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Bogus anti-Scientology DMCA notices sent to YouTube linked to Wikipedia user


Cyndy Aleo-Carreira
8th September, 2008

YouTube may be rethinking their process for handling DMCA takedown notices this week, after receiving thousands of bogus notices alleging illegal content on the site.  According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), over a period of 12 hours, from Thursday night to Friday morning, YouTube received over 4000 notices, all for content critical of the Church of Scientology.

The notices were sent from an organization by the name of American Rights Counsel, LLC.  However, Scientology detractors associated with the group Anonymous noted that no such limited liability corporation exists in the U.S. and that the text of the takedown notices is virtually identical to previous efforts from Wikipedia contributor oschaper, thought to be someone named Oliver Schaper (oschaper on Wikipedia and message boards).  It's possible that this individual was behind the notices, also filed by another apparently non-existent entity called ContentFactory America.

YouTube has yet to comment on the issue, and many of the accounts and videos pulled over the weekend have now been restored after those affected filed counter claims.  However, the guilty-until-proven innocent method of dealing with notices like this may have to be re-evaluated.  While filing a false DMCA notice is a criminal offense, prosecution in these cases rarely comes about.

One of the most popular anti-Scientology channels, XenuTV, has been restored.  Videos, like this interview with former Scientologist and actor Jason Beghe, were created by (and therefore copyright was owned by) the posters of the content: