three more good reads

on censorship, netiquette, cyberbullying:

Striking Back Against Censorship (WordPress News, 2013-11-21)

The mission of WordPress.com is to democratize publishing. We’re inspired every day by the ways creators use our platform to bring their voices to the world. Unfortunately, we also see many cases of censorship aimed at WordPress.com authors and users.

One area where we’ve seen a number of problems is the censoring of criticism through abuse of copyright law. Two recent cases of abuse really caught our attention and made us think that we needed to take action to fight back on behalf of our users and everyone who believes in the Internet’s promise for free expression.

A common form of censorship by copyright stems from improper use of legal creations called DMCA takedown notices. The DMCA stands for the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act”, which is a US federal law that created a system for protecting copyrights online. The DMCA system works pretty well, but has a few overlooked flaws that have made it too easy to abuse. Under the DMCA, companies, like Automattic, who publish user content cannot be held legally responsible for copyright infringement – so long as we follow a procedure to take down materials when we receive a notice from a copyright holder that something appearing on our platform allegedly infringes their copyrights. Every company that you use to share videos, pictures, and thoughts (from Google search to Facebook to Snapchat to WordPress.com) relies on the DMCA to balance free expression with protection of copyright.

The DMCA system gives copyright holders a powerful and easy to use weapon: the unilateral right to issue a takedown notice that a website operator (like Automattic) must honor or risk legal liability. The system works so long as copyright owners use this power in good faith. But too often they don’t, and there should be clear legal consequences for those who choose to abuse the system.

[read the rest of the piece in full at WordPress News]

And a useful link from there:

  • Retraction Watch: Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Item the third is an extraordinary story of response to cyber-bullying, with extreme harassment and threats: it shows the other, positive side of the DMCA.
The original version: “I’VE BEEN CALLED THE “ERIN BROCKOVICH” OF REVENGE PORN, AND FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, HERE IS MY ENTIRE UNCENSORED STORY OF DEATH THREATS, ANONYMOUS AND THE FBI”, xojane.com, 2013-11-21.
Also “One woman’s war against the most dangerous man on the internet”, at Jezebel, with many heartwarming offers of help from the community at large.

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