Jeff Vinall, a Conservative Party activist who is director of communications for the Oxford University Tories and is a second year law student at Brasenose College has abused the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act to censor a website that reproduced a posting from his Facebook account in which he called Nelson Mandela a "terrorist," shortly after Mandela's death.
Vinall sent a DMCA takedown notice to the hosts of the UK-based website Political Scrapbook after an initial demand to censor their reporting was declined. The DMCA is an American statute and notices issued under it have no standing in the United Kingdom; furthermore, it's clear that the brief quotation from Vinall qualifies as fair use under the American copyright law and fair dealing under English and Welsh copyright law.
In my opinion, Vinall is trying to have his cake and eat it too. I think he believes that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist, but he also believes that saying this aloud brings him and the party into disrepute. At the same time, I think he believes that repudiating his tasteless remarks will alienate a sizable number of Conservative supporters who also hated Mandela and cheered his death -- so using bullying, censorious tactics to suppress the reporting of his remarks is way for him to suppress news of the remarks without having to issue an insincere apology through gritted teeth that would disgust the party's reactionary wing.
However, the Streisand Effect is in full effect; The Oxford Tab has picked up the story and reproduced Vinall's remarks. They have spoken to Apartheid refugees, who expressed shock and horror at Vinall's callous remarks and his willingness to take the side of the totalitarian monsters who branded Mandela a terrorist and imprisoned him for a quarter-century.
The claims have upset some members of OUCA, with one South African member commenting to The Tab: “My family were removed from their homes due to the racist policies during Apartheid – calling Mandela a terrorist is not only deeply personally offensive, but it is also worrying that such a person is a candidate in an OUCA election.”
A student at Wadham, which ends every bop with “Free Nelson Mandela”, said to The Tab: “Wadham had historic close ties with Nelson Mandela, and I’m shocked that anyone could call him a terrorist. Mandela was a great man, and should be remembered as such.”
One senior member of OUCA commented to the Tab: “I have grave concerns about some of Jeff’s behaviour, he needs to understand that OUCA has to rapidly change if it’s ever going to be a proper Conservative society and not just a bunch of oddballs with unsavoury opinions.”
Jeff Vinall tries to gag Scrapbook after 'Mandela terrorist' claim [Political Scrapbook]
(Image: Jeff Vinall's Facebook update, used for critical and commentary purposes, without permission, as fair dealing [England/Wales] and fair use [USA])