'Anarcho-Capitalist' Stefan Molyneux, Who Doesn't Support Copyright, Abuses DMCA To Silence Critic

from the funny-how-that-works dept

I’m not one who gets tied up in particular philosophies or philosophical movements, so I have to first say that until someone on Twitter pointed this story out to me, I had no idea who Stefan Molyneux was. I was vaguely aware that there were folks supportive of anarcho-capitalism, but I tend to find people who identify too much with philosophies, rather than realities, a bit tiresome. Either way, Molyneux, who writes and speaks frequently about being against “state” violence and has spoken out about how he doesn’t support intellectual property law, apparently chose to make use of the DMCA to take down a bunch of videos from “TruShibes” an account that apparently has mocked Molyneux and apparently hypocritical actions/statements he’s made. As I type this, this is what TruShibes’ YouTube account looks like:

In going through a whole bunch of commentary on this, there appears to be an awful lot of personal animosity going back and forth between certain people who don’t like each other very much, so beware that when you read some of the source documents or view some of the video discussions, they assume a level of knowledge with many of the players that you may not be familiar with. For example, this video by “anarchocap” appears to be the most thorough, but is fairly confusing at the beginning if you don’t know who anyone is.
The key point, however, is that a guy working for Molyneux’s “Free Domain Radio,” named Michael DeMarco, has admitted that he issued the DMCA notices on behalf of Free Domain Radio not because of any legitimate copyright reasons, but because he claims that some of the people who had called in to Molyneux’s talk show had been harassed. Apparently, there was another account, FreeDomainDamon, that was using Molyneux’s videos to highlight details of his callers. However, it appears that TruShibes was not doing that, but was rather calling out activities that TruShibes found to be hypocritical by Molyneux, with a specific focus on him supposedly bullying callers. In that video above, there’s also a clip of Molyneux basically saying he doesn’t support intellectual property law.

That video also highlights a post on Molyneux’s Facebook page in which he declares “IP must die” in response to an article by Mark Cuban on reforming patents.

So it’s always interesting when people claim to not support intellectual property laws at all, but then abuse them for their own benefit. Furthermore, Molyneux went on to Joe Rogan’s podcast and flat out admits that the DeMarco did this for reasons that had nothing to do with copyright. It’s at about 50 minutes into the linked clip. Specifically, he says:

Molyneux: So there was a guy… I won’t say troll, because that will poison the well. There was a fellow out there.

Rogan: A gentleman.

Molyneux: A gentleman of trolly persuasion. I do these call in shows, and people talk about philosophy and ideas and whatever. And he had gotten some of those calls, and through means I don’t pretend to understand, you know doxxing — where you start revealing people’s personal information — he got pictures of their kids, he found out where they lived…

Rogan: What?!?

Molyneux: He had just done stuff where he was…

Rogan: So someone called in and he got pictures of their kid?

Molyneux: What can I tell you?

Rogan: Why would he do that?

Molyneux: Can I pretend to know why people do this, no.

[….]

Molyneux: So, everyone uses my stuff and I don’t care about it. You can do a search on YouTube for my stuff and everybody who said ‘I’d really like to reuse your stuff’ I’m like ‘hey, go for it.’ Right? But we had a number of listeners who called in and said, ‘listen, this guy is doing some pretty creepy stuff with my personal info here, I’m not comfortable with this.’ So we used that mechanism to take that down. It’s got nothing to do with copyright or anything like that, I just felt that listeners were being acted against in a negative way. A significantly negative way, so that’s what we did. It’s got nothing to do with copyright or anything like that. People use my stuff all the time.

Now, Molyneux’s position that the trolling/harassment was a problem is a perfectly reasonable argument to make. But YouTube has a process for dealing with harassment and cyberbullying, and it’s not abusing federal copyright law to silence those videos. And, while it’s unclear if FreeDomainDamon was actually bullying Molyneux’s readers, from everything that people have been presenting online in various forums, it seems pretty clear that TruShibe was not doing that, but was merely critical of Molyneux. However, thanks to multiple copyright claims against TruShibe’s YouTube account, the entire account has been taken down.

