2014

Co-Founder of Baby Einstein Files Open-Records Complaint for Access to University of Washington Research

SEATTLE, Jan. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- William Clark, co-founder of Baby Einstein, has filed an open-records complaint in Washington state court (King County) asking a judge to order the University of Washington to release records relating to two studies that examined the effects of television viewing on young children.

Clark said he has been pursuing release of the experimental methods, raw data and interpretative methods of the "Associations Between Media Viewing and Language Development in Children Under Age 2 Years" and "Early Television Exposure and Subsequent Attentional Problems in Children" studies for nearly three years. The University has either denied his requests or failed to be fully responsive.

"All we're asking for is the basis for what the University has represented to be groundbreaking research," Clark said. "Given that other research studies have not shown the same outcomes, we would like the raw data and analytical methods from the Washington studies so we can audit their methodology, and perhaps duplicate the studies, to see if the outcomes are the same."

The studies were widely publicized when the researchers concluded television viewing by babies or younger children could be harmful. Baby Einstein and other brands of baby videos were named in the "Associations" article.

Clark believes parents should be discriminating about the quality of media they allow their children to watch, and how that media is used. He cited Baby Mozart, Baby Shakespeare and Baby Van Gogh as examples of age-appropriate content that exposes babies and parents to classical music, poetry and Impressionist art in a positive, engaging way.

Clark is not seeking any monetary gain. The Court may award recovery of legal fees and impose a penalty on the University of Washington. In the event a penalty is awarded, Clark will donate the proceeds to breast cancer research.

Clark submitted his first public records request for the "Associations" study in August 2007, after the University of Washington heavily publicized the research results. The University refused the request in November 2007, claiming the disclosure of the records would cause competitive harm to its researchers and thus would constitute "public harm." Clark subsequently asked the National Institute of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF) and The Journal of Pediatrics to request the University share the study's records.

In July 2009, Clark requested records for the 2004 "Early Television" study, and separately resubmitted his request for the 2007 "Associations" study. Four months later, in November

2009, Clark received two letters of "final response." The first letter stated no University records for the 2004 "Early Television" study could be found. The second letter was accompanied by an incomplete data set that cannot be used to re-analyze the 2007 "Associations" study, a copy of the study's questionnaire, and nothing more.

"If the research results are valid, the University of Washington should have welcomed timely re-analysis of its work," added Clark. "While they are being cited as 'evidence,' the University of Washington has not shared records or any documents that substantiate their claims with anyone interested in re-analyzing the studies."

Baby Einstein was founded in 1996 by Clark and his wife, Julie Aigner Clark. They sold the company to Disney in 2001, and have no financial stake in Baby Einstein or sale of its products. Clark has said his primary motivation in filing the lawsuit is to protect the legacy he and his wife have created.

Copy of the complaint:

www.aignerclark.com/newsroom


    William Clark is represented by:
    --------------------------------
    Rachel Matteo-Boehm                       Greg Overstreet
    Holme, Roberts & Owen LLP                 Allied Law Group
    415-268-1996 office                       360-753-7510 office
    rachel.matteo-boehm@hro.com               greg@alliedlawgroup.com

Data-sharing guidelines for the University of Washington, NIH and NSF:

SOURCE Aigner Clark Creative



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