California’s Same Sex Marriage Trial To Be Broadcast On YouTube - OR NOT

California’s Same Sex Marriage Trial To Be Broadcast On YouTube   OR NOT

UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court has now blocked the trial from appearing on YouTube, claiming it could impact the fairness of the trial.  Bummer.  That pretty much negates everything I wrote above.  I guess we'll have to wait for our landmark broadcast-online court case.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has decided to allow the federal trial on the constitutionality of California's same-sex marriage ban to air on YouTube.  This is kind of big news for a few different reasons.

Very few trials are recorded and then broadcast (in any form), and almost no federal trials are broadcast at all.  Judge Walker initially toyed with the idea of a live stream, but has since decided that some measure of delay is necessary to ensure the court has total control.  The trial will be broadcast live, however, to the overflow room in the courthouse as well as a handful of other courthouses in places like Seattle and Portland that have requested it.

The trial itself is kind of monumental, as it is the first federal trial over whether denying gays the right to wed is discrimination.  (For those of you living under a rock, this is the trial challenging California's Prop 8—which passed a year ago and banned gay marriage).  I'm certainly not here to dive into that hot button topic, but the fact that the trial is happening is pretty fascinating news in and of itself.

And big news. The importance and scope of the trial is most of the reason the judge decided to allow the broadcast, saying, "I always thought that if people could see how the judiciary really works, they would take a somewhat different view of it."

There is one tiny step that needs to be taken care of before this thing is certain… the approval of the Chief Judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  However, that approval is said to be a formality.

The reason this is big news to us should be obvious, but I'll say it anyway:  one of the biggest federal trials of my lifetime is going to air on YouTube.  How far we've come, eh? YouTube… it's not just for cute cats and lonely girls anymore, is it?  I almost wish they were planning to upload the videos across several platforms.  Yes, I know YouTube is the more-than-dominant player in the video portal game, but something like this—something this big—should be also available on Vimeo and Brightcove and any portal with some measure of market share.

But that's a small quibble.  I'm just excited that a huge trial like this is the one that's going to push the envelope by embracing online video streaming.

Imagine where this might lead.  Sure, it might backfire and be a colossal failure as an experiment.  This is a very controversial topic, and emotions are bound to run high both in and outside the courtroom.  The judge himself has reserved the right to pull the plug if things get out of hand, and promises to black out the witnesses who wish to not be filmed—a very wise decision in my book… just because someone is a material witness in a big court case does not mean they've asked for instant celebrity status or Internet scrutiny.

But if it succeeds, what does that mean?  What future court cases will be available online?  What landmark cases that your children's children will learn about in grade school might we be able to stream online in the next few years?

What other government proceedings and non-entertainment events might we see making their way online?  Senate hearings?  Bill signings?  Commencement addresses?  How many people will tune in and watch some portion of this trial that might not otherwise have followed it using a more traditional medium like newspapers or television?  I'll be curious to see what kind of numbers it draws on views as well, as that may very well impact where we go next with this kind of thing.

UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court has now blocked the trial from appearing on YouTube, claiming it could impact the fairness of the trial.  Bummer.  That pretty much negates everything I wrote above.  I guess we'll have to wait for our landmark broadcast-online court case.

About the Author -
Jeremy Scott is the founder of The Viral Orchard, an Internet marketing firm offering content writing and development services, viral marketing consulting, and SEO services. Jeremy writes constantly, loves online video, and enjoys helping small businesses succeed in any way he can. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • CornetMustich

    It's time.
    Onward to equality, Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace,
    Washington, Connecticut, USA.

  • http://twitter.com/ryanMoultrup ryanMoultrup

    It's about time they allowed media into such a high profile federal case. I'm not surprised that they are broadcasting on youtube it just shows how powerful the internet has become as a news aggregator.

  • Buckley Wilde

    Thanks Jeremy for interesting update.
    Online video seems to mature and add more value everyday. As you've mentioned in the past, YouTube is the second largest search engine on the web. Keep the interesting stuff coming!
    THANKS!

  • Barbara Etheridge

    Why don't you CHANGE YOUR TITLE?! Are you just trying to trick people into clicking on your idiotic article? Moron.

    • http://www.reelseo.com/ Mark Robertson

      good suggestions - Done... We dont try to trick anyone - hence the update at the top of the article. I wont even respond to the "moron" comment.