Homeland Security Issuing Its Own DMCA Takedowns On YouTube To Stifle Speech

from the seems-questionable... dept

We recently wrote about the fight over copyright/fair use in political videos. In the comments, someone anonymous pointed us to a YouTube page including a typical takedown notice.. Here’s a screenshot.

This is actually the first time I can recall that I’ve seen a takedown that had “multiple” takedown notices. So it’s interesting that YouTube even has such an error message. But what really caught my attention was the second claimant listed. United States Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security? Issuing copyright takedowns? For what it’s worth, the commenter who submitted this pointed us to another video, which they claim is the same as what was taken down. I have no idea if it’s the same video or not, but it is some idiotic conspiracy mongering, taking one comment from a reporter completely out of context, and pretending President Obama said it, when he did not. I never understand conspiracy theories like that, but that’s really neither here nor there.

The real question is why is Homeland Security issuing takedowns? Works produced by the federal government, of course, can’t have copyright. However, it is possible for the government to hold copyrights — mainly if someone else gets it and assigns it to the government. So it’s possible that happened here, though it still seems like a strange move. If the video is the same as the other one pointed to, it’s just conspiracy theory claptrap, and I don’t see why DHS would even bother issuing a takedown.

But, even if we assume that the copyright itself and the takedown were legit, does this seem reasonable at all? Having a government agency directly using a copyright claim to take down a video? Especially when that group is DHS — in which national internet censor ICE exists. Giving it the power to censor videos too just seems like it’s going way too far. It’s not as if Homeland Security is going to bring the work “to market” to make money, so it’s not like there’s an “impact on the market” for the work. The only reason to issue the takedown — no matter how accurate the claim is — is to silence speech. A government organization using a government-granted monopoly to stifle speech may be all too common, but that doesn’t mean it should pass by unremarked upon.

I reached out to people at YouTube to see if they could explain why DHS appears to be issuing DMCA takedowns, and got back the equivalent of a “no comment.” I also reached out to Homeland Security, who at first seemed interested in looking into the details and then completely stopped responding to emails. Having not received further communication from them in over a week at this point, I’m just going with the post as is, in the hopes that maybe someone out there can explain why the federal government is using copyright to censor speech?

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Comments on “Homeland Security Issuing Its Own DMCA Takedowns On YouTube To Stifle Speech”

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89 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Having homeland security block your video is like gold to a conspiracy theorist.

?… and go to jail, which is what I thought all reporters aspire to anyway. I mean all of us aspire to be committee chairman. I thought that was the crown jewel in a reporter?s resume is to actually go to jail….?

?????????U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy speaking at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 (video)

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, it is, because it makes it appear that the government has something to hide.

Newsflash for the ‘gobmint wouldn’t harm us’ people out there: if the government goes to these means to take something out of public circulation, they probably do have something to hide and there might be some truth in the thing somewhere.

My Lai was called a ‘conspiracy theory’ until hard evidence came out that it actually happened, so don’t be too willing to say that these people are nuts.

Baldaur Regis (profile) says:

I also reached out to Homeland Security, who at first seemed interested in looking into the details and then completely stopped responding to emails.

That’s because they took the time to look up Techdirt….you dirty commie. /sarc

And they probably used a phone book to do it. I’m very surprised ANYBODY at DHS could find an onramp to the Information Superhighway. But hey, maybe Techdirt is listed on AOL.

Anonymous Coward says:

Actually, I can think of a few ways that homeland security might have control of copyright material.

While works produced by the feds may not have copyright, works created FOR the feds may have copyright, and that copyright assigned to the feds as a result.

A typical conspiracy nut video could very likely contain shots from PSAs and other materials produced for Homeland Security by third party companies. Those companies would have to secure copyright on various things, and assign that copyright to the feds.

Sorry Mike, but your massive “censorship” claptrap rings empty once again. Don’t you ever get tired of being wrong?

Jay (profile) says:

Embarrassment

Having not received further communication from them in over a week at this point, I’m just going with the post as is, in the hopes that maybe someone out there can explain why the federal government is using copyright to censor speech?

I’ll keep it simple. It’s embarrassment. The government is overstepping on the 1st Amendment and DHS is not going to provide due process here. The entire team of the DHS and the DoJ has become politicized to the point that they want to censor things. This isn’t being conspiratorial given how the Obama administration has reacted to whistleblowers and the leaking of information. More than likely, someone is looking at this and even if it’s insignificant, they want to cover this up.

