August 15, 2012

Atheists Using DMCA Complaints to Silence Other Atheists

SilenceJust when I think that the door can finally be closed on the freethought bullies saga, something happens that makes me realize that it is not going away anytime soon. An atheist blogger (Justin Vacula) who has been critical of a few of those writing for Freethought Blogs and Skepchick has been hit with a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint, prompting Blogger to automatically remove one of his posts. In addition, a YouTube user (girlwriteswhat) critical of Freethought Blogs has received two DMCA complaints that will force her to reveal her identity to those complaining or lose her account (see video).

I know how this looks, but I am not ready to claim that someone writing for Freethought Blogs or Skepchick has filed these DMCA complaints. The complaints may have originated with an extremely misguided supporter or two. And yet, their impact is clear: those who disagree with these bloggers are being silenced.

Regardless of what you or I may think of the Freethought Blogs community or Skepchick, I think we can agree that using the DMCA in this manner is potentially devastating to the online atheist community. MikeTheInfidel has effectively explained why Google's approach to DMCA complaints is problematic. Clearly, Google needs to develop a better way of handling this process. In the meantime, we need to make it clear to everyone in our community that this is an unacceptable way to resolve our conflicts.

Update: The source of the DMCA complaints has been revealed by one of the recipients.

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