RED HERRING, The Business Of Technology
Google, YouTube Video Challenge
Rights group attacks self-help group’s Google and YouTube ‘cult’ video demands.
October 31, 2006
An international self-help organization has subpoenaed YouTube and Google Video for the identity of the individuals who uploaded a French-made video that the group believes infringes its U.S. copyright, and that subpoena is being challenged by a U.S. digital rights group.
The case revolves around a French documentary that portrays the Landmark Forum, an international educational group, as a cult, a portrayal the group sees as damaging.
The documentary, entitled Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus, includes hidden camera footage purportedly from inside a Landmark Forum event in France, as well as from inside the Landmark offices in France.
The forum charges that the documentary also includes material from its manual, which the organization said is protected by U.S. copyright law, so when the documentary showed up on YouTube, Google Video, and Internet Archive, the San Francisco-based Forum sprang into action.
The organization subpoenaed the three web sites hosting the video for the identities of the uploaders.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based digital rights organization challenging the subpoenas, the forum has the right to subpoena the material without a lawsuit under the rules of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Free Speech Masquerade
But the EFF sees this as a free speech case masquerading as a copyright infringement case.
“This is a classic example of using a bogus copyright claim to squelch free speech,” EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry said in a statement.
“To the extent that the documentary uses any Landmark material, that use is clearly non-infringing,” she added. “Landmark is simply trying to use the streamlined DMCA subpoena process to obtain the identities of its critics.”
Google is challenging the subpoena issued to Google Video. The search king, which is in the process of acquiring YouTube, refused to provide the uploader’s identification pending a ruling on its challenge.
According to the EFF, YouTube notified the user of the subpoena and is giving the user the option of legally challenging the subpoena.
“Sharing videos on the web is the latest example of free speech flowering on the Internet,” EFF staff attorney Kurt Opsahl said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, it is being met by a simultaneous rise in the use of baseless legal claims as an excuse to pierce anonymity and chill speech,” he said. “This kind of intimidation has to stop.”
U.S. law has to find accommodations for online video as the technology grows in popularity, according to Roger Kay, principal analyst of Wayland, Massachusetts-based Endpoint Technologies Associates. Copyright is only the first such issue, but gradually issues of free speech and privacy are starting to emerge, sometimes in conjunction with copyright.
“Copyright is usually a compensation and commercial protection issue, not exclusively a means of preventing others from saying something about you,” said Mr. Kay. “In most cases content owners want to get paid. Google should be quite familiar with copyright and payment.”
EFF is also challenging the forum’s assertion that the video contains the organization’s manual.
“It is a news documentary critical of the Landmark organization in France,” the EFF’s research said. “Moreover, even if Landmark’s copyrighted works were visible in the documentary, any such limited and transformative use of a copyrighted work for purpose of criticism, commentary, and news reporting is self-evidently fair use and, therefore, non-infringing.”
Contact the writer: CMedford@RedHerring.com
I believe this is a superb example of a new culture shift beginning to be felt.. the enabling technologies like YouTube's video servers, are radically changing power dynamics between "closed systems" and the public domain... Landmark's gigantic conceptual error is that this is nothing more than a series of local brushfires that have to be stamped out before they spread, when in fact it is a wholesale paradigm shift in HOW a culture operates... which is supremely IRONIC as Werner "Fearless Leader and Godlike One" Erhard was incessantly harping on the power of...... shifts ! There was this great shift coming, you see... Well, Mr. Erhard, at long last you've got your shift....
And concerning the new "shift", what would happen if Google/You Tube had to give Landmark the "identiy" of the user anyway. Wouldn't this just be a random email address? What, are they going to sue an email address?
DMCA Subpoenas Should Not Be Abused to Silence Speech.
The much maligned Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allows a copyright holders to unmask an Internet user's identity based on a mere allegation of infringement without filing an actual lawsuit or providing the user any due process. DMCA 512(h) is troubling enough when used in cases of actual infringement, but even more troubling when used to stifle critical speech -- and far worse when the content at issue is about the subpoena-seekers, not by them.
Today, EFF announced that it is fighting back against Landmark Education's attempts to abuse DMCA subpoenas to Google Video, YouTube and the Internet Archive to identify people who posted a video documentary critical of the organization.
The French documentary, entitled Voyage Au Pays Des Nouveaux Gourous (Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus), is not copyrighted by Landmark, but it does contain hidden camera footage from inside the Landmark Forum. To the extent that Landmark has any copyright at all at issue, such limited and transformative use of a copyrighted work for purpose of criticism, commentary, and news reporting is self-evidently fair use. While Landmark may believe that the documentary is unfair (as asserted in its letters), the DMCA is not an appropriate way to identify critics.
Landmark's efforts are being challenged on multiple fronts. The Internet Archive is fighting its subpoena, and EFF filed official objections on its behalf. EFF will also file a motion to quash the subpoena issued to Google Video, on behalf of the anonymous speaker who uploaded the video. Google has advised Landmark that it will not produce the requested information pending a ruling on that motion. YouTube sent notification to the user about its subpoena, and is giving the user a reasonable opportunity to move to quash it.
The video is also available on the French video site, Daily Motion. It is unclear whether Landmark has sought identity information from Daily Motion.
You might recall that EFF helped Verizon successfully limit the scope of DMCA 512(h) when the RIAA attempted to attain the identities of P2P file sharing users. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the provision doesn't apply to content residing on individuals' own computers. But 512(h) still does apply to content on an>even more reasons why substantive reform of this provision is necessary.
I'm curious to know if Rick Ross can read or write French?
An offshoot of the [b:a177d9b224]Scientology cult known as The Landmark Forum[/b:a177d9b224] is using the DMCA against YouTube, Google and The Internet Archive because of a scathing French documentary about Landmark being shared on those sites. It aired in France to 1.5 million people, a month later Landmark pulled out of France. Story at the EFF's site [eff.org] and other news sources.
The video with English subtitles is available via BitTorrent at PirateBay [thepiratebay.org], search eMule for "Inside Landmark Forum" or view it online at DailyMotion [dailymotion.com].