The website http://itsnotthetimes.com, a spoof of the New York Times that exposes the U.S. media’s biased coverage of the Palestinian rights issue, is again live on May First servers.
The website, sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace (a U.S.-based member of May First/People Link) and Jews Say No!, was wiped off the Internet earlier this week when lawyers for the Times sent Dreamhost, which was hosting the site, a spurious DMCA copyright violation notification.
Such notifications, under the U.S. Digital Millenium Copyright Act, stipulate extremely high penalties for webhosting companies and other providers if a customer is found by a court to be in violation of copyright laws. The company can avoid any action against it by simply removing the website upon receipt of the notification.
Despite clear case law demonstrating that political satire is protected free speech and does not constitute a copyright violation, the DMCA law is frequently used by corporations to silence critical political speech.
The DMCA law is extremely controversial among Internet professionals and activists because it effectively punishes people who insist on due process (such as a court hearing) to protect their right to speech. The law’s “take- down provision” is considered unconstitutional and repressive by many in the Internet community.
Most webhosting companies, however, comply with all DMCA complaints rather than face court action, costly lawyer fees and potentially huge fines if a court determines that the copyright has been violated.
As a matter of policy, May First/People Link resists such DMCA take-down orders. Jewish Voices for Peace decided to use May First servers, to which they have access as members, when Dreamhost took its action.
“We have always held that the DMCA is an atrocious assault on the First Amendment, due process and the very concept of free speech and vigorous debate,” Alfredo Lopez, spokesperson for May First/People Link said. “We’ve been resisting it since we received our first take down notice in 2008. Any invocation of copyright violation in this situation completely ignore the truth of that website: that it is a satirical website making a critically important point that is too seldom heard in our media. Not only do Jewish Voices for Peace have the right to make that point but, given current circumstances, it’s critical that the point be made and highly significant that it is being made by Jews. The constitution exists to protect these rights to expression and May First exists to make sure the Internet reflects that constitutional vision.”