How did that all ever happen? The ultimate irony
It is, of course, bizarre to witness how a presumably anti-government (“libertarian” in US parlance) and anti-corporatist website would make use of a government law passed by the big business monopolies (the DMCA) to ask a corporation (in this case, Google) to enforce their interpretation of the “fair use” clause on a small one-man blog. Truly, “bizarro world” as Justin Raimondo likes to say, and it happened to me this week.
How did I ever get into this crazy situation?
In the beginning
When I began my blog I decided to completely ignore copyright issues. I figured that the big corporate guys (CS Monitor, AP, etc.) would not give a damn about a small-time personal blog, and that the smaller people would appreciate having their stuff picked up elsewhere. I did identify the author of the articles posted here by name and I embedded a link to the original articles in the author’s name, thus anyone clicking on the name would find the source and could follow-up the “trail”. I really did not do that for any legal consideration, but only to give credit where it was due. Besides, since I did not always agree with the articles I posted here (I often posted interesting, or provocative stuff, I did not agree with), it only made sense to make sure that nobody mistook somebody else’s opinion for mine.
I often emailed the original site with a link their articles re-posted on my blog just to let them know that I appreciated their stuff. In the six month since I began my blog, I never had a bad response, only thanks. And then, for the first time, I got this email from a guy I had never heard of telling me that I could only post 3 paragraphs and a link to the original Raimondo article about the PKK. It was signed “Eric Garris, Webmaster, Antiwar.com”.
I figured – “big deal, some webgeek is being anal about copyrights, surely the thinking guys at antiwar know nothing about this nonsense”. I was wrong. Turns out that what I assumed was a HTML-breathing intern was no less than the “Antiwar.com founder and managing director“, a man with an interesting pedigree which included a stint as a New Left activist and in the Peace and Freedom Party, before becoming a libertarian. Little did I know that I was having my first interaction with a “Neoliberal” who had once written these irenic words:
In the Internet we see our greatest hope for freedom and for the continual progress of humanity. In the Internet we see the anachronistic and obsolete institutions of society being pushed aside for a new dawn of better things. In the Internet we see the key to diminishing the power and status of the state and liberating ourselves from its oppression and deception.
(Eric Garris, The Internet vs. The State)
Still, I wrote back to him pointing him to the fair use notice I had put on my blog (bottom left) and telling him that I would henceforth add “for antiwar.com” right next to Raimondo’s name each time.
I was so sure that this would take care of that that I even posed another Raimondo piece (with the “enhanced” name credit) and I was prepared to go to bed happy that this silly nonsense was taken care of. Boy was I wrong!
I got back an angry email saying: “Your intention is clearly not “fair use,” it is attempted theft, without acknowledgement. Today, I filed the proper forms notifying Blogspot over copyright infringement, and I will follow up with one each time you do this“. Theft?! Had the guy missed the “by Justin Raimondo” at the top? Surely that loony would not actually try to sue me over this nonsense?
I sent the guy a reply telling him that 1) I did not make any money from my blog 2) that I could not claim any fame either (the blog being obvioulsy anonymous) 3) that there was a public good imperative which fully justified “fair use” (as is done by commondreams.org or informationclearinghouse, from which I had originally taken my “fair use” notice) and that 4) my intention was not “theft”, but to “stand up to the those who want to take away our freedoms and wage endless imperial wars”. I added,
“You can, of course, choose not to believe me and keep on believing that I am trying to “steal” something from you. I will say this – this is not my world, not how I function, not what I believe in, not how I live“
And then I went to bed naively hoping that my (presumed) fellow peacenick would come back to his senses. I was wrong again.
Barbarians at the gate
The next morning Blogspot informed me that a DMCA compaint had been filed against my blog. That was bad, but worse (for me) was the way Blogspot deal with such complaints. Basically, to cover themselves from legal action, Blogspot assumes that the complaint is valid and removes the “offending” post unless the accused blogger files a counter-claim. Since filing such a counter-claim requires the accused blogger to make a statement under penalty of perjury and since it would be folly to make any such statements without hiring a lawyer Blogspot’s policy was essentially “guilty until proven otherwise”.
Garris had written to me “the “fair use” opinion is a legal one that a court MAY apply, but it is not the default“. Now, with the full support of the fascist DMCA act and Blogspot’s “better safe than sorry” behind Garris, I either had the option to hire a lawyer to try to prove that the common practice of the Internet (again, commondreams or informationclearinghouse are good examples) and plain common sense suggest that antiwar.com was in no way damaged by my posting, or to have Blogspot or remove the articles in question myself.
Since I do not want to do any SOB the favor of doing his dirty work for him, and even though I had resolved by then to stop the blog anyway, I decided to let Garris do the removal “himself” (via Blogspot, of course).
