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Censorship Your Rights Online

YouTube Reposts Anti-Scientology Videos 435

Ian Lamont writes "YouTube has reposted anti-Scientology videos and reinstated suspended YouTube accounts after receiving thousands of apparently bogus DCMA take-down notices. Four thousand notices were sent to YouTube last Thursday and Friday by American Rights Counsel, LLC. After YouTube users responded with counter-notices, many of the videos were reposted. It turns out that the American Rights Counsel had no copyright claim on the videos, and the group may not even exist, although the text of the DCMA notices have been linked to a Wikipedia editor. While filing a false DMCA notice is a criminal offense, prosecution in these cases rarely comes about."
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YouTube Reposts Anti-Scientology Videos

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  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:41AM (#24933541) Journal

    This isn't one count, it's about four thousand counts of fraud. I'm sure that complying with the takedown notices cost Google a non-trivial amount of money, too.


  • Take that Xenu! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Abreu ( 173023 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:41AM (#24933557)

    I'm glad that the YouTube users fought back.
    We really need to make people aware of the criminal actions of this cult.

  • Re:Racial Bigotry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Abreu ( 173023 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:44AM (#24933591)

    I knew they claimed to be a religion, but I wasn't aware that Scientologists now claimed to be a "race"...
    Was this done to claim additional protections?

  • by IP_Troll ( 1097511 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:51AM (#24933701)
    I believe the most fitting punishment would be to revoke all Scientology related copyrights.

    This is an arguable criminal case and a criminal prosecution would be a waste of time. It is going to be near impossible to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.

    It is, however, a clear abuse of rights granted by the copyright law. The fitting punishment is revocation of those rights.

    Please save the nitpicking arguments about if there is such thing as copyright "rights", that is beside the point. If a child can't be trusted with privileges, you take those privileges away.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:52AM (#24933719)

    "While filing a false DMCA notice is a criminal offense, prosecution in these cases rarely comes about."

    Perhaps it ought to carry stiff civil penalties as well? At least then it's not the prosecution's option to pursue the case, but the injured party's. Two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars maximum per bogus takedown notice might do the trick.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:53AM (#24933731)
    As geeks, shouldn't we be more annoyed at the obviously non-scientific "big three" religions? Whatever iluminati/freemason paranoia or real conspiracy exists with scientology, that pales to the anti-gay and other affronts that Christianity brings. Where more than half are Christians, at least it's...different.
  • by megamerican ( 1073936 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:54AM (#24933735)

    Earlier this year radio talk show host Michael Reagan called for the murder of Mark Dice [] live on air. Mark Dice uploaded a 3 minute clip of the death threat to youtube. Reagan's lawyers filed a DMCA claim on the clip [], youtube took down Mark Dice's entire channel which had a lot of original content and over a million views. Dice tried to counter claim but youtube did NOT reinstate his channel. Dice had to make a new channel and upload his content back.

    The FBI or police would not charge Reagan for his death threats and Reagan is still on the air.

  • by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:54AM (#24933745)

    I can't think of a nicer group of people to sue.

    Actually, it would be "prosecute", not sue, as this is a criminal offense, and requires a criminal prosecution.

    All nitpicking aside though, I agree. It sounds like the crazy Scientologists are at it again, and SOMEONE needs to take those crazies down a few notches.

  • Google Should Sue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:57AM (#24933789)
    Given the amount of resources (time) that Google's lost in dealing with these (4000!) bogus DMCA notices, I think Google should file a lawsuit against the offending party. Obviously, I'd love to see the people who posted the videos start a class-action suit as well, but I think Google having to deal with the paperwork, remove the videos, deal with the counter-claim paperwork, and repost the videos represents a significant loss of time and thus money, all because someone is abusing the DMCA. Were I Google's lawyers, I'd use this situation as a perfect chance to deliver a message to all copyright holders - get it right or deal with OUR lawsuit.
  • by initdeep ( 1073290 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:58AM (#24933793)

    revoking the copyrights would be moronic.

    if that's all it took, then people would start posting fake notices (ie committing fraud) for the groups they OPPOSE, thus preventing the legitimate copyright holder from keeping their copyright.

    punish the criminal.
    in this case that is whoever sent the notices.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:01PM (#24933833)

    While filing a false DMCA notice is a criminal offense, prosecution in these cases rarely comes about."

