You may have noticed that the C4SS website is down (or possibly, by the time you read this, redirecting). Here’s the story.
The Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS) has an associated student group, Students for a Stateless Society (S4SS), with affiliates around the world. A couple of weeks ago, S4SS noticed that its affiliate at the University of Ghent in Belgium (S4SS UGent) was being taken over by racists and Islamophobic bigots, so it issued a public statement disaffiliating with the group, and explained why. The explanation included quotations from bigoted comments made on the S4SS UGent facebook page – a page that was public at the time, though it has since been made private. C4SS then put up a link to the S4SS statement.
One of the racists quoted in the statement, a certain Olivier Janssens, demanded that the notice be taken down, alleging that a) his comments were copyrighted and shouldn’t be quoted without his consent, and b) his privacy was violated, and personal safety threatened, since we had made public his comments from a private forum. Since we judged that explaining the disaffiliation, and warning potential comrades against Janssens and his entryist colleagues, created a fair-use context for the quotations – and since, contrary to Janssens’s assertions, the forum in which the comments were made was actually public at the time he made them – we declined his request (with some asperity).
Apparently unaware of the concept of the “Streisand Effect,” Janssens engaged a lawyer – one who publicly brags about the ease of using flimsy DMCA claims to intimidate web hosts into compliance – who thereupon used a flimsy DMCA claim to intimidate C4SS/S4SS’s web host into compliance, and both the C4SS and S4SS websites were shut down.Read the rest here. Jesse Walker of Reason reports here. See also techdirt.