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Censorship

4,000 Anti-Scientology Videos Yanked From YouTube 658

Posted by timothy
from the y'just-don't-get-it-do-ya? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "From the EFF webpage: 'Over a period of twelve hours, between this Thursday night and Friday morning, American Rights Counsel LLC sent out over 4000 DMCA takedown notices to YouTube, all making copyright infringement claims against videos with content critical of the Church of Scientology.'"
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4,000 Anti-Scientology Videos Yanked From YouTube

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  • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday September 08, 2008 @07:49AM (#24917943) Journal

    That is a damned good question. A quick search on Google will show that we've been here before. www.xenu.net Had no end of trouble with this. I think that if they attempt to link all anonymous videos as being from one source it will be MORE than interesting.

    FTFA:

    YouTube users responded with DMCA counter-notices. At this time, many of the suspended channels have been reinstated and many of the videos are back up. Whether or not American Rights Counsel, LLC represents the notoriously litigious Church of Scientology is unclear, but this would not be the first time that the Church of Scientology has used the DMCA to silence Scientology critics. The Church of Scientology DMCA complaints shut down the YouTube channel of critic Mark Bunker in June, 2008. Bunkerâ(TM)s account, XenuTV, was also among the channels shut down in this latest flurry of takedown notices.

    It sounds like Google did what is required of them by law, becoming just the bullets used by both sides to fire at each other in a war that I hope ends up in court. Flagrant misuse of DMCA takedown notices should be punished. CoS is proving once again just exactly why it is they deserve legal status as a church. You know, one of those organizations of compassion and love. hmmmm, then again Tammy Fae Baker wasn't too happy with some of the public comments about her either.

    It's kind of a shame there is no particular way to make CoS leaders 'fair game' though I'd like to see someone find a way in court to fair game them there.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:00AM (#24918041)

    a DMCA notice is a sworn statement. If the information is false then potentially it could be regarded as perjury.

    I'm curious. Has this ever actually happened with a single one of the vast number of DMCA notices ever issued?

  • by dattaway (3088) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:01AM (#24918049) Homepage Journal

    Money is required to fight injustice. Most people aren't willing to retain a lawyer over something that isn't feeding their families.

  • by BitterOldGUy (1330491) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:02AM (#24918063)

    I assume you would have to file charges at a police station in their local area. Then, you'd probably have to get the DA there to actually press the case. Finally, you'd have to have a judge willing to apply pretty harsh sentencing.

    They won't do anything when someone steals your identity, breaks into your car, and, well, any other non-violent crime. What makes you guys think that the cops will go after these guys who haven't really done anything?

  • by ArtemaOne (1300025) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:11AM (#24918151)
    I did notice the giant shield that Scientologists are using. Did you notice the LLC tag?
  • by torstenvl (769732) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:12AM (#24918163)
    18 USC 1001 for the win!
  • by smchris (464899) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:13AM (#24918167)

    We think Disney is bad? Imagine if the bible were copyrighted. It'd run the eternal life of the author plus 75 years. But with a religion so blatantly a business like scientology, what will copyright be like _next_ century?

  • by ari_j (90255) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:15AM (#24918189)
    "Principle" and "sorry" are the two most expensive words in the law. Arguably, in that order. That said, 4,000 videos may mean enough plaintiffs for a class action, which could have some hope of compensating a lawyer for fighting this on principle whereas the 4,000 individuals couldn't afford it on an individual basis. The EFF has also filed lawsuits over DMCA abuses in the past, so at least be sure that someone over there has a way to get in touch with the people adversely affected by this one.
  • by rtb61 (674572) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:18AM (#24918217) Homepage

    Youtube is a commercial company operating in what is becoming a more and more competitive environment, there are a huge number of video hosting sites, a lot of them operating outside of the US. In this case should youtube prove that it actually really does endeavour to adhere to the law by pursuing CoS for vindictively targeting them, when similar DMCA notices were not handed out to every other video hosting sites containing the same videos.