In Dollars with Trust
Still, the situation had an unreal feel to it. Here was a prominent ex-Leftie acting like some MPAA executive while the rest of the “libertarian” crowd at antiwar.com watched in silence. Not only that, but it turns out that Blogspot’s “better safe than sorry” policy also included a “shoot them all” clause for repeat offenders which meant that enough complaints would result in my blog being killed once and for all. By then, knowing the psychological makeup of the type, I had no illusions whatsoever that Garris was willing to file complaints all day long if needed to protect Antiwar’s rights.
The thing is, the folks at Antiwar are not, unlike yours truly, volunteers. They are paid a salary for their work, and some, including Raimondo, get a full-time salary to write for them (I learned that from Garris’ emails who were all centered on the money issue). That, of course, put the entire issue in a totally different context: while I was a naive volunteer peacenik, the folks are Antiwar “professional revolutionaries” (to use Lenin’s expression) who made a living writing about peace and freedom. Nothing wrong with that, for sure, but not something I had encountered in past.
Antiwar had used hard-raised dollars to pay Raimondo for his work and I was “making use” of it (doesn’t matter for which purpose or cause) without paying a dime. Worse, some other websites might think that Raimondo was working for me. As the song Money says “I’m all right jack keep your hands off of my stack“. Now the “theft” accusation made some sense, at least in the context of professional freedom fighting.
A clash of civilizations? The guerrilla way
Ever since I “dropped out” from the imperial service after realizing the Big Lie that it was I had dealt only with idealists. European Linux hackers, pot-smoking squatters, anarchists (the real thing, not the “capitalist” substitute found, where else, in the USA), peaceniks, communists, anti-imperialist activists – in other words people who always donated their sweat, and sometimes their blood, without ever asking for anything for themselves. True believers, idealists, naive do-gooders – call them what you want, but these people only wanted one thing: to get the message out, to speak out about injustice, violence, abuses, exploitation and the propaganda which always protects evil.
One of my friends wrote to me in response to the Antiwar complaint:
Regarding money vs. principles . . . I’m an anti-capitalist. I also know that there are a lot of people who do without everything. Some because this is the situation the status quo has forced on them and others (like the guerrillas) because it’s a choice that is made to achieve something better. I follow the path of the guerrillas.
Since I had given up a very lucrative career, with plenty of recognition and power attached to it, in order not to lie, not to bow my head to Mammon and his minions in this world, I have always had a natural empathy for guerrillas, even when my own political blindness still made me think of them as my enemies. I suppose that even when I thought of them as adversaries I, in a way, felt like I was very much like them and that their idealism and example was at least partially responsible for my eventual refusal to serve my (now former) masters anymore.
Can their be a dialog between the guerrilla and the businessman? Sure – but only with an AK doing the talking, I suppose. I had no AK in this case, and Garris had the “corporate contractors” on his side. And we all know that might makes right, don’t we?
First lesson: never assume you are dealing with a sane, honorable, principled or otherwise decent person. Second lesson: in any concept which includes the word “capitalist” (such as anarcho-capitalism) this word totally outweighs any other word attached to it. Third: never underestimate the vindictiveness of a person who feels that his money is somehow being stolen from him. Fourth: you can only see who your true friends are when they are willing to stand up for you.
In regards to this last one, the past couple of days have been an eye opener for me. While bitterly disappointed in some, I have been deeply touched by the kind words of others. To the former I will say that I hope they can live with themselves. To the latter I will say this:
I still do not know what I will do with this blog, but I am leaning towards restarting it in some other form. One thing is for sure, I will not post any articles taken from American websites, no matter how noble and dedicated their names might sound. I am leaning towards a mix of external articles from the Middle-East (or any other region of the world were US imperialism goes on its usual rampage) and original contents: my own interviews and analyses. I will post no more articles from sources based in the USA. There is simply no way I want to go through another “Antiwar.com episode” again – let them Yankees keep their copyrighted materials and let me keep my peace.
While I initially leaned against it, your emails have convinced me to remove the “offending” articles myself. I can thereby preserve the title and the comments. Besides, the blank space and notice below will, in a way, be more informative than the original article anyway.
I will end this long explanation which I felt I owed you all with a request: please email me your “want” and “do not want” ideas for the future of this blog. Let there come some good from all this and help me make this a better blog. I promise to answer each and every email sent to me.
Kind regards, best wishes and my most sincere thanks to all of you,
PS: FYI – also check out “Ignorance, Exceptionalism, Hyprocrisy” by Mizgin in which she outlines her take on this uninspiring story.
PPS: You want to find out for yourself whether Justin Raimondo or Mizgin is right about Washington’s position towards the PKK? Check out this BBC report.
