DMCA, Please Go Away


R.U. Sirius's webzine 10 Zen Monkeys ran a Fox News screen shot of Internet annoyer ("griefer" is apparently what the kids are calling it these days, for people using the Web to cause others grief) Michael Crook, a copycat who puts up fake Craigslist ads soliciting reponses from all the pre-verts out there and then posts them on his own website; craigslist-perverts.org. (A similar stunt was first done by Jason Fortuny.) The links to Crook's other sites, including "Deny the Holocaust," on his perverts page, and his list of domain names he holds and is selling, including "theholocaustwasfake.com" and "myballshurt.net" and "stupidprick.info," are instructive and amusing as to what type of character we are dealing with here (though not in any other way).

Now Crook has used threats under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) to get one of 10 Zen Monkeys ISPs to delete the photo–although he is obviously not the copyright owner, and though the Monkeys crew maintains that the use of the screen shot is fair use even if he were.

He continued threatening them when they moved to another server (the excellent and hard-to-intimidate Laughingsquid.com) and the Zen Monkeys crew recruited the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to help them out in a civil suit against Crook for violating their free speech rights. Under the DMCA, ISPs have a safe haven against copyright violations if they remove them upon being warned; this is used by people like Crook to intimidate ISPs into chilling what should be legally protected communications.

As Boing-Boing discovered, even reporting on this can get you stupid and unfounded DMCA claims sent to your ISPs.

Here is the EFF's account of the suit.

Here is 10 Zen Monkeys own full account of the kerfuffle.

Mike Godwin in Reason way back in 2001 on why the DMCA is a threat to free expression.