Scientist who criticised DJ for vaccination scare talk gets copyright threat

Dr Ben Goldacre, who writes the Guardian's "Bad Science" column, blogged about a UK radio DJ's irresponsible reporting on vaccination, including the 44 minute radio show in audio form (he could have edited down, but he didn't want to be accused of selective editing). In response, the radio station, LBC 97.3, sent lawyers after him, threatening to sue him for copyright infringement.

In my part of London, we have live smallpox measles and TB scares on a regular basis, because so many parents have been convinced that inoculation is bad for kids that they won't get them their jabs. They're not just risking their children's lives, but the lives of the kids around them -- first, the kids who are too small to get inoculated, and second, the kids for whom the inoculations don't take, who would otherwise be protected by herd immunity.

The science on inoculations is a settled matter. The fact that some vaccinations are given around the same age in which autism symptoms first present means that some fraction of kids will develop autism around the same time that they get their shots. This is not causality, it is co-occurrence. Everyone knows someone whose kid got sick around vaccination time -- but the plural of "anaecdote" is not "fact."

Goldacre wants to systematically rebut every point that this DJ, Jeni Barnett, made on the public airwaves. There is a compelling public interest here that makes this a case of fair dealing -- but the radio station's deep pockets and retained lawyers mean that this doesn't matter.

Two days ago I posted about a broadcast in which their presenter Jeni Barnett exemplified some of the most irresponsible, ill-informed, and ignorant anti-vaccination campaigning that I have ever heard on the public airwaves.

To illustrate my grave concerns, I posted the relevant segment about MMR from her show, 44 minutes, which a reader kindly excerpted for me from the rest of the three hour programme. It is my view that Jeni Barnett torpedoes her reputation in that audio excerpt so effectively that little explanation is needed.

LBC’s lawyers say that the clip I posted is a clear infringement of their copyright, that I must take it down immediately, that I must inform them when I have done so, and that they “reserve their rights”.

Er, “help”. Legal Chill from LBC 97.3 and “Global Radio” over Jeni Barnett’s MMR scaremongering (Thanks, Paul!)