    Anyone should be able to bring evidence to a judge, and bring charges against someone in a felony or serious misdemeanor case. If someone shuts down your YouTube account via false DMCA notices, and a US Attorney won't take it, you should be able to hire your own prosecutor to press charges against the individual.

    You know one major reason why this would be hard as hell to get passed? Because if it were passed it would not only pressure legislatures to write better, more consistent legal codes, but it would allow for pesky things like drug cops in cases like Kathryn Johnston's shooting death to be tried for manslaughter, perjury in securing the warrant and criminal negligence leading to injury or death.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:03PM (#24933855)

    Since there was never any hope of these takedowns succeeding for more than a day or two, isn't it likely that the DMCA notices were issued by an anti-scientology protestor to make scientology look even worse than it does already?

    Much as I dislike scientology, it would be unjust to punish them for this without any evidence.

  • Re:Of course. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:08PM (#24933921)

    What is evil here is the law. Imagine an anonymous poster, somewhere on the front lines of a war, exposing some monumental lie or an atrocity by filming it and posting on YouTube. The government or any other entity who wishes for the public to remain ignorant simply issues a DMCA take-down notice. YouTube complies instantly and uncritically. The anonymous whistle-blower will not reveal himself to issue a "counter-notice" because doing so exposes him/her to being "taken down" himself, via a bullet to the head "friendly fire" incident or being found out an "enemy combatant" and disappeared for life into torture in some dark and secret dungeon.

    That is why, as I keep pointing out, the so-called "intellectual property" has the ultimate effect of creating a totalitarian society. It happens via a deadly mix of the fundamental scientific illogic of the concept of "intellectual property" being exposed by progress of technology and the resulting ever more draconian attempts to reverse the effects of such progress by those whose profits depend on keeping the populace on a chain. That impacts the society so because totalitarian control of information (as is the only logical outcome of "intellectual property") must also lead to a totalitarian society as a whole.

  • by Monkeyman334 ( 205694 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:13PM (#24933997)

    It's not a matter of how bad the violation of law is. It has to matter to the prosecutor and also to a potential jury (called "jury interest"). Nobody will prosecute the case if the only impact was $20,000 of Google's money spent on handling the notices.

    My suggestion would be to temporarially take down the requestor's videos if they submit a false takedown request. It wouldn't cover small businesses, but it would cover the Viacoms and the CoS.

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:15PM (#24934023)

    As geeks, shouldn't we be more annoyed at the obviously non-scientific "big three" religions?

    • Despite the name, "Scientology" is no more scientific than Christianity. It is more sci-fi, but that's not the same thing.
    • At the moment, mainstream Christianity isn't trying to suppress non-Christian free speech ("ID" dumbasses notwithstanding).
    • At the moment, Christianity isn't run for profit (Roman Catholic church notwithstanding).
  • by LithiumX ( 717017 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:15PM (#24934027)

    They are honestly going to let Scientology get away with this bollocks? Wow. That sucks. It'd be funny to finally see themselves sucker punch their own faces by trying.

    Now I'm left wondering if it was even them that sent them out in the first place.

    Does anyone know anything about the "group" that sent them, and is there anything that actually ties it to them?

    For all the reasons they'd have to do it, there's also a lot of people who'd like to embarrass that group by acting in their name.

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:20PM (#24934075) Journal

    You did know that "Top Scientologists" and the church are facing fraud charges? []

    Unfortunately they are being charged in France, I don't know if they are in the country or if they will have to be extradited. If so, I don't know if the U.S. will agree. After all, they could claim "religious" persecution.

