Michael Crook apologizes to internet for DMCA abuse

Former DMCA abuser Michael Crook today apologizes to the entire internet for his takedown campaign and his attacks on free speech. BoingBoing was one of his targets.

We accept his apology, we applaud his change of heart, and we welcome him back from the dark side. [Update: Ah, bummer. Spoke too soon. See the comments below for news of Crook's latest evil deeds. Judging from material recently posted on Mr. Crook's various websites, it would appear he remains a racist, a holocaust denier, and an enemy of the same constitutional protections for free speech that allow him to promote homophobia, white supremacy, or any other beliefs others may find objectionable.]

Congratulations and huge respect to Jason Schultz and others at the Electronic Frontier Foundation for their hard work on this case, and for defending the rights of all of us online. Snip from the EFF's announcement:

Michael Crook, the man behind a string of meritless online copyright complaints, has agreed to withdraw those complaints, take a copyright law course, and apologize for interfering with the free speech rights of his targets.

The agreement settles a lawsuit against Crook filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on behalf of Jeff Diehl, the editor of the Internet magazine 10 Zen Monkeys. Diehl was forced to modify an article posted about Crook's behavior in a fake sex-ad scheme after Crook sent baseless Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices, claiming to be the copyright holder of an image used in the story. In fact, the image was from a Fox News program and legally used as part of commentary on Crook. But Crook repeated his claims and then attempted to use the same process to get the image removed from other websites reporting on his takedown campaign.

"Crook's legal threats interfered with legitimate debate about his controversial online behavior," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "Public figures must not be allowed to use bogus copyright claims to squelch speech."

In addition to withdrawing current complaints against Diehl and every other target of his takedown campaign and taking a copyright law course, Crook has also agreed to limit any future DMCA notices to works authored or photographed by himself or his wife, or where the copyright was specifically assigned to him. All future notices must also include a link to EFF information on his case, as well as the settlement agreement. Crook has also recorded a video statement to apologize and publicize the dangers of abusing copyright law.

Video Link for the video statement from Michael Crook. Link for more on Diehl v. Crook. EFF announcement link. 10ZenMonkeys has a post here.

Update, 757PM PT: Scott Beale has a post here.

(thanks, James Tyre, Jason Schultz, and Scott Beale!)

Reader comment: Maury Duchamp says,

unfortunately i don't think he's back from the dark side yet. among some of his other hateful views, he's still a holocaust denier.

and considering this video apology is something that was forced on him to settle a lawsuit, and not truly of his free will, i think there is very little to applaud yet.

Konrad in Amsterdam says,
Michael Crook is definitely not back from the dark side yet, as can be seen by his latest project, http://www.stopfairuse.info/.

Hi basic idea - copyright holders should be able to sue people if they quote a line of text .. seems like he did not digest the 10zenmonkeys counterattack. anyways see yourself.

Anonymous says,
He is supposedly an ordained minister, willing to do marriages, etc., but check out his terms.
Here's a snip from http://www.michaelcrook.biz/weddings.html:
Michael Crook can perform your wedding ceremony, as he is an ordained minister.

At this time, service is limited to Central NY state, and the below fees apply. Also, service will not be offered when the following applies: interracial or gay marriages (...)

bbum says,
You forgot homophobe. Crook calls Diehl Queer or Uber-Queer looking at least twice in his personal account of the conclusion of the DMCA case (http://www.michaelcrook.org/thedmcacase.html). Unrelated, Crook is also a Harry Potter film fan. Or, at least, a fan of the actress Emma Watson. He enthusiastically noted that she will be 17 and, thus, legal in the state of New York as of April 15th. Creep Factor 10. Must. Wash. Hands/Eyes. Now.
Anonymous says,
I kept following this Micheal Crook story with a certain fascination, and I found this little gem here, which shows how there is definitely NO returning from the dark side: Link.

I don't know, I just thought you might be interested to see his actual opinion, especially when he insults the EFF.

Related BB posts:
Michael Crook backs down on DMCA harassment
Michael Crook sends bogus DMCA takedown notice to BB
EFF Sues Michael Crook for Bogus DMCA Claims
RU Sirius show about EFF suit against Michael Crook
Ethan Ackerman schools us on DMCA and ISPs' obligations
Troublemakers enjoy harassing sites with bogus DMCA
EFF fights another DMCA abuser
HOWTO protect yourself from "The Craigslist Experiment"
The Seattle Craigslist sex scandal

Monty says,
This is yet another update to your MIchael Crook Section. You guys have pointed out that he's an ordained minister, but of what? Only the The First United Church of the Sofa! Who are they united under? Head Reverend Michael Crook! The man is a bottomless spring of weirdness.
Evan says,
Maybe I'm just focusing on the irreverent, but how come no one has mentioned the fact that the guy actually has a Hitler mustache in the video??