Famous 'Converted Jihadist' Issues DMCA Takedowns On Videos Later Shown To Be False
from the copyright-as-censorship dept
“I knew nothing about America until I came here when I was 14 years old,” Caner said. “Everything I knew about American culture I learned through American television.” He went on to explain misconceptions of America learned from watching the “Andy Griffith Show,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” professional wrestling and Chicago Cubs baseball.Right. So, those claims by Caner in that video clearly contradict the documents, like the affidavit from his mother during his parents' divorce proceedings and the divorce papers themselves, which show that they had all lived in Ohio since the time Ergun was two, and that before that his parents were married in Sweden. The final divorce decree shows that Ergun's mother (a Lutheran) got custody of the children. Basically, all of the claims above about growing up in Istanbul don't seem to have much support from those documents.
While on the one hand longing to be an American, Caner advised: “We are taught from birth, you are the infidel. You are sons of Satan.”
“My madrassa (Muslim school) in Istanbul, Turkey; my madrassa in Cairo, Egypt, there’s no question of what the doctrine of jihad was,” he continued. “It is only when we come to America and hear westernized Islam we hear that ‘Oh, Islam means peace.’”
“I was sworn to jihad,” Caner told the Marines. “At the age of 9 until I was 18 years old and I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I was sworn to jihad. I followed the protocols. I knew the three waves. I understood what you do before you take the death plunge, as we call it. I understand why the guys were in the bars with the hookers the night before the bombing of 9/11, because, ‘Eat drink and be merry; tomorrow we are forgiven.’”
Those documents came out a few years ago. But, just recently, Caner apparently had his lawyers issue DMCA takedowns on the videos where he makes those claims about growing up in Istanbul and Cairo, learning about jihad. The takedown, to video hosting site Viddler, claims that Caner "is the exclusive owner of the copyrights in and to the text, artwork, logos, videos, and photographs of his public speeches and presentations."
Smathers has hit back that the work was recorded by the US military, and thus has no copyright (as works of the federal government are automatically public domain). Because of this, they've filed a bar complaint against Caner's lawyer:
Bloggers have been reporting that Caner has been asserting copyright claims on any video where he lied about his past having them removed via the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). On June 3rd, Caner’s attorney sent such a notice to Viddler concerning one video Witnesses Unto Me posted. However, this video is a US Government work, not subject to copyright. This didn’t stop Caner’s attorney from stating “… under penalty of perjury, I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner…” Although, Caner is clearly not the owner. The letters from Caner’s attorney attesting to lies “under penalty of perjury” are embedded at the end of this story. Of course the other videos being taken down across the internet seem to fall squarely under fair use.Those claims by Smathers may be slightly overstated. It is unclear from the information presented if the works in question really are public domain. While it is true that works created by the federal government are public domain, that is not true of works created by others for the government, such as contractors or the like. So, there could be a scenario where whoever filmed the actual video was somehow working for Caner and assigned the copyright to Caner.
Witnesses Unto Me has filed a grievance with the Texas State Bar against Caner’s Attorney, David C. Gibbs III. The bar has not yet had time to review the complaint. Witnesses Unto Me asserted that any attorney practicing in copyright law would know that his client does not own a US Government work and is abusing the DMCA takedown provisions to assist his client in erasing the clear trail of lies.
That said, even if Caner somehow does have the copyright on it, this seems like a pretty clear case of where fair use would apply, since the use of the videos is to expose statements that Smathers is claiming (with a ton of supporting evidence) are false by Caner. It's not difficult to see where there would be a strong fair use interest in allowing those videos to live on. Furthermore, it also seems quite likely that the sole reason for the DMCA takedowns is to hide these statements of Caner's that were later shown to be false by Smathers, making it yet another case where it appears the DMCA and copyright in general are being used for censorship: using the power of the government to stifle free expression in the public interest.