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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 ) <jcr@@@mac...com> 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.


    • 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 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 JustKidding ( 591117 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:35PM (#24934265)

          If they can establish that it actually was someone from the scientology church with authorization to send these notes, Google could refuse to take down any more videos without investigating the claims first. Their takedown notices, if they have merit, would still be honored, but the takedown would be delayed until they get a chance to look into the issue.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by HadouKen24 ( 989446 )
            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 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.

            • by SleepingWaterBear ( 1152169 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @01:10PM (#24934665)

              Actually, companies are only required to comply with valid DMCA notices, for fairly obvious reasons. A company has every right to verify that a notice is valid before taking action. YouTube would have been entirely in its legal rights to ignore the requests it got. It is unfortunate that large internet companies have no interest in defending their users' right to free speech.

            • Remember (Score:5, Informative)

              by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @01:10PM (#24934669)

              there's no such thing as a "rogue $cientologist" - this guy was obviously pulling this stunt with the knowledge/approval of cult leadership and organization.

              It was probably along the lines of something like this [torymagoo.org] - his "auditor" told him this was what he needed to do to "clear" something, so he did it.

              Of course, Wikipedia's completely bombarded by pro-$cientology stooges [wikipedia.org] who try to whitewash whatever they can from articles on the cult. I'm not surprised one of their stooges popped up trying this on Youtube to remove videos by people who expose the cult for what it is.

              • Followup (Score:5, Informative)

                by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @01:18PM (#24934761)

                Remember L. Ron's first rule of dealing with the media - "Never Defend, Always Attack." [xenu.net]

                And of course, any "Suppressive Person" is "Fair Game. [wikipedia.org]" (also here [xenu.net]). Note the following: "May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed."

                From the Wikinews article:

                Wikinews contacted Schaper for exclusive comments. Schaper replied saying that he is a "very strong advocate for the Church of Scientology, the religion of Scientology and a free speech advocate" and "I don't need to go into details but I felt that my family and myself have been direct targets and in an attempt to control the situation, I started to track down and remove online links between me and my religion. This included postings made by HouseSpiderAnon on his videos, who publicly connected the dots and made them available to a larger audience."

                "I requested several times to have my information removed from his videos as I wanted no association with his work but he refused, even after I stated several times that he has the right to protest but that I would like to enforce my right of privacy. He refused and demanded documentation of the attacks, something I refused because it was not my attention to allow more documents to be available online in public hand," added Schaper who also said he has been a victim of identity theft and now has the FBI involved in investigating his claim.

                "Tustin PD [police department] has been on the case and now the FBI is involved as well. Social Security has been notified and we have seen about 200 attempts to use the SSN [social security number] for fake credit cards applications," Schaper told Wikinews.

                Certainly looks like typical lying/"fairgame" $cientology behavior in action, doesn't it? I doubt one thing Schaper said about himself is true - and certainly doubt the idea that the FBI would be "involved" in the lies of a $cientologist. But that never does stop the Cult of $cientology from going about its business.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by digitig ( 1056110 )

                Of course, Wikipedia's completely bombarded by pro-$cientology stooges [wikipedia.org] who try to whitewash whatever they can from articles on the cult. I'm not surprised one of their stooges popped up trying this on Youtube to remove videos by people who expose the cult for what it is.

                Although if you had read the RA (I know, I know) you would have found out that the wikipedia editor is Olaf Schaper and the scientology person is Oliver Schaper. Wikinews seems to find it suspicious that somebody called O. Schaper should be able to get the user name oschaper, and seems confused between wikipedia handles and email addresses (where I would agree that the chances of anybody getting an initial-surname address nowadays is slim unless they own the domain!)

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by Moryath ( 553296 )

                  Look at the Article-For-Deletion pages on the ones "Oschaper" created.

                  Wikipedia itself seems to pretty clearly be unconvinced that "Olaf Schaper" exists - the evidence is that Oliver Schaper used the "Olaf Schaper" lie as a dodge when he was called out for writing articles about his own little scientology-promoting "organizations."

                  I'd say that the chance that an "Olaf Schaper" would happen to create wikipedia articles on not one, but TWO pro-$cientology setups created by "Oliver Schaper", AND would have bee

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by erroneus ( 253617 )

              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 cl

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            They have to do what's in the DMCA, which means taking down everything that has a claim against it. The law itself was written to favor copyright holders and the prevention of potential infringement. I don't agree with it, but it's not up to Google. Heads should be rolling in Congress, but they're not...I think DMCA abuses just aren't something most Americans care about.
        • 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.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by DustyShadow ( 691635 )

          thus preventing the legitimate copyright holder from keeping their copyright.

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

          This is slashdot. Don't you know that around here simply owning a copyright considered a criminal act and illegitimate.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:04PM (#24933863)

      Exactly. It might be economically worth their time for Google to set the precedent that bogus DMCA notices en masse will lead to a lawsuit, so that they can limit the number of staff they'll have to hire to handle requests.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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.

  • 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.

    • Outed? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:43PM (#24934363)
      I wonder if it has occurred to anyone else that this is actually an attempt by the Scientologists to get names and addresses of the people who uploaded the content? Scientology is well known to harass such people, who understandably tend to want to stay anonymous.

      But now, anyone who filed a counter-response to the Take Down is "outed" on documents that Scientology can subpoena.

  • First? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Odin_Tiger ( 585113 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:41AM (#24933561) Journal
    Is there some kind of rule that if it's in a hyperlink, it's spelled 'DCMA', but if it's plain text, it's 'DMCA'? And good on YouTube for reposting the content.
  • Teach them a lesson (Score:5, Informative)

    by gooman ( 709147 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:43AM (#24933587) Journal

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

    Sounds like this would be a good time to start.
    I can't think of a nicer group of people to sue.

    • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NtroP ( 649992 )

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

      Sounds like this would be a good time to start. I can't think of a nicer group of people to sue.

      You *know* that if one of us violated the DMCA we'd be jumped on in a heartbeat. The DMCA is a farce to begin with, but when they only enforce the provisions one-sidedly they are really exposing it for piece of crap, purchased fraud that it is.

  • by S7urm ( 126547 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @11:52AM (#24933725)

    Not just to file fraudulant DMCA notices, but also to do so in the name of a Business that doesn't exist? I'd think someone, somewhere would want to take this opportunity to finally push back and sue for false allegations filed by a fradulant company in the name of an entity that was not part of the original notice. Might make a statement, (especially from YouTube) that we won't simply allow people to negligently file take down notices on material they don't even own the copyright to.

  • 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 [youtube.com] 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 [jonesreport.com], 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 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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Fex303 ( 557896 )

        He also endorsed Ron Paul's candidacy for president in 2008.

        Well, I was on the edge till I read that, but now I know he's nuts.

  • 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 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Yeah, because what the US needs is more power for people to hit each other over the head with lawsuits. It's one thing to be hit with fairly bullshit claims in civil court, in worst case you're out some cash. Now private prosecutors that can land your ass in jail with a criminal record? Even if the charges don't stick, unless they're so bogus you can countersue it's going to cost you a shitload of time and money to defend yourself. Besides prosecutors alone are fairly inept, the next step will of course be

  • by rekoil ( 168689 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:06PM (#24933895)

    They now have the names and addresses of the posters who responsed with DMCA counter-notices, and those individuals are now free to be "fair-gamed".

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      We have a winner. This is most likely the real reason for the mass takedown.

      Mod parent up.

    • How hard would it be to do what the Blues Brothers did, and supply a bogus address to the authorities? If you are swinging against CoS, you probably already know about the fair gaming thing, and may be using a front. It's funny that CoS used a front too. Then you've got two fronts going against eachother, and the authorities just toss the case into a cardboard box to be shredded at some date in the future. The only real victims would be the poor saps who criticise such an organization without realizing

  • 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?

    http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/09/09/france.scientology.trial.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

    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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nursie ( 632944 )

      In some ways it doesn't matter. If the case is put against the church and won then (as per previous rulings about them getting into trouble again) Scientology France could be dissolved.

  • by golodh ( 893453 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:20PM (#24934077)
    This sort of unethical behaviour is well-documented as absolutely typical for the Scientology sect I'm afraid. The term the sect uses to indicate its position vis-a-vis critics or opponents is to call them "fair game". Meaning that they condone, encourage, or initiate thoroughly unethical conduct against them (ranging from slander and defamation, intimidation through harassment in the widest sense of the word to costly nuisance lawsuits).

    See e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) [wikipedia.org], http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology)#Court_cases_involving_.22Fair_Game.22 [wikipedia.org], http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karin_Spaink [wikipedia.org], http://www.xs4all.nl/~kspaink/ [xs4all.nl], http://www.xs4all.nl/~kspaink/cos/idx_coskit.html [xs4all.nl], http://home.snafu.de/tilman/j/general.html [snafu.de]

    See also this quote from Wikipedia:

    In 1994, Vicky Aznaran, who had been the Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center (the Church's central management body), claimed in an affidavit that Because of my position and the reports which regularly crossed my desk, I know that during my entire presidency of RTC "fair game" actions against enemies were daily routine. Apart from the legal tactics described below, the "fair game" activities included break-ins, libel, upsetting the companies of the enemy, espionage, harassment, misuse of confidential communications in the folders of community members and so forth.

    This is one of the good reasons why the sect tends to be viewed with suspicion in Western Europe (the sect is currently defending itself in France against a charge of fraud (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7604311.stm) [bbc.co.uk]). I'm still unclear as to exactly how sect has been able to secure the tax-exempt status of "church" with the US authorities. I have read that it was by successfully harassing the relevant officials, but that's quite hard to prove of course.

  • by King Gabey ( 593144 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @12:52PM (#24934481)
    Funny, I never would have viewed any of those anti-scientology clips if it weren't for these bogus take-down notices...
  • Growing Immunity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @01:15PM (#24934717) Homepage Journal

    Google should be developing a resistance to invalid censorship attempts like these meritless DMCA takedown notices. It should be much harder to trick Google into even temporary suspension. Soon enough, Google should learn that the burden of proof is on the censor, and leave content untouched until the attempting censor proves their case on facts and logic, not screeches and innuendo.

    And Google's lesson should be the model for the rest who have to compete in the environment so influenced by Google in it.

    FWIW, the DMCA should be amended to require takedown notices to first notify the accused infringer, and include the counternotice procedure and framework, before even notifying a 3rd party like Google (or any other independent publisher of other people's content). That reform would go a long way to making the DMCA less a club with which to intimidate without merit, and closer to some kind of protection of "progress in science and the useful arts" that is any copyright action's only legitimate basis.

  • Notarized documents? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Qubit ( 100461 ) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:01PM (#24935301) Homepage Journal

    Now that it looks like this "American Rights Council" doesn't exist, I wonder if Google is going to start to require notarized DMCA take-down notices. Prior to this 4000-long list of notices, Google might not have had the evidence to show that DMCA notices were being abused, but this should provide ample evidence should Google ever get in legal trouble if they only accept notarized DMCA take down notices in the future.

    The benefit for Google is obvious, as is the benefit for all of their users, etc. It's a big enough win to make me wonder if someone didn't just plan this as a way to weed out the chaff that is getting sent to YouTube legal; this event should hopefully send a warning to the RIAA and other groups that shoot from the hip with take-down notices: abuse of the DMCA's provisions will have negative ramifications.

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