It was not against the rules when a UCSB student videotaped an event at the MultiCultural Center Theater without prior permission on Oct. 3, but the UC legal office said it soon will be.
On Oct. 3, the theater hosted a free lecture titled “Israel/Palestine in Crisis.” Senior global and Slavic studies major Joey Tartakovsky was videotaping the event with a hand-held camera when MCC staff asked him to stop taping.
Tartakovsky said he had taped the event for over an hour when he was approached by an unidentified MCC staff member and Garay Menicucci, assistant director of the Center for Middle East Studies. Tartakovsky said both individuals asked him to stop videotaping the event, which featured Salah Hassan, professor at Michigan State University, Joel Beinin of Stanford University, Lisa Hajjar of UCSB and Catherine Cook of the Middle East Research and Information Project, publisher of a quarterly magazine on the Middle East.
“I don’t know why they didn’t want me taping,” Tartakovsky said. “Maybe they worried the speaker would say something embarrassing to them. They were saying radical things from a pro-Palestinian perspective.”
Menicucci denied asking Tartakovsky to stop taping and said he did not know why MCC staff asked Tartakovsky to stop.
An MCC representative said anyone who wished to videotape an event at the MCC Theater had to get the speaker’s permission first. Tartakovsky said that he asked for permission during the question-and-answer session following the program. The speakers agreed, and Tartakovsky, who said he was taping the event in his capacity as a columnist for the Gaucho Free Press, was allowed to resume taping.
The issue was referred to the UC Office of the General Counsel to determine if the MCC had the authority to stop someone from taping a free, public event.
David Bernbaum of the Office of the General Counsel said that, at the time of the incident, “we didn’t have a written down rule about videotaping.”
Bernbaum said he would advise UCSB to adopt a rule that anyone interested in videotaping such events be required to request permission from the speakers in advance, mainly for the purpose of determining how the person would use the content.
“It is an intellectual property concern,” Bernbaum said. “When someone is just speaking words they are not protected. But once they are recorded, the speaker has an interest in those words.”
Bernbaum said Tartakovsky’s use of the videotape as an accurate record for his use as a columnist was “appropriate. But if someone were to sell notes or content from an event on a web site, for instance, that would be inappropriate.”