  • Re:Racial Bigotry (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:25PM (#24934131) Homepage

    Sadly, I had spoken with my wife in passing about Scientology a few times and she zoned out whenever I got into the whole Xenu/Thetan thing. I guess she thought it was some bad sci-fi story I had read. Then I showed her the South Park episode and told her that (animation aside) what was presented during that segment is actually what Scientologists believe. Now she's right along with me in ridiculing the "religion." It is really telling when South Park doesn't need to alter anything at all to make fun of a religion's story.

  • by mapsjanhere ( 1130359 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:29PM (#24934189)
    4000 counts of perjury times 5 years max - that's an impressive potential sentence.
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:33PM (#24934237) Homepage Journal

    While calling for this guys death is over the top and uncalled for, Mark Dice is a to be kind not the nicest of people.
    And I am a go to church every Sunday kind of guy. He is way far to the right by my standards.

      "Dice founded an organization,[1] variously called The Resistance,[2] The Christian Resistance or The Resistance for Christ, which espouses fundamentalist Christianity and professes conspiratorial beliefs about the Roman Catholic Church,[3] the Illuminati, freemasons, Skull and Bones, Bohemian Grove, the 9/11 attacks and Satanism, and which has been reported to "flood the airwaves of call-in radio and television shows"[4] to promote them. His 450 page book, The Resistance Manifesto details these beliefs.

    Dice's activities have been covered by national media outlets. His focus is primarily on political activism, culture jamming, boycotts, and pop culture criticism.

    He has called for the Georgia Guidestones to be removed from public property,[4][5] protested a Jessica Simpson music video,[1] called for a boycott of the VeriChip,[1][6] called for Duke University to change the name of its sports team (the Blue Devils),[7] called for rapper 50 Cent to stop wearing a cross,[8] and claimed that Scientology is a satanic cult.[9]

    He recently launched a boycott against Starbucks, calling the company "Slutbucks", after featuring a logo of a topless mermaid-type figure.[10][11] He also endorsed Ron Paul's candidacy for president in 2008.

    Dice is featured in Alex Jones' film The 9/11 Chronicles, which documents the activities of the 9/11 truth movement."

  • Re:Of course. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:42PM (#24934347)

    thing is it's fairly common for takedown notices to be sent by people who don't own the rights. It's basicly the quickest way to get something critical of you taken down (for a time at least) since you can send it in the name of "The imaginary society of america".

    If I owned a company or ran an organisation and wanted to get something I didn't like pulled it'd be the first thing I'd do, send takedown notices anonymously.

    I'm not advocating that this be done. In other words, I am not urging anyone to do anything illegal. That would be stupid -- don't do it. But, I thought of something that would be a very interesting thing to watch, in the event that it ever happens.

    Imagine if false DMCA-style takedown notices are used to remove both Barack Obama's and John McCain's campaign advertisements, on television, radio, and the Internet. There's nothing quite like experiencing an abuse of it firsthand to convince a politician that perhaps a law was a bad idea.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:43PM (#24934349) Journal
    A DMCA take-down notice contains a sword statement that you are acting on behalf of the copyright owner. This means that it would be perjury to file a fake take-down notice, and also means that there's a strict audit trail pointing back to whoever authorised the take-down.
  • by HadouKen24 ( 989446 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:44PM (#24934369)
    IANAL, but I would think that's not allowed under the DMCA. To retain "safe harbor" protection, they have to comply with all DMCA takedown notices. The onus is on the users whose material is taken down to submit counter-claims.

    Unfortunately, those who submit counter-claims must do so under penalty of perjury. There is no perjury threat for submitting the original claim.
  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:49PM (#24934437) Journal

    Does anyone know anything about the "group" that sent them, and is there anything that actually ties it to them?

    Notice the name: American Rights Counsel. Have you heard of Scientology's "ARC Triangle"? If not, Google it. I won't pretend that this is proof, but it sure is an interesting fluke event.

  • by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @01:04PM (#24934601)

    There is no perjury threat for submitting the original claim.

