Alleged 'rights group' involved with removal of anti-Scientology videos from YouTube doesn't exist; says EFF

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On September 4 and 5, at least 4,000 anti-Scientology videos were removed from the video sharing website, YouTube. The videos removed were done so by a single Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice by an alleged 'rights group' called the American Rights Counsel LLC, which Wikinews has confirmed does not exist beyond the scope of those requests.

In an exclusive interview with Wikinews the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) acknowledged that they "don't know anything about" the Counsel and that any attempt to intentionally commit fraud by filing false DMCA requests, could lead to criminal charges.

"We don't know anything about this group. However, if these DMCA notices were sent improperly, there could be legal remedies. The particulars would depend on the particulars of the situation," Rebecca Jeschke, a spokeswoman for the EFF, told Wikinews.

The EFF first broke the story regarding the requests. YouTube received the notice all at once, in a single request. When Wikinews asked the EFF if they knew the names or links to the material in question, they stated that they do not know the names and that they have not seen the notice filed with YouTube.

According to Jeschk, the "EFF fights abuse of the DMCA. ..." but did not state where the EFF heard about the request.

"We have not seen the notices, merely heard about them [and] we don't know enough to know if the DMCA has been abused here. However, only copyright holders can issue DMCA takedowns," Jeschke said.

The EFF is investigating the incident, and it is not yet known who or what was behind the DMCA request. Some have speculated that the Counsel is a front for Scientology operated by a Dr. Oliver Schaper. In an exclusive interview with Wikinews, Schaper denied any involvement with the DMCA requests and also denied having any knowledge whatsoever of the Counsel.

"As many other people, and even members of the Church of Scientology received information about a company that removed anti-Scientology content from YouTube, shit hit the fan and members of Anonymous went on a full attack on me. I still have to this date no information about the American Rights Counsel and I have no connection, knowledge or involvement in this company which I have been informed of does not even exists," Schaper said.

Producer of XenuTV Mark Bunker defends Schaper and does not believe he is responsible. Bunker also believes that the Counsel is a fraud and called the DMCA requests a crime.

"I next did a Google search for American Rights Counsel LLC which brought up absolutely no results so clearly this was fraud from the beginning. I had never heard of Schaper before he was accused of this. I don't know anything about him other than he contacted me and said he was not involved. I don't know who was responsible. 4000 deletions in a matter of hours is a pretty major feat. It would be worth a subpoena to find out who committed this crime," Bunker said.

Currently the EFF does not represent any of the users or groups who were affected by the mass take-down.

 
This story has updates
 
See Anti-Scientology protest material removed from YouTube following threats of legal action
 


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