    This unfairly targets youtube and damages their business as well as causing them significant cost in evaluating each of the DMCA notices, notifying users of the claimed infringement, altering the content of the hosting services, evaluating the counter notices and then having to reinstate the content, whilst the competitors suffered no comparable harm. The Corporation of Scientology seems to love picking on youtube and this peculiar focus is really starting to make it appear like the are some anti free speech, privacy invasive, scientologists insurgents skulking amongst the googlites, the cult of google might unfortunately be less of a joke than it should be.

    Personally I prefer http://www.dailymotion.com/relevance/search/scientology [dailymotion.com], now where exactly is that hosted again, something tells the DMCA takedown notices coming out of the US are going to have no affect with that host.

  • Re:It's Simple (Score:2, Interesting)

    by arbiter1 (1204146) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:20AM (#24918237)
    ha why would they make video's that rip on their own religion? kinda like a devout Catholic saying they don't believe in jesus.
  • Re:Why? Exactly. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dosius (230542) <bridget@buric.co> on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:23AM (#24918253) Journal

    They have an explicit doctrine of destroying critics through the legal system. They also believe that if a person is deemed "Suppressive" to the cause of Scientology, they have the right to lie, deceive, or even kill the person with impunity.

    -uso.

  • by Entrope (68843) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:25AM (#24918269) Homepage

    The perjury statement for the take-down notice requires a statement "that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed". As I read it, that requires that the notice contain some other allegation that an exclusive right is infringed, and that the work and the exclusive right be identified accurately. If the notice does not accurately identify a work (and right) that the complainer is authorized to act on, the complainer might have answer for perjury.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:25AM (#24918273)

    videos' submitters now to file counternotices

    Do the lawyers from the CoS get the info from those counter-notices, and do said notices contain personal info on the YouTube users?

    If so, this may be an elaborate ruse to get 4,000 names of the "enemies" of the so called church....

    *Edit* OMG, the captcha is "Canonic"...wtf?!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:28AM (#24918295)

    http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=59826

    Read the procedure for filing a counter-notice. You have to include your personal information, which YouTube then forwards to original claimant. The CoS has just compiled a list of 4,000 names and addresses of people who are critical of it.

  • by Twyst3d (1359973) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:31AM (#24918313)
    Yay! I was wondering when Scientology was going to wield a big wad of cash to make this go away. Good for them, they are only proving the videos have information they do not want seen. I just hope the Anonymous movement against the church of Scientology can use this to pick up some momentum.
  • by Vertana (1094987) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:33AM (#24918329) Homepage

    How is this not a blatant abuse of the system in order to silence free speech? By this logic, it is perfectly within the legal rights of Google to shut down websites which oppose their ideals and corporation. Nice try Scientology... but ultimately an epic fail. Good job jacking up the PR (again).

  • by aunticrist (952359) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:36AM (#24918349)
    You've not seen what the Church of $cientology can do in a court room lately, have you? They have so many judges in their pockets that they are able to do crap like this and never see the inside of a court room.
  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nursie (632944) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:51AM (#24918459)

    Ooh, let's see...

    There's the fact they separate their adherents from their families and then extract money from them.

    There's the whole forced labour, separation from family and cruel punishment of children in their care [exscientologykids.com] thing (particularly look up Jenna Miscavige-Hill, neice of the current head of the CoS)

    Umm, there's the fact that people have died in their care whilst being locked up and denied medical care [whyaretheydead.net]

    There's the fact that they have managed to get some state and national backing for their joke of a rehab scheme [wikipedia.org]. Which, by the way, they claim is the most successful rehab scheme on the planet (without providing figures or evidence), whereas in fact its techniques basically involve a lot of the same psychological breakdown and cod science as scientology itself. This is sick, IMHO.

    There's a lot of other stuff.

    This is NOT about freedom of religion, or who believes what. This is about a dangerous organisation that have comitted felonies to try and wipe their record from government agencies [wikipedia.org] and generally display a lack of respect for laws and lives, and yet is still in many coutries treated as a tax-exempt, legitimate religion.

    Believe what the fuck you like, but you can't support the continued existance of the church of scientology.

  • by Cookie3 (82257) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:59AM (#24918541) Homepage

    Consider the possibility that the main aim of CoS was not simply to remove those videos, but to gather information about the people who posted them. Google DMCA Counterclaim information: http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=59826 [google.com]

    2. Provide your full name, address, telephone number, and email address, and the username of your YouTube account. ...

    What happens next?

