Takedown (Non-DMCA) Filed Against YouTube Video Challenging Controversial Cancer Clinic

from the standing-up-for-free-speech dept

Until reading up on this story, I had never heard of the Burzynski Clinic, which is a controversial "cancer treatment" clinic in Houston. It appears that the clinic has something of a history of trying to legally threaten and bully those who challenged its treatments, often with threats of libel lawsuits against critics. After the last major incident, in November of 2011, the clinic issued a press release saying that it had fired the "web optimization" expert it previously hired "to attempt to stop the dissemination of false and inaccurate information." However, the tone of the rest of the letter was still in line with the pattern of complaining about critics.

And, it appears, the clinic continues to bully critics too. The website Skeptical Humanities is claiming that Eric Merola, a filmmaker close to Burzynski who made an uncritical film about it, has been able to take down a video critical of Burzynski, and is also trying to get the author at Skeptical Humanities, Bob Blaskiewicz, kicked off Facebook. Skeptical Humanities claims that he used an "illegal DMCA takedown" to get the video taken down, but I don't think that's correct. You can look at the page where the video once was, and rather than a typical DMCA notice, instead it has a notice I hadn't seen before: "This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy against spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content."
That's not a DMCA (or even a content ID) issue, but rather (as it suggests) stems from complaints about the content being somehow spammy or scammy. Blaskiewicz decided to repost/mirror the video, and I don't see how anything in it qualifies as "spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content." It presents a bunch of information about why people might want to be skeptical of the Burzynski clinic, but is quite clear in laying out its evidence and suggesting people be careful and verify everything. Furthermore, Blaskiewicz notes that, last year, Merola had urged people on Facebook to report some Blaskiewicz Facebook comments as "spam" or "hate speech" with the very clear stated goal of having Facebook "knock this guy off for a while."
For a company that claims to be careful about its social media presence, you'd think it could do a lot better than going after online critics.

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  1. identicon
    DogBreath, 20 Apr 2013 @ 11:01am

    Re: #correction

    They are a "prestigious" clinic that has won a recent award (unfortunately for them, it was from James Randi):

    JREF's Pigasus Awards “Honors” Dubious Peddlers of “Woo”

    Hollywood, CA. —The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) promotes critical thinking through grants for outstanding teachers, scholarships to inspire skeptical students, educational resources for the classroom and general public, and annual conferences showcasing the best of skeptical thought—but every April Fools’ Day, JREF “honors” the five worst offenders who are intentionally or unintentionally peddling harmful paranormal and pseudoscientific nonsense.

    Since 1997, the JREF’s annual Pigasus Awards have been bestowed on the most deserving charlatans, swindlers, psychics, pseudo-scientists, and faith healers—and on their credulous promoters, too. The awards are named for both the mythical flying horse Pegasus of Greek mythology, and the highly improbable flying pig of popular cliché.

    These are this year’s “winners.”

    The Pigasus Award in the Scientist Category goes to Houston biochemist and physician Stanislaw Burzynski, who sells expensive cancer cures by administering “antineoplastons,” costing his customers tens of thousands of dollars, and which have never been shown to be efficacious in controlled trials. His cancer therapy is not FDA approved. Despite his many customers to whom he sells his so-called “cancer cure,” he has never published the final results of a single clinical trial. The FDA has sent his clinic warning letters about their unsafe research methods and is currently investigating possible violations of rules meant to protect research subjects, including children.

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