By Frank Parlato
The Vow Season #2 came and went – a flop – as far as ratings go. It did not make the top 150 shows for two episodes. It was a huge drop in audience size compared to The Vow, Season #1.
From the start of Season #2, the audience was tepid, with 143,000 viewers for the first one-hour episode, dipping down to 105,000 for episode 2. Then plunging lower than 100,000 on episode 3 and 4. Episode 5 squeaked up just past 100,00, and episode 6, which was an hour and a half, had 129,000 viewers.
Still, it was a huge drop from Season 1, which had audiences of around one million per episode.
But The Vow #2 came and went. There are some interesting stories to tell about the show. Behind the scenes stuff.
For instance, Nicki Clyne accused Karim Amer of stealing her footage.
Karim Amer is the executive producer of The Vow and I thought the director too. But his wife is credited as director.
Nicki wrote, “Karim Amer asked to use some of my footage for a trailer that they said was going to show audiences that there is a whole “other side” to this story. He assured me he couldn’t use it without my written permission, and he would show me the trailer first. The trailer never aired, yet my footage appeared in this episode. I was not paid and did not sign a release.
Nicki Clyne is accusing Karim Amer of stealing her footage of Keith Raniere’s arrest.
Keith Raniere captured in Mexico on March 25, 2018
Clyne is not pleased with the way the Vow presented her. She claims Amer lied to her about how he would present her in the series, and also stole her video.
The story goes that he came to her apartment with one of his cameramen.
In her living room, he said, “I want to show your side of the story. I want to show you in the most sympathetic way. And give your side about of Keith.”
After telling her he was going to make sure her side was fairly shown, with class, dignity and empathy, he asked to review the arrest video.
She said, “How can I be sure you won’t use it without my permission?”
Amer said, “the safest way to ensure that is to give it to me now in front of the witness [his employee]. Then I would have to pay for it, if you consent to let me use it.”
Nicki said she would give it to him to review, but did not consent to let him use it. She owned it. She took the video on her cell phone when the Mexican Federales arrested Raniere on March 26, 2018.
If she chose not to let him use it, he could not use it. She gave it to him on that condition.
He could not use it without her consent. Right? It was her choice.
“Of course, my dear,” Amer said. “You can trust me. I am the director of the Vow. I am here to help you. I want to get your side out.”
Nicki gave him a copy of the video of the arrest of Keith Raniere.
Later, Amer tried to buy it from her. She did not want to sell.
You can trust me, Amer supposedly said to Nicki Clyne.
Extensive texts and emails exist, which I have seen, with the Vow producers asking Nicki to sell the arrest video to them.
Nicki refused repeatedly.
Finally, they let her know they were going to use the video anyway. She might as well sign a release and get some cash.
Nicki sent letters to Amer and then to his lawyers, demanding they not use her video.
But Amer knew the arrest video was critical to his storytelling.
There was nothing in writing between him and Nicki. It was only his good word.
It would be costly for Nicki to sue. HBO has a team of lawyers. What lawyer will take on Nicki’s case without a large retainer?
To get around a claim of outright theft of her video, The Vow claimed it was ‘Fair Use,” because it was used incidentally to an interview.
The Vow interviewed a police officer who conducted the investigation into Raniere’s going to Mexico, and an individual who carried out the ultimate capture of Raniere.
While they interviewed, they used Nicki’s video.
They “intercut” footage from the video, while the interviewee described what is happening in the video, including the location of the arrest, the individuals involved, and the timeline of events.
So Amer flipped it around. He did not say he used the video for the important visual scene it showed. He claimed the video was of secondary importance and used merely to illustrate the points made verbally by the interviewee, to illustrate and reveal to the audience the nature of the arrest, a significant moment in the story of the Series.
So it was Fair Use, he said.
And Amer had possession of it, however he got it.
And possession is to some is all 10 points of the law.
I know some will say this is cricket. Good on Amer. He tricked Nicki Clyne.
After all, Nicki supports Keith Raniere, an evil man – the rules of fair play and honesty don’t apply to her.
If Amer gave his word to you or me, that should have some meaning. Some force of character behind it. But it was only Nicki Clyne. He only gave his word to Nicki Clyne.
There is an extensive record of written communications between Nicki and the producers of the Series, including Amer. I have seen the communications.
Clyne repeatedly refused permission to include the video in the Series. She referred to his promise, inducing her to conditionally give him a copy.
But they used it anyway.
NOTE: The fair use defense to copyright infringement is one of the built-in First Amendment accommodations that ease the tension between free expression and U.S. copyright law.
In a lawsuit, the defendant carries the legal burden of showing that their infringing use was fair.
Clyne could have a strong case because Amer and HBO’s commercial use of large portions of the video substantially devalued Clyne’s property interests.
Once HBO made the video commercially available for the masses, Clyne’s copyrighted property was rendered nearly valueless. A court may not buy Amer’s argument of fair use, particularly where Clyne repeatedly communicated to Amer that she would not license the video for any price.