZK, Inc.:
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Schaller ruled Friday [August 15] that video excerpts given to the County Commissioners by Glen Morgan in May were not public records and ordered the County to not disclose them to Robert Menna or any other requester.

Last Friday’s hearing was set for a preliminary injunction. At the outset, Judge Schaller indicated that since the Public Records Act (PRA) requires an expedited schedule, she intended to rule on the matter as a motion for a permanent injunction so there would be no further hearings.

The essential question was whether the actions by Mr. Morgan constituted the making of a public record. JZK, Inc. and Thurston County argued they did not. Mr. Menna argued that they did. The Court sided with JZK, Inc. and the County, citing the Act itself, which broadly defines public records but not as broadly as Mr. Menna or Mr. Morgan would perhaps like.

In making her ruling, Judge Schaller read from the Act and also cited relevant case law that states a public record must relate to “the conduct of government or the performance of governmental functions.” Thus the Court ruled the videos were not a public record and were not to be disclosed to Mr. Menna or any other requester.

“You can’t launder stolen merchandise through a County official,” said Mike Wright, Legal Affairs Manager for JZK, Inc. “Likewise, if someone had presented a pirated copy of The Hobbit DVD to the Commissioners and invited people to submit a public records request for copies, I don’t think the County would have done so.”

On May 6, 2014, during the Public Comment period of an open meeting of Thurston County’s Board of County Commissioners, Glen Morgan of the Freedom Foundation delivered DVDs with video excerpts to the Commissioners.

On May 8, 2014, Mr. Morgan posted his comments to the Commissioners on YouTube. In his remarks, Mr. Morgan stated he had submitted four copies of documents to the Board “which include videos that JZ Knight made” because JZ Knight had made political donations to some of the Commissioners when they were running for office in 2012. Mr. Morgan also provided a PRA request form and encouraged people to request copies of the videos from the County.

The videos Morgan submitted to the Board were excerpts of a pirated live stream from a private event at Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment on March 31, 2011. The stolen video had surfaced in the 2012 election and is the subject of other litigation against Morgan and the Freedom Foundation in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

In addition, Wright said that JZK, Inc. may ask the County to retain the video as evidence of criminal copyright infringement. “We are all familiar with the FBI Anti-Piracy Warning on videos we buy or rent. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.”

Posted: August 21st, 2014 - Featured Articles, JZ Knight, News Headlines, RSE

Comments are closed.