Mormons The Latest To Make Their Secret Documents More Popular By Trying To Take Them Down

from the is-streisand-a-mormon? dept

A couple months ago, in discussing The Streisand Effect with a reporter, the reporter asked if I thought lawyers would one day be accused of malpractice for not informing their clients of the potential implications of demanding some content be pulled off the internet. While I doubt it will reach the point of malpractice, it certainly does make you wonder what some lawyers are thinking when there are such clear examples of what happens when you try to suppress material online. Earlier this year, the lawsuit that brought plenty of new attention to the concept of The Streisand Effect was when a Swiss bank, Julius Baer, convinced a judge to shut down the site Wikileaks for hosting some documents related to a lawsuit Julius Baer was involved in. Of course, not surprisingly, the attempt to shut down Wikileaks got those documents much more attention (and did the same for Wikileaks as well). Eventually, the judge reversed the order and Julius Baer dropped the lawsuit. But the end result showed how badly the strategy backfired on Julius Baer. Before it demanded the documents be taken down, almost no one saw the documents or even knew that the bank was involved in a case that accused of it laundering money. Afterwards, a lot more people knew about the lawsuit and had seen the documents -- and they were still online.

That situation got so much publicity, you would think that anyone would think twice about going down the same path. No such luck. Last month, Scientology threatened Wikileaks for hosting Scientology documents, and this morning (as a whole bunch of folks have sent in) news is coming out that the Mormon Church is threatening Wikileaks as well, for hosting church documents. In this case, the Mormon Church isn't just going after Wikileaks, but also threatened the WikiMedia foundation and document hosting site Scribd. It went after WikiMedia because WikiNews ran an article about the document and linked to them (which is hardly copyright infringement). Scribd was apparently hosting a copy of the documents as well (since taken down). Wikileaks, however, true to its charter, is refusing to take down the documents.

While you can understand why the Church might not like it's documents being made public, it does seem ridiculous that whoever decided to start threatening everyone didn't do the most basic research to recognize what would happen as soon as they threatened sites. Given what happened with Julius Baer, it should have been abundantly clear that threatening Wikileaks would almost guarantee that the documents were both more widely seen than before and copied widely across the internet.

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  1. identicon
    HiveRadical, 14 May 2008 @ 12:38pm

    There are a few issues that don't get considered.

    To keep a hold of intellectual property rights present law demands that the holder of said rights can demonstrate that they've consistently fought to preserve those rights because they can be ruled as becoming public domain if an entity has not sufficiently sought to maintain their rights through litigation when infringement happens. So on one hand it's kind of required by law that you not permit your infringed works to gain, uncontested, a pervasive level of infringement. Look to the history of the 'escalator' for an example of this, though there are others.

    As to keeping things secret and remaining honorable in intent vis a vis the comments by one Anonymous Coward and Overcast I'd ask if any of you have children? If a parent is confident they are honorably raising their children then, following the reasoning of not keeping secrets, then all interactions with them, and all goings on in the home should be items and actions which you wouldn't feel the need to keep from the world. I mean if honorable is equal to full disclosure then why do we have the moniker 'Anonymous Coward' positing the question? I think it's important that keeping something secret is sometimes requisite, whether it's to keep it sacred or to produce the best out come. The US constitution was drafted behind closed doors. Would we have the same constitution if it had been done with an open door policy? I realize we may have significant swaths of people that are not theists reading this, but one needs but look at Christ to see that secrecy in religion has been a constant. And also, if honorable work is inherently open then shouldn't we have the capacity to see into any and all meetings by any and all groups, entities, and persons that claim to be honorable? Shouldn't we then be able to eavesdrop on research activities done by any researcher? Access to their notes and to watch their labs? We certainly have the technology. Why not just have a society where anyone and everyone could spy in on anyone and everyone else ? If we're honorable we'd "have nothing to fear" because who can be honorable and still have 'secret documents'?

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