I have no doubt that in the very near future, you’ll see even more abuse of the Youtube takedowns to censor people and free speech since the DMCA allows for copyright takedowns without any regards to free speech concerns.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Embarrassment

This whole thing is pretty suspicious. Why would YouTube go “no comment” if it’s legit? More likely the “no comment” was substituted for “we got duped, again”. The Obama-as-Nazi theme is a well worn tactic of the Teabaggers and associated nutters. And what better way to get such transparent shit-slinging than to cry “censorship”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Embarrassment

What I’m saying is that I doubt that it was DHS or CBS that was responsible for the notice. I think the juvenile delinquents who posted it engineered a false flag takedown as a vehicle to shout “CENSORSHIP” and draw attention to their drivel. It makes perfect sense that Google would soil itself if it thought the takedown came from DHS. It makes no sense that either CBS or DHS would shine a light on this offal by submitting a takedown request.

Dreddsnik says:

” I’m just going with the post as is, in the hopes that maybe someone out there can explain why the federal government is using copyright to censor speech? “

Because they can, and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it anymore.

There MAY have been a time when we could have done something, but because of 9/11 we have given too much away. We all know that once the government takes a right they never give it back.

We’ve given them too much, and it’s too late to get it back.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Honestly, other than the ‘the person who submitted it reported it himself to try and given his video credibility’ idea posted above, my first thought was that someone in the government is just trolling the poor nut.

Think about it: their actions, especially when someone disagrees with them, paints their collective mental maturity in the very young range, so one of them probably saw the nutter while looking for targets for his bosses to sue, and figured he’d get a laugh getting it taken down in the name of a government agency, thereby giving said nutter even more paranoia fuel.

Mike says:

I made the Original Post MORE INFO

I made the Original Posting. There are Several Hundred similarly removed videos by Homeland Security as well. I am not a conspiracy theorist, just very disturbed that “Homeland Security” is ripping the videos down, any videos.

Regarding the First Video that You Reported;
The video’s URL is from an “Annotation Link” embedded within another YouTube video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_654674&feature=iv&src_vid=6vlYJUM52yE&v=0CV8Xt2VWvc

This is the STILL LIVE YouTube video with the annotation link pointing to the removed video;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vlYJUM52yE

This is the “Removed by the Homeland Security Video” featured in this article
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CV8Xt2VWvc That results in the Homeland Security Takedown “Sorry” notification..

=======================================

Google Search the Unique Video Code for that removed video to find all the spots that the video was embedded. v=0CV8Xt2VWvc

You will see ALL the Pages that had the Video Embedded. Look how the embedding rate Skyrocketed the week before it was removed.

========================================

You will also find many Blog Postings pointing to it with the same Google Search; For Example, below.

http://antimisandry.com/chit-chat-main/obama-calls-new-world-order-berlin-17886.html#axzz22KuT0Pe2

This Blog posting dated 15th-January-2009; Shows this link with the original title. The embedded videos still display the original video title as well.

http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=0CV8Xt2VWvc%5DYouTube – Obama Calls For New World Order In Berlin

======================================

You can go to Archive.org The internet Wayback Machine
http://wayback.archive.org/web/*/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CV8Xt2VWvc
To see the Cached copies of the video back to 2008

Here is the Cache from March 8 2011, This video had 516,043 views
http://web.archive.org/web/20110308070526/http://www.youtube.com/watch?

Here is the Original Video Title and Full Description

Obama Calls For New World Order In Berlin
Uploaded by jettercat on Jul 25, 2008
Taken from another vid site…

Friday, July 25, 2008 The media hailed Obama’s Berlin speech in front of hundreds of thousands yesterday as a call for a vision of America as part of a “new world order”.

Excerpts from The International Herald Tribune:

“I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before,” Obama said, confronting the delicate issue of campaigning abroad. “Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen ? a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.”

Obama was warmly embraced by the German press, which frequently referred to his aura, or as the newspaper Bild put it in Thursday’s paper, the “political pop star.”

“Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe,” Obama said. “No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more ? not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.”

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/07/24/america/sub25obamacnd.phpv=0CV8Xt2VWvc

============================================

Now go back to that same Internet Wayback Machine Page and look at the Related Videos

http://web.archive.org/web/20110308070526/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CV8Xt2VWvc

The ones with “Grayed Out Thumbs” represent videos no longer available on YouTube. Several Hundred Similar were taken down by Homeland Security.