It does seem odd for someone who claims to be an anarchist and against “state violence” to then use copyright law to take down critical videos. I can understand the desire to avoid having listeners intimidated or harassed, but abusing copyright law seems like the wrong way to go about it. Not that it seems likely this will lead to a lawsuit, but the very fact that Molyneux flat out admits that this “had nothing to do with copyright” while using copyright law to silence a critic suggests that he may have opened himself up to DMCA 512(f) claim for “materially misrepresenting” his copyright claim with regards to the videos (many of which would have a strong fair use claim as well.

Either way, if you’re going to go around claiming that you’re against intellectual property and an “anarcho capitalist,” it’s going to look pretty sketchy when you use a federal law like copyright to censor someone else’s speech that is critical of you.

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Comments on “'Anarcho-Capitalist' Stefan Molyneux, Who Doesn't Support Copyright, Abuses DMCA To Silence Critic”

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71 Comments
Dana Nutter says:

Re: Re:

Yes, it is possible but a counterclaim must be filed. I know Tru Shibes though an online chat (by handle only) and there’s a problem of having to reveal one’s true identity in the counterclaim, leaving the possibility of FDR using the legal system for even more harassment. Last I heard, the options are being weighed.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Did Molyneux actually file a DMCA takedown or use one of the many other ways Youtube has to screw people over?

You should watch the embedded video. About midway through, the video narrator makes the point that Molyneux could easily have filed an abuse report to YouTube. But he didn’t do that, and used the DMCA instead.

It could be that he was just confused. It’s just as likely that he figured he couldn’t file bogus abuse reports as easy as bogus DMCA reports. After all, the anti-abuse policy is YouTube’s internal policy, so truly bogus reports can be ignored. The DMCA is enforced by law (what he would call “state violence”), so YouTube can’t easily afford to ignore bogus DMCA claims.

Kaega (profile) says:

Opportunities

I feel that just because you don’t believe a law/rule is right, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it to your advantage when given the chance. Most would refer to this as “playing the game”

I’ve seen co-workers time after time be turned down for a job their over qualified for to someone who’s absurdly under qualified just because that person is willing “tweak” stats or numbers. It’s hard to complain to someone doing this, because after all the industry is rewarding them for this behavior. I’m sure we all know the effects of conditioning and positive reinforcement.

I personally feel those who don’t take advantage of the rules to achieve their goals are fools. Although I wouldn’t have announced it on the radio.

Molyneux is not changing his stance on his beliefs, just acknowledging this is how he accomplished his goal. If anything this should demonstrate the blatant errors of the DMCA.

Dana Nutter says:

Re: Opportunities

It’s one thing to call use resources like the police when someone breaks into your home, or otherwise does real physical harm, or to defend against such.

This was clearly an attempt (which appears to be backfiring) to leverage state aggression to censor critics, and not the first one as Moly tried it before with Liberating Minds a few years ago.

It’s all very hypocritical. Unfortunately Molyneux has never handled direct criticism well. People who disagree are frequently removed from his own forums (so much for philosophical ‘discussion’), however that’s his own house where he’s clearly free to do as he likes.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Opportunities

I feel that just because you don’t believe a law/rule is right, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it to your advantage when given the chance. Most would refer to this as “playing the game”
No… thats being a hypocrite.

“Although I wouldn’t have announced it on the radio.”
That would make you a dishonest hypocrite.

Its like an environmentalist going out and buying an Escalade.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Opportunities

“Most would refer to this as “playing the game””

Most who? Most people I know would call this unethical. Of course, those same people (and I) thing the phrase “playing the game” is most often used to excuse unethical behavior.

“It’s hard to complain to someone doing this”

No, it’s really not.

“I personally feel those who don’t take advantage of the rules to achieve their goals are fools”

I personally feel that people who are willing to engage in behavior they condemn in others are corrupt.

James Jensen (profile) says:

Re: Opportunities

I disagree. Licensing work under a copyleft license when you disagree with IP entirely is playing the game: it’s a defensive maneuver, using the system against itself.

