'Anarcho-Capitalist' Stefan Molyneux Sued For Abusing The DMCA
from the state-violence-in-response-to-state-violence? dept
A few months ago, we wrote about the strange saga of self-described “anarcho-capitalist” Stefan Molyneux more or less admitting that he and a colleague named Michael DeMarco had filed questionable DMCA notices in response to some critical YouTube videos. DeMarco and Molyneux defended the use of the DMCA by arguing that the videos involved doxxing some Molyneux supporters. While that may have been true of some, it did not appear to be the case with one account, from so-called “Tru Shibes,” whose videos were pretty focused on criticizing Molyneux himself. Either way, we found it especially bizarre that someone so against “state violence” of any kind (and who had spoken out against intellectual property entirely) would then resort to abusing government-run copyright law to silence criticism. Even worse, Molyneux flat out admitted (on a Joe Rogan podcast) that he wasn’t using the DMCA for any copyright-related purpose. In that post, I noted that it seemed unlikely to lead to a lawsuit, but Molyneux had probably opened himself up to a DMCA 512(f) claim for “materially misrepresenting” a copyright claim.
Apparently, I underestimated the person behind the Tru Shibes account, because late last week, she sued Molyneux (pdf) with a 512(f) claim, and a defamation claim as well. The plaintiff, who only identifies herself as “J. Raven,” describes in detail the critique videos she had created, challenging some of Molyneux’s statements. But the overall point of the lawsuit is to highlight the (admitted) abuse of the DMCA. The defamation claim is in response to Molyneux implying that Tru Shibes was engaged in doxxing Molyneux supporters. The filing details how Molyneux/DeMarco clearly did not use the DMCA for copyright purposes, but to silence a critic. It further details how even if there was a copyright claim, Tru Shibes’ use was clearly fair use. And that brings us to the 512(f) claim:
On information and belief, Defendants knew that the critique videos did not infringe their copyright when they sent YouTube the takedown notices. Defendants acted in bad faith when they sent the takedown notices, knowingly and materially misrepresenting that they had concluded the critique videos were infringing.
In the alternative, Defendants should have known, if they had acted with reasonable care or diligence, that the critique videos did not infringe Defendants? copyright on the date it sent YouTube its complaints under the DMCA.
Then there’s the defamation claim:
Plaintiff is informed, believes, and thereon alleges that Defendants published false, non-privileged, and defamatory statements regarding Plaintiff with the intent to injure and damage Plaintiff?s reputation and to interfere with and to disrupt Plaintiff?s existing and prospective relationships.
The published statements falsely accused Plaintiff of doxing Defendant Molyneux?s listeners and/or other people.
Plaintiff is informed, believes, and thereon alleges that Defendants expressly attempted to damage Plaintiff?s reputation in order to punish Plaintiff and disrupt and cause damage to her personally and to her Tru Shibes YouTube channel.
Frankly, the defamation claim is pretty weak, and I’d be surprised if that gets anywhere. There could be some argument over whether or not Tru Shibes / J. Raven is a “public figure” (higher standard for defamation), but the fact that she’s producing videos on YouTube probably makes her a public figure for this purpose. That would mean that she would need to show that Molyneux’s statements about the doxxing were done with “actual malice.” It’s not clear that’s the case, as it seems more likely he was just using the doxxing excuse to try to explain why he and DeMarco had used the DMCA.
Where the case is a lot more interesting, of course, is the 512(f) claim. As we’ve discussed repeatedly, 512(f) claims are really difficult, because the courts have interpreted that clause very, very narrowly. However, here you have a case where the person using the DMCA has basically gone out of his way to admit that he’s abusing the DMCA for non-copyright reasons to silence speech he doesn’t like. If this can’t win a 512(f) claim, it would prove pretty conclusively that 512(f) is completely broken and needs to be fixed.