Bartholomew’s Blog Faces Pressure

Richard Bartholomew’s blog Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion is your go-to source for analysis of religious news, particularly of the right-wing extreme variety in his home country of Britain. Recently his blog had some down time as a result of an absurd copyright complaint from one of the subjects he follows. He tells the story from an alternate site – now down – and was picked up by Ed Brayton, TorrentFreak and BoingBoing:

Yesterday, my main site http://barthsnotes.com/ was taken down for about 12 hours. It is now back up, but with one entry missing, for 27 September 2012. This is due to a vexatious DMCA copyright infringement notice, made in bad faith by a man who wishes to suppress free discussion of his publicly-stated political views. The complaint concerned 16 words quoted from a Facebook discussion forum. Here’s the background.

A couple of weeks ago, I noted a typical piece of abuse by supposed “activist” Charlie Flowers. The context was the cancellation by Conway Hall in London of a planned debate between Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (“Tommy Robinson”) of the English Defence League and Abdullah Al Andalusi of the Muslim Debate Initiative. Searchlight magazine was among those critical of the decision to hold the debate, and the venue cancelled the booking to avoid protests. Flowers and Al Andalusi subsequently discussed the matter on Facebook…

Flowers proceeded to write some foul things about Searchlight on his Facebook page. Bartholomew quoted him in a post that is now only available in Google cache. Flowers lodged a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint with Bartholomew webhost, an American company called Dreamhost. The company seems to have capitulated without allowing Bartholomew a chance to respond.

I’ve given the Brits some grief over their heavy-handed libel laws. It appears that the American copyright laws, particularly the DMCA, are apt to have the same chilling effect. As Bartholomew puts it, “Who would have thought that having a webhost in the USA rather than the UK would actually come with a free speech disadvantage?” *wince*

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