What Molyneux did went beyond legitimate defense. It’s more like someone against drug laws turning in a neighbor for smoking pot because they keep throwing trash on his lawn. There are more appropriate ways of handling the situation than abusing an already-unjust law.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Color me surprised

And here I thought that “anarcho-capitalist” (like “crypto-fascist”) was basically just a term that was exclusively used by college pseudo-intellectuals trying to get laid.

Was kind of my impression too. Though, you know how there’s always that one creepy dude who hangs around college kids long after he should be gone… ? 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Color me surprised

It’s about non-interference in business interests by government regulation. You can have all the government you want, so long as it doesn’t touch the profits. In fact, if your big government would like to purchase goods, services, or prison space, the ancaps will be happy to oblige.

Scratch an ancap, find a randroid.

Also, their flag is piss-yellow and black. It could be mistaken for a “For Dummies” book, which is kinda funny.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Color me surprised

Anarcho-capitalism and Obectivism are two completely different things, Objectivists are minarchists (meaning they believe in small government) whereas anarchists don’t believe in any government at all (by definition). To say that anarchists believe “you can have all the government you want” is incorrect, as is the assumption that we are all closet randroids.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Color me surprised

You can’t have a functional capitalist system without the rule of law (contracts enforceable in court, prohibition on settling disputes by violence, etc.).

But “regulation” (in the sense of special rules applicable only to business), no.

There are very few natural monopolies – most of the “classic” types turn out not to be naturally monopolistic in the medium term.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Color me surprised

you can’t have a functional capitalist system without regulation, because it will always devolve to monopoly.

Funny, because I’m of the opposite opinion. You can’t have a functional capitalist system with regulation, because it will always devolve to monopoly.

Government interference in the market exists primarily to create monopolies and cartels. Often times, they are even explicit about that fact.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Color me surprised

“Capitalism is the free exchange of goods and services silly!”

No, it’s not. Capitalism is an economic system where trade and industry are controlled by private owners rather than the state. You can absolutely have a capitalist system without a free market (there are numerous examples in the US).

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Color me surprised

Given the male-to-female ratio in the anarcho-capitalist movement, the idea of someone professing to be one in order to “get laid” is highly amusing to me. If professing extreme libertarian beliefs has ever dropped panties in the history of the world, I’m completely unaware of it. Perhaps you’re thinking of anarcho-communism? 😛

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Color me surprised

Oh, you misunderstand. I didn’t know there was an actual movement. It’s just that the only time I’ve heard people using the phrase seriously, it’s been people trying to impress college women with how smart they are. It usually fails (it’s an incredibly pretentious term), but as with all get-laid strategies, there’s a percentage…

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Color me surprised

Go attend a Ron Paul rally.

You’ll be surprised – it is not 1985 any more.

I think the proportion of pretty young women involved in any political movement is a leading indicator of its popularity.

We’ve arrived at a “libertarian moment”. I don’t know how long it’ll last, or how far it’ll go.

But there is something new going on.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Color me surprised

Oh, you misunderstand. I didn’t know there was an actual movement.

The modern movement of what I would consider anarcho-capitalism has probably only really become a thing in the last 50 years or so (to coincide with Rothbard’s writings in the area). I’m surprised you haven’t met any online, though. We tend to be the target of a lot of vitriol.

Skeptic at Heart says:

DeFOO

I want to point our there is another level of hypocrisy not mentioned in this article. Molyneaux advocates that his members end relationships with anyone who remains a statist after being shown “the one true way” of AnarchoCapitlism. He uses the “against me” argument, saying those folks are willing to use the gun of the state against you for your beliefs.

From a man willing to use the gun of the state to stop Tru Shibes from pointing out how crazy his own words are (what most of the videos were) he is showing his members he is a statist willing to use the gun of the state to get whatever he wants, even if the charges are completely fraudulently. Therefore, all FDR members should end their relationship with Molyneaux ASAP. But, since many members are so deep into the group, they pretty much worship Stefan, so they cannot even see the hypocrisy of his actions and accept his BS explanations. Go to the FDR forums and read the thread under general messages entitled “Because people have asked” and see if the cognitive dissonance doesn’t destroy your own mind with frustration!