    After we receive your counter-notification, we will forward it to the party who submitted the original claim of copyright infringement. Please note that when we forward the counter-notification, it includes your personal information. By submitting a counter-notification, you consent to having your information revealed in this way.

    CoS files false takedowns, Anonymous critics file counter-claims, CoS gets all of their personal information.

    And yes, they do collect personal information and do exploit it to threaten and silence their critics. See, for example, the case of G. Allen. Allen was a regular guy who stopped by to look at the Anonymous protesters in February, with no real interest in the group, and then received a threatening letter from CoS because they ran his license plates and dug up his information to harass him.. and harass him they did. http://blackfish.biz/allen/?p=246 [blackfish.biz]

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday September 08, 2008 @09:03AM (#24918583) Journal
    Note that this doesn't invalidate the notice. Fair use in the USA is an affirmative defence. It doesn't say that copyright infringement hasn't taken place, it says that infringement has taken place but that society has decided to permit this specific case. This rather nasty bit of law means that you can file a DMCA notice against something which falls under fair use without committing perjury, but when you receive a counter notice and then take the original recipient to court you will probably lose.
  • by yuna49 (905461) on Monday September 08, 2008 @09:17AM (#24918717)

    So it's not really a fine line for YouTube to walk. They just do what they are legally required to, and anyone who doesn't like that and complains about YouTube is barking up the wrong tree - they should work to get the law changed instead.

    I, for one, wouldn't want to see the law changed so that it would make ISPs like YouTube more responsible for copyright infringment than they are now. The only changes that might make the law more palatable would be penalities for abuse of the process as others have already mentioned. Applying the perjury standard in an even-handed way would be a good start.

    I agree with you that the way issue gets framed here on Slashdot often makes it sound like YouTube or other ISPs are somehow intentionally stepping on the rights of uploaders. There are lots of things to dislike about the DMCA, but the take-down provisions are not high on my list. I've seen people complain here that their material was removed and act like they have no recourse. Not only do you have recourse, you don't even really need an attorney to protest a take-down notice.

  • by jonfr (888673) on Monday September 08, 2008 @09:22AM (#24918773) Homepage

    In short, they are terrorist.

    Church of Scientology is a terrorist group. They can be called that correctly. They terrorize people, make threats and even silence people.

    This is not the first time that CoS has done this. But it is a time for the U.S government to arrest the top of CoS and ban the cult. They are dangerous and have been for a long time.

    CoS is also structured like a military organization, they have troops, generals and so on. I guess that they have the weapons too.

    I guess that CoS troops (plenty on Slashdot already) with mod points will rate this as a flame bait.

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Monday September 08, 2008 @09:39AM (#24918997)

    I imagine the extra load brought by actually prosecuting perjury cases would be not insubstantial. This would be a reason not to resort to criminal prosecution.

    That doesn't stop them from jailing all the pot smokers...

  • Re:I wonder... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Spie (206914) on Monday September 08, 2008 @10:26AM (#24919577) Homepage

    Some of the videos that were taken down were broadcasts of news stories.

    One of the main targets for Scientology during the takedown was an expose done on the Australian news-magazine program Today Tonight a few months ago on Scientology's use of child labor. This was targeted because Anonymous' protest theme this month focuses on children, and the Today Tonight story was being prominently used in Anon promotional material for this protest.

    In fact, it was this video that was taken down from my honeypot account that I used to file a DMCA counter-claim.

  • by The Spie (206914) on Monday September 08, 2008 @10:31AM (#24919657) Homepage

    Do the anti-Scientology posters to youtube have to reveal information about themselves to Scientology Inc. through their counter-notices? Isn't this just a way for Scientology to get the identities of the posters?

    Technically, they have to reveal their identities to YouTube, which has to forward them to the complaintant. This is why takedown notices were only done by people whose identities were already public (as I said in another thread above, I'm one of them). Fortunately, it was enough to get the videos reinstated, but it did cause Anonymous some problems at first.

  • by The Spie (206914) on Monday September 08, 2008 @10:37AM (#24919745) Homepage

    If that's true, then it would seem the perjury bit actually has merit...

    I wonder if we can talk anyone into going after the claimants?