Many “Grayed Out” uniquely refer to Obama and “New World Order”.
HOWEVER Videos with Bush+New World Order and Ron Paul+ New World Order Remain untouched

Videos that compare Obama and Adolf Hitler also display “Homeland Security Takedowns”

================================================

MIKE says:

Takedowns for Censorship ABOUND!

Here are MORE Questionable Take Downs
http://web.archive.org/web/20100607123639/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh4JHB3yo0s&feature=related

Today
Takedown by;
Revolution Pac
RonPaulGrassroots
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh4JHB3yo0s&feature=related

Why are 7 year old videos being taken down by Brand New Political PAC Groups anyway???

Why is Statfor Taking Down literally hundreds of Unflattering “Occupy Wall Street” bystander Videos. Does Staford even Produce videos?

Nomad of Norad says:

Clearly DMCA abuse....

Well, the more of this sort of stuff happens (where an outfit not related to the ones who own the copyright on something perform a DMCA takedown), the more likely it is that some sort of reforms to DMCA will be demanded to take place. People will get fed up with this. One idea I’ve heard multiple times would be make those who issue wrongful DMCA takedown requests (for stuff they do NOT own) pay a heavy fine for each one they do. But it would also make sense to make it absolutely mandatory that all ALL places that have user-submitted content, and that therefore must comply with DMCA takedowns, MUST provide a party and means independent of the supposed content owner AND independent of the ones who submitted the content to go to in cases of dispute over the validity of a DMCA takedown request, and that this independent party MUST have veto power over ALL DMCA takedowns. And it MUST be appealable to an agency higher than that in the case of the first party declaring the takedown valid. In other words, make it so DMCA-takedown-rubberstamping is absolutely forbidden, but also make it so someone cannot just keep submitting DMCA takedowns again and again on the same material. I.e. someone can appeal a DMCA takedown for as long as it takes to overturn it, but one cannot just keep appealing an overturning of a DMCA takedown until they get the overturning overruled.

jessica says:

Just a random thought but where the hell is CBS’s grounds for a DMCA complaint? That news report in the video said to be a duplicate is from Sky News in the UK. That doesn’t sound like it came from the Sky/CBS studio in Chicago. Is CBS claiming to own the Nazi propaganda footage added at the end? Is CBS saying that Sky News used their footage for the report? Not much of anything in the reasons the video was removed makes sense to me.

Androgynous Cowherd says:

Account Banned

It says the video’s gone because the account it was posted by was removed for copyright complaints. The complaints may have been for other videos than this one. YT apparently has decided that if enough of your videos are deemed infringing they all go.

So the bad behavior here is mostly by Google, though Homeland Security has no business issuing takedowns for any videos for the reasons already noted.

ThisGuy says:

You all realize that Obama will be out of office in short time, who ever replaces him will no doubt do a better job as the President of the United States of America. He is a disgrace to the Office of the United States President and a terrible financial investor. He has wasted the money of every hard working American and placed it in the hands of incompetent free loaders who would rather reap the benefits of being lazy than working for an honest wage and making a life for themselves. He has put this country so far into debt that we will NEVER find a successful way to climb out and it is disappointing that our children and our children’s children will have to deal with his POOR choices. I pray that we find a way to fix his mistakes, if not then this country is in grave danger down the road. -An intelligent onlooker

Anonymous Coward says:

The rest of the story

DHS was created to be a wholly owned uncontrolled subsidiary of corrupt enforcement for the criminal corporations, politicians and elite. They do the bidding of their masters. Your taxes and quantitatively devalued dollar help to ensure they can buy hundreds of millions of rounds of ammunition and act as a military body within our formerly free country. DHS has no authority to order take downs, make raids to threaten and intimidate others or enforce any of these actions. Only the courts can give orders to do this and even then DHS does not have the authority to do anything. They have granted this power to themselves and few if any have the backbone to stop them. So far in this country few if any have dared to stand up for their rights and what is right. If this continues then we will all lose these rights permanently at some future point.

Simple solutions ensure that every post you make on corrupt tube is in some way legally covered by your Constitution rights to not be taken down. But never fear they will do it anyway so be prepared for a fight. Nobody said keeping your freedoms was easy. Just ask the millions that have died in previous wars to help us obtain or protect these rights.