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

It does seem odd for someone who claims to be an anarchist and against “state violence” to then use copyright law to take down critical videos.

It’s not odd at all; it’s perfectly consistent with that view of the world, which for all its high-minded talk of principles generally has one overriding guiding principle at its core: “Me First!”

Afterall, if even their dear Supreme Leader, Ayn Rand, took government assistance when it benefited her, why shouldn’t the rank and file do the same thing?

Dana Nutter (user link) says:

Mirror

For those interested there have been a few mirrors of the Tru Shibes channel, though none of them complete but enough to get a good idea of the criticisms of Molyneux.

Here’s the one that seems most comprehensive.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXtp2ZZWZcRrhrR9ICWO71g

And while I’m at it, shameless self-promotion of my own Molyneux article, including links to many more resources.
http://dana.nutter.net/blog/?date=2014-08-18

Adrian Lopez says:

False DMCA claims should carry serious penalties, but the more immediate problem here seems to be YouTube’s terrible handling of DMCA notices. It seems that if you send enough takedown requests within a short time frame, YouTube will treat them each as separate “strikes” and immediately delete your account.

It also highlights a major problem with how the DMCA ought to be interpreted: Should takedown requests count as strikes even before the person accused of infringement has had a chance to respond? Should they count as strikes even after a counter-notice has been filed?

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

He paints himself as some great philosopher, but he’s such a lightweight sophist sometimes that I’m surprised so many people are so enamored with him. Every once in a while he says something that gives me a “Woah, I never thought about it like that” moment, but you have to sort through so much dreck that it’s barely worth it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Is this an abuse of DMCA (where he has no copyright claim) or simply a selective application of DMCA (where he has a copyright and decides to exercise the right against only one individual)? From the interview snippet, it seems this is more like the latter. This might be acting like a jerk, but wouldn’t necessarily be illegal.

Not trying to defend the guy (whom I know thing about) nor the travesty that is the DMCA; just curious.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There are quotes of the guy stating he was gaming the system, so that should be enough to get him in trouble.

But barring that, it’s not even selective application, as the channel in question was obviously reporting on the content in his videos, not re-distributing en-masse. There are supposedly protections for re-using content in this way.

Andyroo says:

Why

Sad mike, i normaly support your views but this time you are going after the wrong person, yes dmca laws should not be abused but when the law is abused every day by big media then every time it is abused is another nail in it’s coffin.

If there is a bad side to this whole palava it is that the law is bad and Youtube/google is not interested in quickly resolving issues regarding big media or others abusing it.

Up to now you have mostly been great with the content you write Mike but this time I think you slipped up a little and did not take the high road.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Why

Sad mike, i normaly support your views but this time you are going after the wrong person, yes dmca laws should not be abused but when the law is abused every day by big media then every time it is abused is another nail in it’s coffin.

So, because it’s regularly abused, we should be okay with it being abused again?

Up to now you have mostly been great with the content you write Mike but this time I think you slipped up a little and did not take the high road.

What, exactly, is “the high road” here?

Nicolas (profile) says:

Pragmatism

People who identify with philosophy rather than reality? What a repugnant dichotomy. As if those who identify with the philosophy of liberty, and have risked property and life to defend it, don’t form the basis of what Techdirt usually seems to defend.

If pragmatism is our guide, then morality has no place and we should simply try to figure out what works best, no matter who prevails or who suffers.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Pragmatism

People who identify with philosophy rather than reality? What a repugnant dichotomy. As if those who identify with the philosophy of liberty, and have risked property and life to defend it, don’t form the basis of what Techdirt usually seems to defend.

I believe you are reading too much into the sentence. My issue is with people who define themselves by philosophy.

I’m all for people having a set of rules and morals to live by, but I think it’s a personal thing. My general problem is when people identify themselves as part of a named philosophy they tend to be rather cultlike and antagonistic towards other opinions.

I have a personal moral code and rules by which I live, but I don’t name it nor identify with any particular group.