Wow, what an eye opener, thank you for this. I’m reading and writing this on the road, will check back later.
have a safe trip, dear friend, and stay in touch
I don’t agree with what Eric did, but as for some of Mizgin’s comments……
I was looking on the other site of Mizgin, she says that Raimondo is being anti-semetic for talking about what the Israeli’s are doing to the Palestindians, but not talking about the Turkish coup that killed and tortured many people.
Huh? That doesn’t make sense.
What I would like to know is why there seems to be a strong connection between some members of Israel, U.S. and Turkey, with weapons sales, drugs etc. as what Sibel Edmonds has found out.
Mizgin (in one of her other posts linked in the one you linked to)also seems to downplay that Israel could ever be the ones training the PKK, as they just don’t have the ability. This seems laughable, they don’t have the ability?
Here is an old BBC story:
I think Israel is looking to support nationalist, ethnic revolutions in the surrounding middle area, in order to lay more credibility to the state of Israel, which is a rascist state.
Why else did you have so many neo-conservatives wanting to break up Iraq? They knew it would fall into ethnic sectarianism. And I even doubt how much this was a reality.
If you talk to many Sunni and Shiite that were from or in Iraq, they will tell you they were quite well integrated, and it would be almost like the Protestants and the Catholics fighting in the U.S.
They married each other, they lived next door to each other.
God only knows, there is so much crap. Who knows who to believe unless you are there? And then who still knows. It would not surprise me if the sectarianism was spearheaded along by special-ops from private contractors, and U.S., Israel and Britian.
I had noticed that nobody mentions how the US were supporting the Turks against the Kurds and at the same time the Kurds against Saddam and Iran.
I’ll miss your view on things. Let me know when you’re back.
This makes me glad I never sent them any of my hard-earned money. One more reason to hate Libertarians…
Also I emailed this post to GI Special, an email digest that’s put out daily by Thomas Barton, founding member of the Vietnam GI newspaper who helped me with Traveling Soldier. GI Special reaches hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people daily as well as troops serving in Iraq. GI Spec has also been harassed over this copyright infringement bullshit and been forced to move its archive of issues from one server to another.
At least your case will get some exposure in the broader anti-war movement and these libertarians will have less credibility than they do now.
Lastly, anything written on my blog you can use, provided that it was written by me. I almost never post stuff written by others (except sometimes when emails come to GI Special from soldiers in Iraq), to avoid this crap mostly.
binh – thanks for your posts. could you please send me your email at [email protected]?
I call bullshit.
The problem with the lawsuit happy American society is that it makes us, Americans pussies – we are afraid.
Afraid to look at somebody funny, afraid to write an article that is controversial, afraid to appear different than our peers even…
Which results in SELF CENSORSHIP.
Here is the law:
One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of “fair use.” Although fair use was not mentioned in the previous copyright law, the doctrine has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years. This doctrine has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.
Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The problem is number 4 – they can claim that even though you are not making any money off of it, it affects them because why go to antiwar.com when people can read the article on your site?
Number 3 is less important – what it simply means is that the more of an article you put in your blog, the more liable you are to be a target of a lawsuit.
Putting a whole article on your blog is a no no, EVEN though one could argue that it is for news and educational purposes
oh and the Turkey and Israel angle – they are allies, and the Israeli govt very much supports Turkey.
goodness sake, it is all on wikipedia:
I come to this late having followed a link from your latest post’s comments.
I do not know if you have shifted your opinion and practice sine this incident but I would like to share my experience of the same process.
I publish material submitted by site members. I have a clear copyright policy and have short shrift with people who appropriate other people’s word as their own.
In truth I would probably be inclined more toward the perspective of Antiwar than yourself in this context.
However, the DMCA is a poor and unfair instrument and for just the reasons you noted. However, you were, in my opinion, wrong to not dispute the DMCA claim.
You are correct that you have to make a declaration in respect of perjury. However ‘fair use’ is not a concept set in stone and you had made significant efforts to credit the source AND you believed that you were covered by the concepts of fair use as evidenced by what you see around you. The DMCA was being used in a discriminatory way.
Google’s perspective is reasonable and I do not argue with it. They have no responsibility for your battles or the cost that might accrue to them.
So, here’s the meat of the thing.
If YOU believe that you were not in the wrong then YOU should make a counter claim. At the point at which you make that counter claim AntiWar must make a choice. Do THEY want to instigate a process that will almost certainly bring them no reward and for which they must be the first to lawyer up and thus become responsible for in a money sense.
That is now my policy. When I receive a DMCA notification my first action is to remove the content from my site. My second is to notify my hosts legal department of this and to also note that I will be filing a counter claim. My third step is to generate the counter claim, electronically sign it and send it back to the claimant, copied, of course to the host.
The claimant has then 10 working days to respond. If they do not the content goes back up. So far, over many years we have not had a response to our counter claims.
