October 27, 2020

Copyright As Censorship: Gun Rights Advocate Gets Video Taken Down With Bogus Copyright Claim

I still laugh when I remember a copyright maximalist think tanker insisting that copyright could never be used for censorship, because “copyright holders are champions of the First Amendment” and “have no reason to censor anything.” Of course, for years, we’ve documented over and over and over again how copyright is regularly used as a tool for censorship. And now we’ve got another example. And however you feel about the 2nd amendment or gun advocacy, hopefully you can agree that it’s a problem for the 1st amendment when someone — no matter what their political viewpoints — abuses false copyright claims to take down videos they dislike.

Last week, a Twitter user posted a short 13 second video of Kaitlin Bennett, a sort of social media troll play acting as a gun rights activist/journalist (who has been reasonably criticized for questionable journalism practices), who does outrageous stunts to get more attention. In the video, Bennett first insults a woman’s weight, which makes the woman reasonably angry at Bennett. Bennett responds by implying to the woman that she has a gun, and when the woman starts to calm down, Bennett suggests that her carrying a weapon was what “deterred” further escalation.

No matter what you think of the video, the user who had posted it (who was critical of Bennett) soon was informed by Twitter that a DMCA takedown notice was filed against the video, which Twitter removed:

@KaitMarieox was too much of a coward to respond because she knew she fucked up. she reported my video and got it taken down. @twitter fix this. now. pic.twitter.com/wF88px0ApB

— kelli | psycho? (@yumyerim) January 20, 2020

While Twitter did eventually re-enable the video, it does show yet another example of how copyright can and is used to try to take down non-infringing works. This is why we keep raising concerns about further expansions of copyright’s power to censor. When you provide any tool that enables quick censorship, it will be used for such purposes. Even if Twitter eventually relented and put the video back up, the initial suppression of speech, by use of a legal tool, is still suppression of speech.
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