Landmark Forum Violates Constitution and Federal Law by Trying to Chill Speech

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is fighting a controversial self-help group's coordinated, illegal campaign to silence Internet critics.

San Francisco-based Landmark Education, known for its Landmark Forum motivational workshops, is trying to suppress an investigative television news piece critical of its methods. Landmark contends that the documentary infringes its copyright in the Forum course, while citing to copyright registration of the Forum leader's manual. Using the alleged copyright violation as a pretext, Landmark subpoenaed three websites hosting the video -- the Internet Archive, Google Video, and YouTube -- seeking the identities of the anonymous uploaders. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allows a content owner to issue a subpoena for the identity of an alleged infringer without first filing an actual lawsuit.

"This is a classic example of using a bogus copyright claim to squelch free speech," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "To the extent that the documentary uses any Landmark material, that use is clearly non-infringing. Landmark is simply trying to use the streamlined DMCA subpoena process to obtain the identities of its critics."

Landmark's efforts are being challenged on multiple fronts. The Internet Archive is fighting its subpoena, and EFF filed official objections on its behalf Friday. Later this week, EFF will also file a motion to quash the subpoena issued to Google Video, on behalf of the anonymous speaker who uploaded the video. Google has advised Landmark that it will not produce the requested information pending a ruling on that motion. YouTube sent notification to the user about its subpoena and is giving the user a reasonable opportunity to move to legally nullify, or "quash," it.

"Sharing videos on the web is the latest example of free speech flowering on the Internet," said Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Unfortunately, it is being met by a simultaneous rise in the use of baseless legal claims as an excuse to pierce anonymity and chill speech. This kind of intimidation has to stop."

For EFF's objection to the Internet Archive subpoena:

For more on Landmark's subpoena campaign:


Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Kurt Opsahl
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

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