It may be a personal bias, but I find those who so closely identify with certain groups to be insufferable.

Greg Gauthier (profile) says:

Trolls are the real hypocrites

Look, the only hypocrisy here is with the trolls. People who do personal conversations on his show are taking a huge personal risk to be that vulnerable in public.

The political system under which we live offers someone no choice in a situation of self-defense or even just dispute resolution, OTHER than the only thing it can offer: which is the threat of violence.

Trolls are the ones exploiting this fact, and the vulnerability of Stef’s callers, in order to push him into a position to have to use it. So that they can later cry ‘hypocrisy!’

Fuck those assholes, and fuck you for taking them seriously.

Rosey Ribbles (profile) says:

Re: Trolls are the real hypocrites

Fuck you for trying to pawn Stefbot’s responsibility for using state violence on “trolls.”

Tru Shibes wasn’t a troll, they exposed contradictions in Stefbot’s ideas and changing bios. You’re the one exploiting false narratives to exempt Stefbot from moral responsibility for his decision to use force.

If “trolls” were a problem, he could have use Youtube’s procedures deal with it. Quit being a coward and justifying Stefbot’s use of the gun he claims to despise.

Jason Maher says:

Business cycles

If state intervention in the market (“regulation”) is designed to combat business cycles, then any reasonable assessment of its effectiveness could only conclude that it has been an abject failure. Of course, the reality is that the cycle of boom and bust is actually caused by state intervention in the first place. The cruel joke is that every time the state’s interference blows up in its face (and everyone else’s), it responds by interfering all the more, sowing the seeds for he next bust.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Business cycles

The cruel joke is that every time the state’s interference blows up in its face (and everyone else’s), it responds by interfering all the more, sowing the seeds for he next bust.

That’s because for some reason governments insist on procyclical policies (austerity during recession, spending during expansion) rather than countercyclical (the opposite). It makes no sense.

MrTroy (profile) says:

It does seem odd for someone who claims to be an anarchist and against “state violence” to then use copyright law to take down critical videos.
I don’t know, if I thought a law was stupid and could be abused, then demonstrating how the law can be abused seems like a valid point to make.

I may be being too generous though, I have no interest in the parties involved.

Pasta Art says:

Who's the aggressor?

If someone steals the privacy of your callers and uses that information online, is that not a violation of the non-aggression principle? If the state holds a monopoly on force, and takes your money, what options do you really have to address the violation of the non-aggression principle? SM chose to use the only method of force available to him via state IP laws, even though he does not really believe in those laws.

The confusion is similar to when Ron Paul took Social Security payments. Paul does not believe in Social Security, but since the government is already taking his money, there’s no sense in not using the system. After all, you don’t really have a choice.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Who's the aggressor?

“The confusion is similar to when Ron Paul took Social Security payments.”

That’s not at all similar. Social Security is simply getting back the money you put in. It’s more similar to a retirement account. The money Ron Paul received was his money being returned to him.

In contrast, using the DMCA when you oppose copyright is pure hypocrisy. He isn’t getting back anything he put in. It’s more like if someone is opposed to guns goes out and uses a gun.

Lloyd Voluntaryist (user link) says:

Substance or Speculation?

After all the juicy gossip/backstory is provided, this is the entire substance of the article:

“from everything that people have been presenting online in various forums, it seems pretty clear that TruShibe was not doing that, but was merely critical of Molyneux.”

That’s not an argument.

“It seems” isn’t even a statement of fact. This is a statement of persuasive sophistry.

Is X the case? Yes? Substantiate the claim.
Is X the case? Are you not sure? Step away from your keyboard and do further research, motherfucker.

This is the manner in which Mike Masnick’s expensive Cornell University prepared him to engage ideas.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Substance or Speculation?

Mike even pointed out the key point of the story: “The key point, however, is that a guy working for Molyneux’s “Free Domain Radio,” named Michael DeMarco, has admitted that he issued the DMCA notices on behalf of Free Domain Radio not because of any legitimate copyright reasons, but because he claims that some of the people who had called in to Molyneux’s talk show had been harassed.”

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