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*** SCIENTOLOGY Fights Critics with 4000 DMCA Takedown Notices

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09/08/2008 02:26 PM
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*** SCIENTOLOGY Fights Critics with 4000 DMCA Takedown Notices
[link to arstechnica.com]

Scientology fights critics with 4,000 DMCA takedown notices
By Nate Anderson | Published: September 08, 2008 - 12:12PM CT

A huge trove of critical videos of Scientology was targeted for takedown late last week by a group called American Rights Counsel. The group sent more than 4,000 DMCA takedown notices to YouTube and claimed that every video infringed on its copyrights, according to the EFF.

Those who take on the notoriously litigious "church" of Scientology—including groups like "Anonymous"—know what they're up against and are willing to take action to keep their messages up. It appears that most of the pulled content has been reinstated already after the various uploaders filed DMCA counter-notices asserting that the videos in question did not infringe copyright.

The targets of the takedown action included everything from Anonymous protest videos to Clearwater City Council hearings (Scientology has a major presence in Clearwater, Florida) to German and Canadian news reports. This led YouTube users to rant in public forums about the "abuse" of YouTube's takedown system by American Rights Counsel, which even went after user-created videos.

"YouTube, you need to REVIEW YOUR POLICY on copyright claims, the current system is far to [sic] susceptible to ABUSE," wrote ShadowVsScientology. "All you have to do to get a video taken down is make a claim and it is instantly pulled; this is WRONG, when a claim is made the person who uploaded the video should have a chance to respond BEFORE the video is removed, this stops people like the Cult of Scientology getting their way instantly. YouTube PLEASE sort this problem out and do not let Scientology control this website."

YouTube's takedown system is a product of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, not something of its own devising, and one weakness of the system is its potential abuse by rightsholders. Fortunately, the DMCA includes penalties for anyone who sends takedown notices in bad faith, and it also allows for the reinstatement on content with nothing more than a simple DMCA counter-notice.

The Church of Scientology isn't just under assault on YouTube. Earlier today, Agence France-Presse reported that the church would be put on trial in Paris for fraud. Earlier this summer, a number of the church's secret documents, including those that talk about the breakfast-cereal-sounding "Theetie Wheeties," were made public on Wikileaks.

And the church's battle with Anonymous continues, both online and off. Anonymous has long put out YouTube videos targeting the church and has engaged in real street protests, usually wearing the Guy Fawkes masks seen in the film V for Vendetta. In a new twist on this latter tactic, many group members will buy tickets for the opening of Katie Holmes' (wife of Scientologist Tom Cruise) new Broadway play next month and will sit in the audience, watching in silent judgment from behind their creepy masks.
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