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DMCA Used For Censorship By 'Straight Pride UK'

Posted by: , 16:55 AEST, Sun August 18, 2013

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Controversial heterosexual rights group used the DMCA to censor their own response to questions
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Image/Photo Credit: Horia Varlan @ Flickr, CC

The controversial 'Straight Pride' group has been accused of using DMCA takedown threats to silence a reporter, who only posted responses to questions that the group had sent to him.

Straight Pride UK labels themselves as a heterosexual rights group, and claim that heterosexuals are being discriminated against due to the pro-homosexual agenda. "Homosexuals have more rights then [sic] any sector of society", the group claims.

Student and freelance journalist Oliver Hotham emailed Straight Pride UK with a list of questions hoping to find out more about the group, and the group responded with their answers in an document marked "press release".

Hotham noted that two questions he had asked "regarding the problem of the bullying of LGBTI youth and the nature of other "pride" movements" had not been answered, and sought further clarification. Hotham warned the group that if they did not respond soon enough, the entire Q&A would be published with the claim that the group avoided answering these two question.

When no response was forthcoming two days after the request, Hotham posted the full Q&A on his Wordpress blog, with the notice about the unanswered questions.

Soon after the article was published, and unhappy with the result, Straight Pride UK demanded Hotham remove the article using a DMCA takedown as a threat.

When Hotham refused to back down, the group carried out their threat and sent the notice to Wordpress's parent company Automattic, who promptly acted on the notice and took down the interview. Not satisfied with the result, Straight Pride UK also demanded Hotham to take down any and all materials related to the group, those uploaded in the past and for all time.

Having previously decided to accept the takedown, this latest request was the straw that broke the camel's back, and it prompted Hotham to reveal to the world the details of the whole incident. And this is when the Internet took over and made this a headline story.

The proceeding media storm later forced Wordpress owners Automattic to make a public statement on the matter, fully admitting that this incident was clearly an abuse of their DMCA system. "It's censorship using the DMCA," said Paul Sieminski, general counsel for Automattic.

Ironically, the removed interview only became widely circulated on the Internet after it had been pulled and copies started to be seeded by both anti-DMCA and gay rights proponents, ensuring the exact opposite for what Straight Pride UK had intended with the censorship efforts.


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