Home > Free Speech, Rights > NSA has a new tool to bully Americans exercising free speech: Copyright Infringment

NSA has a new tool to bully Americans exercising free speech: Copyright Infringment

August 23, 2013
LibertyManiacs product NSA claimed copyright infringement on. Click image to visit cafepress store this shirt can be purchased.

LibertyManiacs product NSA claimed copyright infringement on. Click image to visit cafepress store this shirt can be purchased.

Earlier this week Ben Swan posted an exclusive about the NSA using copyright claims to crush free speech. I highly recommend watching Swan’s video or reading the transcript. This case involves products from a company named LibertyManiacs. The online store Zazzle was forced by the NSA to take some LibertyManiacs products down due to copyright infringement claims. By forcing Zazzle to remove the products from their website the NSA is directly attacking free speech.

The case clearly is not copyright infringement. It is actually a fair use case of a copyrighted material in the means of parody. If you look at the product it is clear the NSA logo has been changed. Below the eagle in the logo it says: “Peeping while you are sleeping”. Below the logo it says: “The NSA – The only part of government that actually listens.” Anyone looking at any of the products with this logo can clearly determine this is a work of parody and free speech.

What is troubling with this story is the NSA’s use of copyright infringement to bully a website in a matter to stop speech it disapproves of. As Ben Swan says:

Bottom line, there is no gray area here.  But the NSA is a very powerful government agency. They don’t need a gray area or even to be right to get companies like Zazzle.com to cooperate.

This is why Internet piracy bills like SOPA and PIPA and CISPA are so dangerous.  If those bills become law, all the feds have to do is claim copyright infringement to shut down an entire site.  They don’t have to be right.

Dan McCall’s story is just a taste of what happens when government agencies decide they will enforce laws but not be subject to them.

Unfortunately it is near impossible for websites to fight against such blatant attacks on free speech. Zazzle likely received the copyright infringement notice and decided to take down the product rather than spend time and money proving otherwise. The product is being sold at cafepress now. But it may be only a matter of time before NSA goes after that site, then directly after LibertyManiacs. It will be hard for LibertyManiacs to stand up to a large government agency such as the NSA. Even if they did take the NSA on and win (a big if), the process would likely bankrupt LibertyManiacs.

As we near the end of the recess for elected officials in DC maybe it is time to remind them we taxpayers are not happy with the NSA. As free American citizens we do not want anti-liberty laws such as CISPA or CFAA expanded. It is time to remove power from large government agencies that have no accountability. Otherwise I fear more thug moves like this will be used by the NSA and other government agencies to silence criticism. When fighting the government the burden of proof is always on the accused. It is time for Congress to put the rights of American citizens before the wishes of over-powerful government agencies.

PS. If you didn’t watch or read Swan’s story I recommend it. Ironically, the NSA itself is in copyright i infringement trouble for its PRISM logo.

Categories: Free Speech, Rights Tags: , ,
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