    You would have to find them first. Whoever did this, whether it was Oliver Schaper or Scientology's Office of Special Affairs, used sockpuppet companies that don't exist (seriously, when this started, we checked, first using Google and then using state corporate record databases). How do you sue someeone who doesn't exist?

  • I think that the sanest alternative, given the separation of church and state and that the church does not pay taxes, is that materials published by any non-profit or charitable organization should not be copyrightable.

  • by mxs (42717) on Monday September 08, 2008 @10:53AM (#24919975)

    Yeah, but who is going to do the slapping? There won't be proper plaintiffs ready to do battle over youtube videos, unless someone somehow gets them together to form a class-action lawsuit. Unlikely.

    Yes, and that is PRECISELY why the DMCA is a bad, bad idea, has always been a bad, bad idea, and will always be a bad, bad idea. Of course, it's a paid-for bad, bad idea, so the politicians are happy.

    It's also somewhat interesting that the youtube venue provides no opportunity for the exercise of DMCA counter-notices,

    Where did you read that ?

    It does.

    which are an important part of the law. Perhaps it's time to move controversial videos to a site that will have a bit more of a backbone and not allow the powerful to walk all over those who don't even get the rights they're entitled to by law. (I wonder if youtube has any criteria at all for evaluating the validity of these notices before it complies.)

    That's the kicker of the DMCA. YouTube is not SUPPOSED to check anything beyond the formal specifications. They are not lawyers. They do not give legal advice. It is not their content. They should not be the ones determining whether something is ok or not -- and indeed they really can't.

    On the other hand, unscrupulous web hosts (such as NetSol, for one) have and will continue to ignore their legal obligation to maintain service after proper counter-notice is given

    They have no such obligation. They can simply terminate your account or take one-sided "administrative" measures. Since your NetSol account is not a right, you have none to it. You could argue breach of contract, but I'd advise you to read your contract again -- in all likelihood, it allows NetSol to terminate your account for any and all reasons, if they so choose.

    - despite the fact that the law is very clear that doing so can open up statutory liability on their part.

    Where ?

    When a company perceives a power-imbalance they're likely to side with the one they perceive to be more powerful, regardless of what the law says or the truth of the claims involved.

    Correct. Big bully with expensive lawyers > little guy with website. It is a different story if the little guy is a big website with scary lawyers, too. Slashdot, for instance.

    I suppose the Internet needs a video site like Wikileaks serious about free speech enough not to cave into threats. Otherwise, not only are opposing voices stifled, but powerful interests like Scientology may be emboldened to go after and seek the removal of criticism in other forms of online media across the Internet.

    Wake up.

    Scientology has been trying to silence all their critics for decades, often by less than legal means.

    We are their enemy. Therefore, any and all treatment of us is deemed acceptable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2008 @11:07AM (#24920135)

    I studied Scientology when I was a child and Ron Hubbard was still alive. And it WAS NOT a religion, there were many texts (I am sure they disappeared all of them) which explained how you could have your own religion and be a scientologist, plus they were very clear that Scientology was an applied philosophy, never a religion. It was turned a religion to avoid paying taxes. And as a (happy for them) side effect is that now they can continue cheating people on the so-respected credo freedom.

  • by greg_barton (5551) * <greg_barton@@@yahoo...com> on Monday September 08, 2008 @11:25AM (#24920347) Homepage Journal

    The ebst way to fight this is to post videos that praise Scientology.

    "Are you FRIKKIN' crazy?" you ask?

    Nope.

    If Scientology doesn't issue takedown notices for the videos praising them, they eventually lose their copyright power over the material. If they do issue takedown notices they look even more ridiculous.

    And no, I'm not trying to secretly elicit praise for Scientology. There's no reason why you can't throw in a bit or sarcasm in with the honey. :)

  • Why not? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PinkyDead (862370) on Monday September 08, 2008 @11:30AM (#24920407) Journal

    Let me open a can of best worms....

    The original US constitution didn't give monkeys about religion, it had to be added in later. Which points out the fundamental flaw in the 'do not fuck with freedom of religion' argument. There is no natural law that suggests that this should be guaranteed, and I would imagine that these guarantees were enshrined by people with a religious point of view. Since then this right has been abused in attempts to impose religious nonsense on society.

