Oh, look. Yet another person has made the assumption that the "c" in "copyright" stands for "censorship." We've seen this before. Several times. Just in the past six months, we've seen these attempts (sometimes successful) to wield copyright as a weapon:
- Actress Cindy Garcia tries to have "Innocence of Muslims" film removed from Youtube by claiming she owns the copyright to her performance in the film.
- Human Synergistics International gets a 2-year-old blog post removed for quoting four sentences from its "exclusive" trapped-in-a-desert team building exercise.
- Universal Music uses a false copyright claim to remove a negative review of one of its artist's albums.
- A minority owner of the Miami Heat sues a blogger and Google in an attempt to censor an unflattering photo of him.
- A cartoonist, irritated by criticism of her work, attempts to get her cartoons removed from Something Awful, accusing the site of theft.
Now, Craig Brittain, the owner of "revenge porn" site "Is Anybody Down" (whose first skirmishes
with Marc Randazza were covered here) is trying to remove posts criticizing his site, his inability to keep his story straight, his likely extortionate "photo takedown service," and, well, pretty much everything, actually. He's sent a DMCA notice demanding the removal of three posts at Popehat
, claiming that these posts contain copyrighted material.
Craig also tried to get the three posts about him on Popehat taken down by sending a bogus DMCA takedown notice to our host, Dreamhost. I've been a little mad at Dreamhost recently because of some outages, but I'm very happy with their response to this, which gives me confidence they will handle it correctly. They've recognized that's the notice is defective and they're not requiring a counter-notice from me yet — though I'd enjoy writing one.
It's refreshing to see a hosting company dismiss a baseless claim out of hand, unfortunately one of the rarer sights on the internet. Ken, who wrote all the posts in question, has posted the DMCA notice at Popehat, noting that Brittain clearly doesn't know, or doesn't care, what copyright actually
The notice is patently ridiculous on any number of levels. Note, for instance, that Mr. Brittain is asserting copyright in a printout of his criminal record and in a correspondence between "David Blade" and Marc Randazza.
He also notes that Brittain takes care not to make any assertions that "David Blade" is an actual person (although he seems more than willing to protect Blade's "copyright" for him). Then there's this paragraph, which starts out in the general area of copyright before wandering all over the place:
Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled: The posts and images above contain personal information which is owned and copyrighted by its respective copyright owners and is damaging in nature and contains personal information in violation of copyright and numerous privacy laws and must be removed immediately.
Sure, some of the stuff on the list might be "damaging in nature," but it's all self-inflicted. Here's what Brittain wants removed:
An ad from his own website isn't "personal," and if it's "damaging," it's Brittain's own fault. The communication between nonexistent "lawyer" David Blade III and Marc Randazza may be both "personal" and "damaging," and while whoever actually wrote "Blade's" side may have a weak copyright claim in his portion of the discussion, there's obviously an incredibly strong fair use claim in republishing the entire correspondence. The felony record could
be considered "damaging," but it's a matter of public record, removing it from the "personal" column -- and there's certainly no copyright claim there. And the photo? It's a screenshot of Chance Trahan's public tweets
! How the hell does that violate anything
Craig/David/Chance, the unholy trinity that is actually (most likely) a duo (at best), is attempting to undo the damage done, not by apologizing, taking down the site or just simply shutting up. Instead, Brittain thinks the internet can be controlled by abusing existing IP laws. And even if this particular gambit had worked, it still wouldn't have worked.
Even if you catch some abuse official on a bad day and convince them to take a few posts down, 100 more will pop up talking about your sick campaign of fraud and extortion.
Of all the things copyright is supposed
to be used for, trying to erase your dodgy internet history isn't one of them. A weapon that has the potential to outlive you for seventy years is entirely too much power to be placing in the hands of those willing to abuse it. As we've noted before, the "perjury" aspect of bogus takedowns simply isn't enough of a threat
to keep DMCA notices safely holstered.
Craig Brittain may have felt he could censor his way back into "respectability," but he's apparently just going to keep underestimating his critics. This is going to end badly, but not anytime soon, it appears. As disheartening as it is to see the abuse of intellectual property in the pursuit of shutting critics up, it's nice to see these clumsy attempted bludgeonings working less and less frequently.