Copyright As Censorship: Gun Rights Advocate Gets Video Taken Down With Bogus Copyright Claim

from the why-does-this-keep-happening? dept

I still laugh when I remember a copyright maximalist think tanker insisting that copyright could never be used for censorship, because “copyright holders are champions of the First Amendment” and “have no reason to censor anything.” Of course, for years, we’ve documented over and over and over again how copyright is regularly used as a tool for censorship. And now we’ve got another example. And however you feel about the 2nd amendment or gun advocacy, hopefully you can agree that it’s a problem for the 1st amendment when someone — no matter what their political viewpoints — abuses false copyright claims to take down videos they dislike.

Last week, a Twitter user posted a short 13 second video of Kaitlin Bennett, a sort of social media troll play acting as a gun rights activist/journalist (who has been reasonably criticized for questionable journalism practices), who does outrageous stunts to get more attention. In the video, Bennett first insults a woman’s weight, which makes the woman reasonably angry at Bennett. Bennett responds by implying to the woman that she has a gun, and when the woman starts to calm down, Bennett suggests that her carrying a weapon was what “deterred” further escalation.

No matter what you think of the video, the user who had posted it (who was critical of Bennett) soon was informed by Twitter that a DMCA takedown notice was filed against the video, which Twitter removed:

While Twitter did eventually re-enable the video, it does show yet another example of how copyright can and is used to try to take down non-infringing works. This is why we keep raising concerns about further expansions of copyright’s power to censor. When you provide any tool that enables quick censorship, it will be used for such purposes. Even if Twitter eventually relented and put the video back up, the initial suppression of speech, by use of a legal tool, is still suppression of speech.

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Comments on “Copyright As Censorship: Gun Rights Advocate Gets Video Taken Down With Bogus Copyright Claim”

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29 Comments
Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re:

" I don?t care if the person being censored is a damned White supremacist; they don?t deserve to have their speech silenced by way of a bullshit copyright claim."

It would be ironic if the copyright trolls managed to stir up the NRA over the issue.

I’m torn. On the one hand few things would kill copyright law faster than having the NRA include it as part of their crusade against stifling gun propaganda, on the other hand it seems very, VERY wrong somehow…

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: I'm not worried about these incidents

Except that isn’t happening.

If it were, it would still 1) not be censorship, and 2) within their rights to do so.

Funny how when the right-ish side controlled most media and corporations, there wasn’t a problem. Now, if you are even center, or just not extreme-right enough, you are a leftist suppressing the poor oppressed right. Even when it isn’t happening.

If you mean people who are racist, sexist, and advocate violence, yeah, they tend to get moderated. Sorry if that is your "unpopular political view".

People all over the spectrum get moderated for shit, sometimes sensibly, and sometimes incorrectly. "X censors the right" is just another "War on Christmas". Bunch of whiny, spoilt snowflakes.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I'm not worried about these incidents

Wow you really know nothing of software if you think this would even be possible and remotely reliable. For one if there was meddling it would be inevitable for that two different similarly neutral search strings (not inherently shibbolethed phrases like say pro-life vs anti-abortion) would give "unfiltered" results. Despite the zombie lies of every last offended entitled delusional whiner there hasn’t been a single case presented in even an utterly unreliable format.

Even if Google really worked how the outright tech illiterate thought with an army of "tech workers" preparing every result manually said massive bueracracy would be damn unreliable. Hell even if the search engine was secretly a fully sapient AI with all of its indexing capabilities and ability to comprehend everything it presents it would be doubtful that their agenda could be communicated to it adequately to even carry it out over the massive search space and semantic possibilities.

bhull242says:

Re: Re: Re: Re: When Gun Nuts Go On About How They Revere The ?Constit

Inherently? None. But that?s not what Lawrence is talking about. The issue is that a lot of gun rights activists say that they are trying to protect the Constitution, but that zeal to protect the Constitution only really comes into play when dealing with the Second Amendment. When it comes to protecting other aspects of the Constitution (Congressional approval for war, due process for anything other than guns, free speech (except when in favor of guns), voting rights, freedom of the press, equal treatment of religions, the Fourth and FIfth Amendments in general, right to privacy, separation of powers, etc.), they are far less vocally in favor of the Constitution.

