We've made the argument before that it's about time we all took a hard look at copyright law and the DMCA, since both are regularly used as censorship tools. There are those that believe that this happens infrequently, but that just simply isn't true. It's used to censor criticism
, to censor other people's original creation
, and to censor negative reviews
. It's a problem and no amount of pretending otherwise is going to wash.
But the problem really gets my blood boiling when the censorship in question is censoring scientific knowledge and criticism. All the more so when the criticism is aimed at a group of people that are quite likely actively putting anyone listening to them seriously in danger. Take, for instance, the story that jameshogg
writes in about, in which well-known scientific debunker Myles Power is having a series of videos he produced debunking a documentary called House of Numbers DMCA'd by the producers of the documentary
In case you can't watch the video, here's the skinny on the situation. House of Numbers is a documentary that essentially makes the claim that HIV and AIDS isn't really, you know, a thing. It's part of a conspiracy theory that's been traveling around for some time that AIDS isn't what doctors say it is, that anti-viral medication doesn't effect whatever the disease actually is, and so on. In other words, it's a big bucket of crazy that, unfortunately, some unsuspecting people take seriously, quite possibly putting themselves in harm's way if they take the message of the film to heart. Myles Power is a scientist who creates videos debunking this kind of thing. He, if I may say so, should be appointment YouTubing if you have any interest in science versus popular myths. He created a series of videos showing both why the claims in House of Numbers are bullshit, as well as the tactics the filmmakers employed in order to pretend people said what they actually hadn't. All of this, of course, falls squarely in the realm of fair use. That didn't stop several people who either produced or were featured in the documentary from filing DMCA claims against him and getting the videos removed.
The first DMCA filed against me was from Liam Scheff who starred in part 5 of my video series. Liam believes that my videos are not protected under fair use because they are not made for educational purposes, but instead for propaganda. Over the last week, Liam has been constantly posting on my Facebook and has called me a retard, a cunt, a little bitch and, of course, a paid shill. Yet at the same time believes that I have been slandering him. What is also bizarre is that even though Liam has made it clear of his intentions to drag me through the courts, at the same time he does not think I am a real person but part of Myles Power inc. Liam later went on to remove his DMCA, but by filing it in the first place he has left himself open to legal action.
As soon as part 5 was restored, it was taken immediately down by Martin Penny and the people at Knowledge Matters, who then decided to file 2 more DMCA takedowns against part 1 and 2. I want to take this time to remind people that there are multiple copies of House of Numbers uploaded to YouTube. If Martin Penny and the people at Knowledge Matters truly thought I was infringing copyright, then why are they not going after people who uploaded the entire movie? It is very clear that these people are trying to silence my criticism. For those who don’t know, Martin Penny is the Executive Producer of House of Numbers and a multimillionaire from Leeds who used to be the CEO of GHD. What’s interesting is that Martin is now a chairman at OHS Ltd – one of the leading health, safety and environmental consultancies who have worked for the NHS.
This is censorship in its purist form, and it's using the law to get away with it. There may be legal repercussions to be had for some of this, but how often do we actually see those attempting to ignore fair use and censor speech get punished? It's all the more egregious given that what they're attempting to censor is the debunking of a conspiracy myth that has the very real potential to hurt people. Anyone with a modicum of interest in science and the dialectic method would welcome such a conversation, not attempt to stifle it under the guise of copyright law.
Meanwhile, as Power notes, the person doing the censoring is the chairman of a consulting group that is advising the National Health Service in England. A censoring AIDS denier is advising the NHS. Let that sink in for a moment. Then, ask yourself it it's about time we took a hard look at whether the DMCA is doing more harm than good.