    Now personally I don't have a problem with anyone believing any old nonsense they want to, but when it comes to filling children's heads with this crap and forcing restrictions on one group in society over another, that's another thing.

    (I'm not talking about the freedom of assembly right - if someone has a problem with that let them deal with it).

  • by LithiumX (717017) on Monday September 08, 2008 @11:35AM (#24920469)
    Reading the (reasonable) YouTube rules for countering a takedown, a possible motive arises.

    The material taken down is blatantly non-infringing. Any actual takedown attempt, for takedown sake, would just be minor harassment.

    However... the act of countering a takedown ultimately requires that the video's poster actually identify themselves, for the purpose of further legal discussion/action. Any anonymity is lost at that point.

    That is just a possible motive. It's a damned suggestive one, though.

    The DMCA needs to be overhauled. Badly.
  • by davolfman (1245316) on Monday September 08, 2008 @11:36AM (#24920479)
    In civilized states. In others the potheads go to prison and consume money like water for a few years. Later they come out, discover they can't get a job because of their record, and live off the dole if they can. If they can't they have to steal, or panhandle, or just give up.
  • by Paradise Pete (33184) on Monday September 08, 2008 @12:40PM (#24921229) Journal

    Even better. They don't have any standing in a lawsuit. YouTube screwed up.

    Perhaps the first step is to take down the material. The second is that the claimants are pursued for DMCA violations.

  • by bravo_2_0 (892901) on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:04PM (#24921549)
    Did anyone else get the advertising banner from Scientology at the top of this post? It said to click the link to see a video that told the real truth about Scientology. I tried clickin but it seems my employer has blocked scientology.org - I can't imagine why!

    Considering the past history /. has with them and censorship [slashdot.org] I'm surprised they agree to show their ads or maybe Cowboy Neal is now a member of their "church"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2008 @01:11PM (#24921655)

    according to this news article [ansa.it] (ansa [wikipedia.org] is the major news agency in Italy), Scientology has been put into judgment for fraud (sorry for the rough translation, but I have no knowledge of english legal words).
    google translation (to english) here. [google.com]

    That's a good news for europe

  • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:06PM (#24923483)

    They have to take it down if someone makes a copyright claim. However, if there is a counter claim then they can reinstate it since it has then become a problem for the courts.

    Where does this notion come from?

    They do not *have to* take it down if someone makes a copyright claim. The DMCA says that if you get a takedown notice, and comply with it, you get to enjoy the law's safe harbor protection against civil action. You're not required to comply with a takedown, even a legitimate one, you just open yourself to lawsuits if you don't. Similarly, if you don't comply with the counter-takedown claim, you again open yourself to additional legal action. The DMCA neither requires you to comply with a takedown notice nor with a counter-takedown notice. YouTube doesn't "have to take it down." They chose to take it down based upon claims that in many cases facially constitution perjury.

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday September 08, 2008 @07:36PM (#24927069)
    I commend your efforts, truly I do, but are you not concerned about your personal physical safety? The CoS is notorious for its extra and quasi-legal harassment campaigns up to and including physical violence against their opponents. You are brave indeed to take them on publicly.
  • by The Spie (206914) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:03AM (#24929065) Homepage

    I have to admit that it was a calculated risk. However, I decided that there was nothing they could use against me that I haven't already publicly admitted to. I live in a low-priority area for them (in other words, not in LA or Clearwater, Florida). I felt that I wouldn't be a priority target.

    Revealing my identity was the quid pro quo for getting a large story in the Chicago Tribune (please, don't start in about revealing identities of sources and such; the Trib was trying to protect themselves against litigation by Scientology). That story led to another one in Pioneer Press, for which I was interviewed and photographed, putting a lie to Scientology's blanket statement about Anonymous being "bored college students" (I graduated from college over twenty years ago). It led to Anonymous appearing on Mancow's syndicated radio show, which led to other Anonymous press appearances. Again, calculated risk. The amount of Win for Anonymous exceeded the amount of danger for me.

    It's been a month and a half, and I haven't even received a Cease and Desist letter, much less been beaten up by angry Scientologists. I wouldn't recommend that other Anons do this, but it turned out to be worth it for me.

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