Basic info about DMCA take-down and counter claim procedure: http://www.crucialp.com/resources/tutorials/web-hosting/how-to-file-dmca-counter-claim.php
Oh, always check the claim itself. Very often the claim is not made in the correct manner and would thus fail on that ground in any event. So make sure they got the deets correct and if not that error becomes the basis of the counter claim. ;)
And no, I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice but people need to feel able to defend themselves.
Thanks for this eye-opening article on the behavior of antiwar.com.
Antiwar led the charge against Syria from early days, in its ‘news’ section, which I think makes it clear to whom they are ultimately beholden.
I have been a long time reader of Antiwar and I have lately started realizing a bit of a slant there.
I found your site just about 3 days ago – and I have already spent more than 30 hours reading your articles.
Please do keep up the good work. There are very few honest people around and through what I have read on your site, I think you are one of the few.
Thanks and Good Luck
OK, I got here from your published book, and not the digital version. I like real books, not virtual ones.
There is something not quite right about Antiwar.com. I once followed Justin Raimondo on Twitter because I admired Antiwar.com, and was surprised to find sometime later that he followed me back (wow, was I flattered, a nobody like me with a Libertarian star follower on Twitter), but then right away he unfollowed me. OK, I can accept that, some kind of a mistake on his part that was quickly corrected. But then, not once, but twice but repeated this strange little Twitter dance over the course of a few hours, following me, unfollowing me, following me, unfollowing me. Weird. I must have tweeted something admirable that on further consideration was despicable, but on further consideration, was remarkably admirable, but on further consideration was truly despicable, but on further consideration….etc etc.
I did occasionally contribute a little to antiwar.com prior to this strange event, but afterwards, I have not, and now I rarely bother even read it. I at one time believed they were doing something good. Now I think they are just plain weird.
As for your experience, that they didn’t want you promoting their exclusive material, well, how do we explain the fact that they often post what others have written on other sites? Are we supposed to believe they pay for the privilege? With all of their fund raisers, I doubt it. Their objection to your careful posting of their material, giving due credit, is counter-intuitive. They saw it as infringement, normal people would view it as free advertising. Go figure.
No more Antiwar for moi. What a Trump-like, masculinist bully.
Thanks for sharing your experience with Antiwar. While I read their articles, those are primarily collection of other news – rather than in depth analysis. In other words what you do Saker, is incomparably better than Antiwar.
Ditto DJoe’s comment! It explains a lot about antiwar’s behavior and its inexplicable treatment of my commentary there despite its congruency with article content. And thanks again for doing and providing, and for including the link to this essay in your one about the so-called altright.
Gotta say, I think you’re wrong on this one. It’s his intellectual property. You are not entitled to it out of some feeling that you are both fighting the good fight. He gets to set the rules on how his property is used. You don’t.
And if it’s how he makes his living, how he pays his rent, how he feeds his family – as opposed to a hobby blog- obviously financial considerations are going to have some weight.
I myself had a go round with Herr Garris: after noticing that he seemed to be giving equal time to Armenian Genocide recognition and Turkish denial of it at the same time, I confronted him about it and asked him to support only the documented and proven act of Genocide committed by the young Turk government against it’s Armenian citizens from 1915-1922. He was smug, arrogant, indifferent and worst of all in denial that he was supporting both sides. I promised him that I would never give him another dime and was also shocked that such a noble titled website was indeed being run by a putz. ps. I commend you for your literary courage and regularly tune in to your writings.
Dear Saker, I much appreciate your postings. They are generally to the point and informative. I comment on your posting of 2016 (?) regarding your motivation to create your blog which included the story o9f your encounter with “Anti-War”. I’ve been in a number of left movement beginning with Congress on Racial Equality and Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s. I didn’t know who was running the organization or where the money was coming from. Later I discovered that CORE was created and funded by the Rockefellers, but I never knew who funded SDS.
Yet I learned that many groups and individuals seem “to say all the right things” but every once in a while they do or say something that is inconsistent or drastically adverse to their professed beliefs. Then you know that person has an agenda different from that avowed by the organization.
I first met Noam Chomsky in 1970 or 71, as we were both vacationing in Cape Cod and met over a beach fire. He questioned me for over an hour, at which time I became rather uncomfortable. I later told this to an academic acquaintance who explained that he was profiling me to find not only what I thought but how I thought.
I had not heard of Chomsky for many years since but saw him of TV several times speaking to student audiences. He was notably vague about what to do. Later Diana Johnstone recalls Chomsky being congratulated for his role in the NATO destruction of Lybia. Then I knew who he was. In fact, the intelligence boys have infiltrated or created thousands of radical organizations and cults to suck in and control dissidents.I p[resume, because of your background, you will stay clear of those sorts.