Back when Yoko Ono was suing the makers of Expelled over their use of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” the Discovery Institute was a hotbed of copyfighters. Disco. DJ Bruce Chapman called Ono a “censor” and pitched it as a battle for free speech. Chapman complains about an Ars.Technica post which rightly notes that “intelligent design is not a scientific theory so much as an attempt to create the appearance of controversy using flashy PR tactics,” and that Expelled “greatly exaggerates the persecution of intelligent design advocates”:
Notice the way the writer feels obliged to abuse free speech?by misrepresenting intelligent design?even as he defends it. We still do have free speech protections in America, but we also have the right to tie up opponents in tactical lawsuits, which is just what Yoko Ono did at a crucial point in the screening of Expelled.?
The spirit of authoritarian censorship is all over the cultural left these days. These were the same people who opposed authority back in the 60s, weren’t they?people like John Lennon and Yoko Ono? “Imagine”!
I note only in passing that Ars basically agrees with Chapman’s broader point, calling it “unfortunate that Lennon’s heirs sought to use copyright law to squelch criticism of Lennon’s lyrics. No matter how dishonest Stein and company’s arguments may be, they have the right to make them, and copyright must give way to the First Amendment.”
These days, though, the shoe is on the other foot. Youtubers critical of Disco. are getting takedown notices, having their Disco-averse videos pulled over claims of copyright violation. Precisely what the supposed violation is remains ambiguous, but the most famous such video is a critique of Disco. hustler Casey Luskin’s appearance on Fox News. Early speculation was that Casey might be claiming that he controlled the copyright of his own image on Fox. Casey denies that, and denies sending the takedown letters, but refuses to clarify why the takedowns were sent in any event.
In a recent expansion of the Youtube fight, vlogger qdragon1337 called Casey and tried to get the whole story. Casey initially claimed that the caller’s account of events was erroneous, but could only justify the claim by saying that other people’s reporting on the incident, not qdragon1337’s, was inaccurate. He refused to clarify, then threatened legal consequences if the call was recorded. Unfortunately for Casey, qdragon1337 lives in Canada, where (unlike Luskin’s Washington state) only one party to a phone call needs to give permission for the call to be recorded.
In any event, this is hardly the tough talk about freedom of speech and the horrors of tactical lawsuits we were hearing from the shining lights of Disco. only a year ago. I’m told that the creator of the video which kicked this all off is standing firm, and hopefully the Disco. dancers will clarify matters.