Dad of Reporter Shot Dead by Colleague on Live TV Turns Footage Into NFT
The father of a Virginia TV reporter shot dead live on TV has turned the horrifying footage into an NFT… but he is not trying to sell it.
On August 26, 2015, 24-year-old Alison Parker and her 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward were killed in the middle of a news segment by a disgruntled former colleague. The woman they were interviewing was also shot, but she survived.
Since then, Parker’s dad Andy has been desperately trying to scrub the internet of the video… and his latest strategy — albeit probably a futile one — is to gain ownership of it by making it a non-fungible token.
“This is the Hail Mary,” he told The Washington Post, admitting it is an “act of desperation.”
Two versions of the gristly incident were recorded: one by the cameraman, and one by the shooter Vester Lee Flanagan II himself.
Flanagan had been fired two years earlier by CBS affiliate WDBJ, because of his volatile behavior, and had to be escorted out of the building by police. He later filed a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the station, claiming he was discriminated against because he was a Black gay man; the complaint was dismissed after an investigation found it uncorroborated.
On the morning of the 26th, the former reporter approached Parker and Ward as they were interviewing Vicki Gardner, executive director of the local chamber of commerce, and opened fire on all three.
A total of 15 shots were fired. Parker and Ward were struck in the head and torso, and died at the scene.
Gardener, who had curled into a fetal position in an effort to play dead, was shot in the back, but survived following surgery.
Flanagan would shoot himself dead five hours later after a car chase with police.
While big platforms such as Facebook and YouTube have taken down thousands of the clips, dozens remain, there and elsewhere. Although such violent videos clearly violate their policies, under current law, the companies are largely protected from liability on the content users upload.
Which is why Andy Parker is attempting the copyright route, which is more effectively policed.
While he does not own copyright of the footage shot by Ward — WDBJ parent company Gray Television does — he nevertheless created an NFT of the tape on Rarible in an effort to gain control of it, and thus more power to go after any platforms hosting it.
He did not inform Gray Television of his intentions; according to the Post, his relationship with the company has broken down amid the ongoing dispute. The company even accuse him of leaving “threatening and harassing voicemails for Gray Television employees at all levels.”
Kevin Latek, chief legal officer for Gray Television, insists that their footage does not actually depict the murder, since the “video does not show the assailant or the shootings during the horrific incident.”
He said the company has “repeatedly offered to provide Mr. Parker with the additional copyright license” to force social media sites to remove it “if it is being used inappropriately.”
But without actual ownership, Parker contends this is useless.
In statements, both Facebook and YouTube said they remain committed to removing the footage whenever they catch it or it is flagged. But to Parker’s despair, versions of it persist seven years on.
There is one person who has not watched the footage to this day: Andy Parker himself.
“I can’t,” he told the Post. “I can’t.”
This content was originally published here.