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SLAPPing e-Publius: Protecting anonymous expression and reputation in a digital age
Unformatted Document Text:  Running  head:  SLAPPing  e-­‐Publius     26   Amendment-protected free expression. The DMCA has criminalized legitimate research, stunted software development, and chilled expression. 92 By threatening ISPs with litigation under the DMCA, intellectual property owners can silence speakers simply because they do not like what the online speakers have to say. This intimidation has on occasion censored First Amendment-protected parody and satire. 93 The Church of Scientology invoked the DMCA in calling for Google to block links to websites critical of the church, claiming that those sites were reprinting copyright-protected content owned by the church. Google blocked the sites, stating that, “Had we not removed these URLs, we would be subject to a claim of copyright infringement, regardless of its merits.” 94 It did not matter that the re-publishing was almost certainly protected by fair- use provisions of U.S. copyright law. 95 If the DMCA has been used to erase or otherwise silence First Amendment- protected dissent and criticism, it is only logical to assume that individuals and corporate entities could and would similarly abuse a take-down policy specific to defamation. The need for anti-SLAPP laws is an indication. (Anti-SLAPP laws are an attempt to stem “SLAPP suits,” or strategic lawsuits against public participation, lawsuits that seeks to silence a critic through litigation or the threat of litigation.) It also is probable that relatively few anonymous speakers would be willing to litigate to have their problematic                                                                                                                 92 Kembrew McLeod, F REEDOM OF E XPRESSION : R ESISTANCE AND R EPRESSION IN THE A GE OF I NTELLECTUAL P ROPERTY 4 (2007). McLeod describes the DMCA as “one of the biggest threats to free speech online” (213). 93 Id., at 213-214, describing Dow Chemical’s censoring of a group of related protest sites through the sites’ ISP. 94 Id., at 215, quoting statements by Google to T HE C HRONICLE OF H IGHER E DUCATION . 95 Title 17, U.S.C. § 107.

Authors: Carroll, Brian.
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Running  head:  SLAPPing  e-­‐Publius  
 
26  
Amendment-protected free expression. The DMCA has criminalized legitimate research, 
stunted software development, and chilled expression.
92
 By threatening ISPs with 
litigation under the DMCA, intellectual property owners can silence speakers simply 
because they do not like what the online speakers have to say. This intimidation has on 
occasion censored First Amendment-protected parody and satire.
93
 The Church of 
Scientology invoked the DMCA in calling for Google to block links to websites critical 
of the church, claiming that those sites were reprinting copyright-protected content 
owned by the church. Google blocked the sites, stating that, “Had we not removed these 
URLs, we would be subject to a claim of copyright infringement, regardless of its 
merits.”
94
 It did not matter that the re-publishing was almost certainly protected by fair-
use provisions of U.S. copyright law.
95
  
If the DMCA has been used to erase or otherwise silence First Amendment-
protected dissent and criticism, it is only logical to assume that individuals and corporate 
entities could and would similarly abuse a take-down policy specific to defamation. The 
need for anti-SLAPP laws is an indication. (Anti-SLAPP laws are an attempt to stem 
“SLAPP suits,” or strategic lawsuits against public participation, lawsuits that seeks to 
silence a critic through litigation or the threat of litigation.) It also is probable that 
relatively few anonymous speakers would be willing to litigate to have their problematic 
                                                                                                               
 
92
 Kembrew McLeod, F
REEDOM OF 
E
XPRESSION
:
 
R
ESISTANCE AND 
R
EPRESSION IN THE 
A
GE OF 
I
NTELLECTUAL 
P
ROPERTY
 4 (2007). McLeod describes the DMCA as “one of the biggest threats to free 
speech online” (213). 
 
93
 Id., at 213-214, describing Dow Chemical’s censoring of a group of related protest sites through the sites’ 
ISP. 
 
94
 Id., at 215, quoting statements by Google to T
HE 
C
HRONICLE OF 
H
IGHER 
E
DUCATION
 
95
 Title 17, U.S.C. § 107. 


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