I am extremely proud today that I chose WordPress as my blogging platform. The Guardian is reporting today that Automattic, owners WordPress.com, have emerged victorious against an attempt to use an American copyright law to shut down criticism of a short-lived pressure group call “Straight Pride UK”.
In August 2013 Oliver Hotham, a student journalist, posted an interview on his WordPress blog with Nick Steiner, press officer for an anti-gay group called “Straight Pride UK”. In the interview, Steiner expressed his group’s support for homophobic policies enacted in Russia and a number of African nations, and praised Putin’s crackdown on LGBT rights.
“Straight Pride UK” then tried to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to take the content offline. Wordpress supported Hotham and have now won the case in a Californian district court because the article did not infringe copyright. Critics of DMCA argue that it is often misused to shut down criticism.
Following Automattic’s legal victory against the group, activists hope that more web hosts will be emboldened to fight back against malicious takedown notices. Parker Higgins, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said: “Wordpress going to bat was really unusual, and this could encourage others.”
WordPress was awarded $22,264 in legal fees and $1,860 for time spent working on the case, which should also go some way to encouraging others to fight similar cases. Unfortunately “Straight Pride UK” has disappeared so it is unlikely that the money will ever be payed.
I applaud WordPress and Automattic for the stance they took in fighting this case. It demonstrates a degree of integrity rarely seen in today’s business world.