Striking Back Against Censorship

I stumbled across this article on It relevant to anyone with a WordPress blog, and also to the wider content producing internet at large. It’s good that are fighting our corner, for a freer Internet.

For those of you haven’t heard DMCA means that basically if you use copyrighted content (whether knowingly or not) on your blog, can be forced to take your pages down. The system is being abused by unscrupulous people. The system can also be abused by copyright owners, who don’t actually have to now prove legally that you were doing anything wrong, they just submit a DMCA.


So the bottom line is that the responsibility has shifted on to you, the content producers. If the copyright owner files a DMCA notice, your content will be taken down, whether you were breaking copyright or NOT. It would then be up to you to argue your case, and you would become personally liable after the DMCA, as would wash their hands of it. For most small blog owners the financial risk involved is just too great, so I’m afraid you’d just have to “lump it”.

I suggest that DMCA is really quite bad news for free internet, and a major victory/milestone in censorship and corporate control. I’m glad to see that is trying to do something positive about it.

From :

The mission of is to democratize publishing. We’re inspired every day by the ways creators use our platform to bring their voices to the world. Unfortunately, we also see many cases of censorship aimed at authors and users.

One area where we’ve seen a number of problems is the censoring of criticism through abuse of copyright law. Two recent cases of abuse really caught our attention and made us think that we needed to take action to fight back on behalf of our users and everyone who believes in the Internet’s promise for free expression.

Censorship by DMCA

A common form of censorship by copyright stems from improper use of legal creations called DMCA takedown notices. The DMCA stands for the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act”, which is a US federal law that created a system for protecting copyrights online. The DMCA system works pretty well, but has a few overlooked flaws that have made it too easy to abuse. Under the DMCA, companies, like Automattic, who publish user content cannot be held legally responsible for copyright infringement – so long as we follow a procedure to take down materials when we receive a notice from a copyright holder that something appearing on our platform allegedly infringes their copyrights. Every company that you use to share videos, pictures, and thoughts (from Google search to Facebook to Snapchat to relies on the DMCA to balance free expression with protection of copyright.

The DMCA system gives copyright holders a powerful and easy to use weapon: the unilateral right to issue a takedown notice that a website operator (like Automattic) must honor or risk legal liability. The system works so long as copyright owners use this power in good faith. But too often they don’t, and there should be clear legal consequences for those who choose to abuse the system.

We receive hundreds of DMCA notices and try our best to review, identify and push back on those we see as abusive. Our users have the right to challenge a DMCA complaint too, but doing so requires them to identify themselves and fill out a legally required form saying that they submit to being sued for copyright infringement in a place that may be far away. If they don’t, their content is taken down and could stay down forever. This tradeoff doesn’t work for the many anonymous bloggers that we host on, who speak out on sensitive issues like corporate or government corruption.

Standing with Users to Take Action

Given the legal landscape, it’s no wonder that we’ve seen an increased number of improper notices. The following two notices inspired us to take action to help bring some needed balance to the situation.

First: Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus are experienced science journalists who operateRetraction Watch, a site that highlights and tracks situations where published scientific papers may not be everything they seem. One reader apparently disagreed with a critique published on Retraction Watch – so he copied portions of the Retraction Watch site, claimed the work as his own and issued a DMCA takedown notice against the original authors.

Second: Oliver Hotham is a student journalist living in the UK. Oliver publishes investigative articles on his blog. The subject of one of his articles apparently had second thoughts about a press statement he gave to Oliver – so he turned to copyright law to censor Oliver’s site. Oliver’s account of that incident is here.

These cases are both infuriating and increasingly common. While there are no legal consequences (like fines) under the DMCA for copyright abusers, there is a provision that allows victims of censorship (and their web hosts) to bring legal action against those who submit fraudulent DMCA notices. So today, we’ve joined with Oliver, Ivan, and Adam to take a small strike back at DMCA abuse. We’ve filed two lawsuits for damages under Section 512(f) of the DMCA, which allows for suits against those who “knowingly materially misrepresent” a case of copyright infringement.

Until there are some teeth to the copyright laws, it’s up to us – websites and users, together – to stand up to DMCA fraud and protect freedom of expression. Through these suits, we’d like to remind our users that we’re doing all we can to combat DMCA abuse on….and most importantly, remind copyright abusers to think twice before submitting fraudulent takedown notices. We’ll be watching, and are ready to fight back.

We’ll also be actively involved, on behalf of our users, in trying to change the law – both through court cases and in Congress – to make sure that everyone has the right to share their voice on the Internet without threat of censorship.

Read Retraction Watch’s thoughts on our lawsuit here.

Full text of complaint in the Oliver Hotham case here.  Full text of complaint in the Retraction Watch case here.

BY Paul Sieminski, (Verbatim) from

UPDATE 1-Dec-2013, Whilst on Gordon’s site I found this, which is a free copyrighting service, some of you may find useful:)

Resources & Sources

Image, Wikipedia –

17 thoughts on “Striking Back Against Censorship

  1. I have never understood the need for people to belittle another’s work because they disagree or dislike it. Just like I have never understood the need for someone to take a life. When someone forces their views on another by shutting down their site, you are essentially killing that persons livelihood. You become the criminal that the persecuted person never was.

    1. There’s multiple issues here, why my post is largely a quote.

      Not that I advocate it, but as for belittling another’s work, isn’t that just the gossip factory wheels in motion ? Or at least the same driving forces ?

      As for taking a life, I agree that there is extremely rarely a need. However in cases of self-defence or defence of loved ones, I don’t feel the same way. Life and liberty are conditional on behaving like a normal prudent reasonably virtuous person would, not a dangerous, violent person with poor moral compass.

      And lastly, it’s an excellent point where I think the expression is “The Pot Calling The Kettle Black”, or “Six of one, and half a dozen of the other”. I don’t know a better way of explaining it, there is probably a term for it, that I wish I knew !

      Warm regards


  2. Scary, that someone who doesn’t like what you have written could claim the works as their own. I think I’m going to have to ensure that I always quote sources and pre-write all my entries as Word documents first. Sheesh!

    1. You could email them to me if you want a verifier, but your gnome might be able to do that for you? Did you get around to re-painting ?

      Sheesh is right – “forewarned is forearmed”. Google says it’s an “idiom” and I think that’s the correct way to say it.

      1. Looks interesting. I wonder how it would work though.
        Right now, I put a copyright signature on a lot of my photos and digital art but I know that anyone competent in photoshop can get rid of them. 😦

      2. It’s a step in the right direction … for images you could watermark them but then that detracts a little from the photo ?

        Also reduce the image in size/quality in Photoshop, but again that detracts from the quality 😦

      1. Yes it’s good to see, hopefully it’s genuine and not a token gesture … as for respect couldn’t agree more, but sadly not all people are as virtuous as you and I … cheers DC

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