The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was written by obtuse, witless, autocratic monkey people whose sole intention is to increase the profit of a few, while defiling and shredding John Adams’ dream of a nation full of natural liberties as spelled out in the United States Bill of Rights, including, above all, every citizen’s right to free speech and the spread of information.
The DMCA, for all you cave dwelling folk, is, of course, the act passed in 1998 that, among other things, outlaws CD ripping and MP3 sharing. Fine, whatever. If the music industry wants to increase their death-grip on the media and what you can listen to, contributing to their own problem by raising CD prices to ridiculous levels, that’s their business, I guess. But the latest use of the DMCA law is, to put it mildly, the most heinous act of asinine stupidity to come out since Olestra.
Here’s the scoop. Some kooky Norwegians decided to post an anti-Scientology Web site. The easiest way to find Web sites these days is to go to a search engine, such as Google, and type something like, “Idiots +Scientology +Techno-babble” and you’ll come up with a list of hits to visit. The Church of Scientology apparently didn’t like this Web site so they told Google to remove the links from their search engine. And Google did so, obligingly, because they had to (sort of), thanks to the DMCA.
There is a clause in the DMCA that while search companies do not have to actively pursue copyright violations, they do have to properly take down links or other items upon notification by the copyright holder or else lose their copyright infringement immunity and face the possibility of being sued. So, because the kooky Norwegians had posted Scientology publications (as fair use references, by the way), Google was forced to take down the links when the Church voiced their DMCA “rights.”
CNN reported Google saying, “If we do not follow this framework, we risk being sued … regardless of the merits of such a suit.”
This is sad.
Why is this sad? When the kooky Norwegians lost their Google link, they were, for all intents and purposes, censored. When the Church of Scientology evoked the all-powerful DMCA law to remove the site link, they set a precedent for all other people who don’t like parodies, criticism or any other negativity voiced against them. They may use the DMCA clause to remove links to these sites, and because of the mere threat of being sued, search companies must oblige, even if fair use laws have not been broken.
So what do we end up with? Threats of suing, not legal due process, determining the legality of an Internet site. This springboards into a mechanism for widespread censorship and the elimination of free speech.
Sounds great to me, folks.
Don’t like an Internet site making fun of you or simply disagreeing with you? Call on the DMCA! Combined with the American way of suing everything that moves and half the things that don’t, the DMCA will eliminate all enemies. Can’t pay legal fees? Don’t worry, the mere mention of the DMCA will make all would-be critics quake in their boots. Say goodbye to free speech and hello to global gag rule censorship!
It’s perfectly fine – John Adams’ dreams of freedom were stupid anyway.
Ken Hamner is a graduate student studying microbiology.