Make the post under Free Speech use. Maybe add commentary. Or make it a parody in some way. If it is for educational purposes then do something to educate someone on it. Or use something else covered under fair use and make that clear when you post it.

Then tell them to all to go F*ck (f-word self-censored) themselves. Ironic that I have to sensor my own freedom of speech or an internet company posting an article about illegal censorship of Free Speech will do it for me.

Think people!

Anonymous Coward says:

I made the Original Post MORE INFO

Welcome to the harsh reality of political stifling and false elections. The majority of straw poll delegates were just jilted out of the GOP because of rule changing mid-game.Meanwhile,DHS are censoring vids relating our current Pres to any NWO conspiracies. Hrm..sounds like a conspiracy.Lol!

Anonymous Coward says:

I made the Original Post MORE INFO

Welcome to the harsh reality of political stifling and false elections. The majority of straw poll delegates were just jilted out of the GOP because of rule changing mid-game.Meanwhile,DHS are censoring vids relating our current Pres to any NWO conspiracies. Hrm..sounds like a conspiracy.Lol!

Amaroq (profile) says:

I can comfirm the full title

I can confirm the full title of the video that was blocked with a DMCA takedown. “Obama Calls For New World Order In Berlin”. Almost the same title as the video that you linked to in your article.

When I found out about this, I wanted to know what it was that was taken down. Because obviously if the government wants a video taken down, there must be a reason.

I started googling around trying to figure out if I could find a copy of the video cached by google’s caching service that lets you view cached copies of a site. I was unable to find a cache of the video itself. But I was able to find a cached page of the video in question. The cache lead to the embed URL for the video that had been taken down.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/0CV8Xt2VWvc

As you can see, the “0CV8Xt2VWvc” indicates that it’s the same video that was taken down. And this is on youtube live. Hover your mouse around the screen, and the full title of the video will show up. However, the video won’t play. And the google cached version of the video was nothing but a black screen that wouldn’t do anything.

It doesn’t -necessarily- prove that the content in the copy you linked is the same. But it proves that the title of the video was “Obama Calls For New World Order In Berlin”. If the linked video is the same video that was taken down, then someone up there didn’t like the comparison between Obama and Hitler.

Maybe someone out there with better google-fu than me can find the cached video.

Amaroq says:

I can comfirm the full title

I’ve got some more information now.

I continued trying to find a cached copy of the video. Out of curiosity, I tried used something called the Wayback Machine to find a cached copy of the original youtube page this was on. The actual page with a description, comments, etc. Not just the URL. Here is the cache.
http://web.archive.org/web/20110714162638/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CV8Xt2VWvc
(Note that any links you click will be relative to the archive url and thus won’t work. If you want to view the article he linked in his description, you must copy/paste the text of it.)

Out of curiosity, I decided to check out the userpage of the guy who uploaded this video: jettercat.
http://www.youtube.com/user/jettercat

But as you can see, jettercat’s account was suspended as well.

Now that I have this new useful tool for viewing page caches, I used Wayback Machine to view jettercat’s cached account page.
http://web.archive.org/web/20090611144643/http://www.youtube.com/user/jettercat

There content of that page may give some insight into what the guy’s views may have been. There’s a video at the top about the teaparty. In his description, among other things, he says he’s a right-leaning libertarian.

But, among the information there is a link to another account of his that he apparently uses as a video blog. GunClinger.
http://www.youtube.com/user/GunClinger

This account is live. And among its featured channels, is “Street Sand AveNEWS”, which is a link to the jettercat user!

Thus I believe I have tracked down the man who posted the video that was taken down. I’ve sent him a message asking him to confirm whether the alternately-linked video is the same video as the one that was taken down.

Amaroq (profile) says:

Re: I can comfirm the full title

I got a response.

“Ah crap… Stupid mobile, just lost my reply to you…. Yes, my old channel was one that contained that video. I don’t know why channels are being yanked, when Ppl are staying well within the lines of the law. The same week mine was pulled, ronpaul2008 and nufffrespect were down as well.. I’m sure many others. I made a video reply for you, feel free to share it. Btw, that was not the only upload I had that was flagged in such a way. Rather bizarre…”
-GunClinger

Here’s the video he made in reply to me. I really liked it. He seems like a really positive guy and I got a good chuckle out of watching it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NLuXixZ5_A

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