Basically, they are only really interested in protecting one right in the Constitution; they don?t actually care about the Constitution as a whole. This is not to say that support for the Second Amendment is inherently inconsistent with support for any other part of the Constitution. It?s that the level of support of other parts of the Constitution are very lacking in comparison when in comes to many gun-rights activists, and it?s that inconsistency that?s being noted.

Rico R.says:

Is it okay to send a DMCA takedown? By a copyright abolitionist

  1. Does the content in question actually contain copyrighted content that you own the rights to?
    IF YES: Continue to next question.
    IF NO: Do not file a DMCA takedown notice. Stop.
  2. Does the uploader have a valid fair use case with regards to the copyrighted content?
    IF YES: Do not file a DMCA takedown notice. Stop.
    IF NO: Continue to the next question.
  3. Are you a complete jerk?
    IF YES: Reassess your life priorities, and once you?ve done that, go back to question #1.
    IF NO: Do not file a DMCA takedown notice. Stop.

TL;DR: Do not file a DMCA takedown notice UNLESS you want to be seen as a complete jerk.

Rico R.says:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it okay to send a DMCA takedown? By a copyright aboli

You realize the same flowchart applies equally well to reporting a rape or mugging (with some minor edits), right?

There is a profound difference between rape and mugging (a clearly immoral and violent act that puts people in danger) than illegally uploading copyrighted content (technically illegal, but at most the only thing hurt is the copyright holder’s bottom line). Furthermore, while anyone with knowledge at hand (and not just the victim) can report a mugger to the police, only the copyright holder has the legal authority to issue a DMCA takedown notice.

Plus, there are volumes of stories where the DMCA was abused (The H3H3 case, Oh the Places You’ll Boldly Go, Lenz’s dancing baby video, etc.). Yet, while there are a plethora of recourses for law enforcement to take against someone who files a false complaint, there is little to no recourse to those who file false DMCA takedown notices (ironically, in large part thanks to the Lenz case).


That being said, I have since come to regret making the original comment. I made it in rushed, bad taste, and I would have deleted it within hours of making it if there was an option. I don’t mean to paint anyone and everyone who has ever sent a DMCA takedown notice as a "complete jerk", yet in countless cases (like in the original story above), filing a DMCA takedown notice is a very jerky way of going about criticism. So I’m sorry if I offended anyone, and regardless of my own personal views on the subject, consider this my retraction of the original comment above.

bhull242says:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it okay to send a DMCA takedown? By a copyright aboli

Well, there is a difference in that the content gets taken down immediately, often without any regard to the merits, in response to a DMCA takedown, and the government has no direct involvement in that even though a DMCA notice is technically a legal document. By contrast, reporting a rape or mugging will mean that the accusation would have to be investigated, and then the accused will get due process in court.

I still agree that sending a DMCA notice isn?t necessarily a case of being a jerk, but it isn?t comparable to reporting someone for an illegal act.

Wendy Cockcroftsays:

Re: Re: Is it okay to send a DMCA takedown? By a copyright abolition

  1. Does the uploader pretend the work is his own and make money from it?
    IF YES: file that DMCA notice.
    IF NO: Do not file a DMCA takedown notice. Stop.

I don’t like copyright and am skeptical of the DMCA regime, but when some cheeky toerag did that to one of my favourite artists, Preston Reed, I was outraged. What he did was bundle three of Preston’s works together and pretend it was his own; he didn’t credit Preston and was earning ad revenue. Preston makes his work available on YouTube and doesn’t mind people using it, but this was cheeky. The artist has the right to be associated with his work.

Long story short, I advised his wife to file the notice and to get her friends to gang up on the uploader in the comments, asking him politely but firmly to take the video down if he wasn’t going to acknowledge Preston, as he had stated that the piece was his own work. He took it down before the wife could get the notice done.

tl:dr; if someone is using your work and pretending it’s their own, then tries to make money from it, dogpile on and DMCA that twerp! Preston is happy when people post videos of themselves playing his music, he only asks that they reference the fact that it’s his work. It’s not too much to ask.

When using someone else’s work for advertising my business (when I had one) I asked first; it won me a lot of friends, including the very skeptical Mrs. Reed, who distrusted me on principle because I advocate against copyright overreach. It doesn’t hurt to be courteous, folks.

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