BOGUS 'PSYCHIC' URI GELLER
CENSORS YOUTUBE CRITIC
From the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
[May 19, 2007]
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
has filed suit against Uri Geller -- the "paranormalist" famous for seemingly
bending spoons with his mind -- on behalf of a YouTube critic who was silenced
by Geller's baseless copyright claims.
EFF's client, Brian
Sapient, belongs to a group called the Rational
Response Squad, which is dedicated to debunking what it calls irrational
beliefs. As part of their mission, Sapient and others post videos
to YouTube that they say demonstrate this irrationality.
book at Amazon.com.
the videos that Sapient uploaded came from a NOVA program called Secrets of the Psychics, which
challenges the performance techniques of Geller.
the fact that only three seconds of the over thirteen-minute video contain
footage allegedly under copyright owned by Geller's corporation Explorogist
Ltd. -- a classic fair use of the material for criticism purposes -- Geller
filed a takedown demand with YouTube under the Digital Millennium Copyright
That violates the DMCA requirement that copyright holders only
takedown notices for infringing content.
may not like it when people question his paranormal abilities. However,
he is not allowed to stifle public criticism by misusing the law," said
EFF staff attorney Marcia Hoffman. "If the publication of a video does not infringe his copyright, then he
cannot block its use -- it's as simple as that."
of Geller's unlawful DMCA notice, Sapient's YouTube account was suspended,
and his videos were not available for over two weeks. In the lawsuit
filed Tuesday, EFF asks for damages due to Geller's violation of the DMCA,
a declaratory judgment that the NOVA video does not infringe Geller's copyrights,
and that Geller be restrained from bringing any further legal action against
Sapient in connection to the clip.
"We've seen a rash of people abusing the DMCA lately, attempting to take
down legitimate criticism and commentary online," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason
Schultz. "To allow thin-skinned public figures like Uri Geller
to abuse this system forces critics to remain silent and creates unfair
hurdles for free speech to thrive online."
This lawsuit is part of EFF's ongoing work to protect online free speech
in the face of bogus copyright claims.
EFF is currently working with
Stanford's Fair Use Project to develop a set of "best practices" for proper
DMCA takedowns. At EFF's suggestion, media giant Viacom set up an
email "hotline" to help users who believe their videos have been improperly
ensnared in a takedown campaign.
Copyright 2007 by WeeklyUniverse.com.
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