San Francisco - Websites like YouTube have ushered in a new era of creativity and free speech on the Internet, but not everyone is celebrating. Some of the web's most interesting content has been yanked from popular websites with bogus copyright claims or other spurious legal threats. So today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is launching its "Takedown Hall of Shame" to call attention to particularly bogus takedowns — and showcase the amazing online videos and other creative works that someone doesn't want you to see.

"Free speech in the 21st century often depends on incorporating video clips and other content from various sources," explained EFF Senior Staff Attorney and Kahle Promise Fellow Corynne McSherry. "It's what The Daily Show with Jon Stewart does every night. This is 'fair use' of copyrighted or trademarked material and protected under U.S. law. But that hasn't stopped thin-skinned corporations and others from abusing the legal system to get these new works removed from the Internet. We wanted to document this censorship for all to see."

EFF's Takedown Hall of Shame at focuses on the most egregious examples of takedown abuse, including an example of a YouTube video National Public Radio tried to remove just this week that criticizes same-sex marriage. Other Hall of Shame honorees include NBC for requesting removal of an Obama campaign video and CBS for targeting a McCain campaign video in the critical months before the 2008 election. The Hall of Shame will be updated regularly, as bad takedowns continue to squash free speech rights of artists, critics, and commentators big and small.

Many of the bogus takedowns come from misuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Under the DMCA, claimants can demand that material be removed immediately without providing any proof of infringement. Service providers, fearful of monetary damages and legal hassles, often comply with these requests without double-checking them, despite the cost to free speech and individual rights.

"The DMCA encourages a 'take down first, ask questions later' approach, creating an unfair hurdle to free speech," said EFF Activist Richard Esguerra. "People who abuse this law to silence critics should be shamed publicly, and that's what we're aiming to do."

The Takedown Hall of Shame is part of EFF's No Downtime for Free Speech Campaign, which works to protect online expression in the face of baseless intellectual property claims.

For EFF's Takedown Hall of Shame:

For EFF's No Downtime for Free Speech Campaign:


Corynne McSherry
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Richard Esguerra
Electronic Frontier Foundation