    Yes, there is, though AFAIK, no one has ever been prosecuted for it.

  • But it looks bad on his rap sheet to the scientologists embedded in public sphere who are needed to help him get into that office.

  • Re:Racial Bigotry (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xstonedogx ( 814876 ) <> on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @01:24PM (#24934827)

    Let me fix that for you:

    Except now that the Catholic Church is no longer the most powerful organization in the world, does not have a monopoly on Christianity, and still has lots and lots of money, you don't actually have to give the Catholic Church anything and they won't even threaten you with eternal damnation. Tithing is not required, indulgences are a thing of the past.

    The Catholic Church enjoyed a monopoly on Christianity in part because it was damn expensive to reproduce books and most people couldn't read latin even if they had a copy. This gave them control over everyone who didn't want to go to hell. And they made damn sure everyone didn't want to go to hell.

    The Church of Scientology doesn't have that luxury. Most people are literate, the information is in the common language (actually, I'm guessing more than one), and books are cheap to reproduce. So they have to use legal means to establish their monopoly. But they are using the same basic formula as the Catholic Church to control members and gain money.

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @01:27PM (#24934903)

    You can be subject to perjury charges if you submit a claim and you do not have authority to represent the party you name as claimant. You are *not* subject to perjury charges if you submit a claim and it turns out that the claimant does not have a valid copyright claim against the content. The law was very carefully worded that way.

  • Re:What's really sad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:04PM (#24935327) Homepage

    Actually, it wasn't that she believed it because she saw it on TV (actually, Comedy Central's South Park website ). She's too intelligent for that. Her first response upon seeing the clip was: "This isn't real, is it?"

    The real reason that South Park succeeded where I failed was that South Park laid out the Scientology beliefs in an easily understandable fashion. I couldn't seem to do that. So while it sounded like some stupid sci-fi story coming from me, she was able to easily understand the point that the South Park episode was making and use the information they presented to understand Scientology's creation story.

  • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:12PM (#24935429)

    A 'prankster' bothered to search out and send notices for 4000 videos? He'd have to be pretty dedicated to his prank.

    No, I think it's much more likely that it was a scientologist that did it. Slightly less likely is that it's a scientology hater trying to make them look bad. (As if they can't handle that on their own.)

  • Re:Racial Bigotry (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:16PM (#24935475)

    "The bill to ban circumcision "

    Thats pretty shortsighted and narrow minded of you. There are many medical reasons for circumcision. I had a circumcision to correct phimosis at 25 after having years of bad, painful sex and not knowing what was wrong. Yes, I have lost feeling in the tip and upper shaft of my penis but being able to have sex for hours with no pain (as opposed to minutes) is quite worth it!

    Many people are only now realizing that they have this condition, as their ancestors were all circumcised and thus did not suffer from the genetic disadvantage of an irretractable foreskin.

    You should be careful what bans you go around advocating. Ban is quite a strong word.

  • Re:Google Should Sue (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:27PM (#24935635) Journal

    Which was quite annoying. Google video had a much better interface at the time, and the videos seemed less crappy (encoding-wise...). I'm certain they would've overtaken youtube as "what youtube ought-to have been" if google had given it half a chance.

  • by swilver ( 617741 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:54PM (#24935915)
    One wonders what Youtube would do when a non-American citizen sends out a few DMCA notices... this just seems way to easy.
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @06:04PM (#24938401) Homepage

    This may be largely true, but at the VERY least, a DMCA take-down notice needs to be verified in terms of origin. Actual ownership of a copyright or representation of a copyright owner is another matter, but at the very least, allowing what amounts to an anonymous (that is to say unidentifiable) complaint to be accepted is simply inappropriate. All DMCA notices should at the very least be required to be notarized so that the person who issued the claim could be identified for future legal reference.

    The clear and obvious problem with DMCA take-down notices is that using the tricks deployed in these cases, the notices are effectively anonymous. This simply cannot be allowed.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!