WordPress has gone to bat for its users in court, joining in two lawsuits over fraudulent DMCA claims that used copyright claims as a means of censoring critics. Back in August, a British anti-gay group called Straight Pride UK used a copyright claim to censor the publication of an on-the-record interview with one of the group's spokesmen. And in February, disgraced cancer researcher Anil Potti used copyright claims to censor Retraction Watch, a science watchdog that had reported on the journals that retracted Potti's papers.
Wordpress was the host for both of these sites, and at the time, it cooperated with the takedowns (the law does not require WordPress to honor takedowns that it deems to be bogus, but if it does not honor a takedown, it can be named as a party to any eventual lawsuit over the alleged infringement). But when the users went to court to fight for their right to publish, WordPress got their backs — bravo!
These cases are both infuriating and increasingly common. While there are no legal consequences (like fines) under the DMCA for copyright abusers, there is a provision that allows victims of censorship (and their web hosts) to bring legal action against those who submit fraudulent DMCA notices. So today, we've joined with Oliver, Ivan, and Adam to take a small strike back at DMCA abuse. We've filed two lawsuits for damages under Section 512(f) of the DMCA, which allows for suits against those who "knowingly materially misrepresent" a case of copyright infringement.
Until there are some teeth to the copyright laws, it's up to us – websites and users, together – to stand up to DMCA fraud and protect freedom of expression. Through these suits, we'd like to remind our users that we're doing all we can to combat DMCA abuse on WordPress.com….and most importantly, remind copyright abusers to think twice before submitting fraudulent takedown notices. We'll be watching, and are ready to fight back.
We'll also be actively involved, on behalf of our users, in trying to change the law – both through court cases and in Congress – to make sure that everyone has the right to share their voice on the Internet without threat of censorship.