When the story first broke that Stefan Molyneux used DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notices to have the YouTube channel of Tru Shibes taken down, I was very disappointed. Saying he did it because the channel owner was releasing personal information about listeners didn’t improve matters any, quite the contrary. Using government force to shut somebody up, whether they are copying videos or releasing phone numbers, is unacceptable behavior for a man in Stefan’s position. Whatever position one is in, purposely using government force, and lying about it, is fraud. Issuing a DMCA notice is a threat of force, and a very specific one. It is making the claim that you have property in the form of a copyright on the content in question, not that it exposes personal information or makes you look bad.
I was also disappointed with others, who seized on this as an opportunity to discredit the good work he’s done. In addition to hearing and seeing many individuals make comments about the situation, I was on Free Talk Live just after the news broke. We discussed it and there was an effort to assign “cult” status to Free Domain Radio. I’m told Michael Dean and other podcasters spoke in similar terms.
As best as I could tell, there was a great deal of envy, feminism, responsibility avoidance, and other agendas involved in the campaign against Molyneux over this subject. I find this very unfortunate because it thus failed to address the actual wrongdoing, the threat of State violence. Molyneux’s transgression doesn’t invalidate the fact that child abuse is a major factor in the cycle of violence. It doesn’t excuse the disproportionate role that women play in the cycle of violence. It doesn’t mean that Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown were innocent victims. It doesn’t invalidate any of the other very valid points Molyneux has made over the years he’s been producing content and speaking. Whatever the ramifications of this particular wrongdoing, Stefan Molyneux is easily one of the most important people in the history of libertarian thought, and anyone who says otherwise, is either being purposefully disingenuous, or willfully ignorant.
It just means that Stefan Molyneux gave into temptation, and used the gun in the room to silence a critic. This is a big enough problem by itself, and is worthy of discussion.
Using DMCA notices to have any content removed from the web is a threat of State violence. That’s unacceptable for any voluntarist. Using DMCA notices to have content taken down for some other reason, is fraud. That’s not only against libertarian principles, that’s illegal by State law as well. I’m not going to make any effort to justify this. Molyneux was wrong, and no matter what he says publicly, he knows it. You can’t be as familiar with libertarian ideals as he is, and claim ignorance of this reality.
For Molyneux to make right, he has to admit his fault, make restitution, and assure the community that he will not engage in any type of behavior like this in the future. I sincerely hope he does so, because his work is important and this stain on his reputation should be repaired if he cares about the cause.
Whether he takes these actions on his own or not, it appears restitution may be forthcoming. Tru Shibes, aka J. Raven has filed a lawsuit against Molyneux, Michael DeMarco (his operations manager), and Free Domain Radio, for DMCA fraud, and defamation. You can read the full complaint here.
It reads in part, as to the DMCA claim;
On information and belief, Defendants knew that the critique videos did not infringe their copyright when they sent YouTube the takedown notices. Defendants acted in bad faith when they sent the takedown notices, knowingly and materially misrepresenting that they had concluded the critique videos were infringing.
In the alternative, Defendants should have known, if they had acted with reasonable care or diligence, that the critique videos did not infringe Defendants’ copyright on the date it sent YouTube its complaints under the DMCA.
As to the defamation claim;
Plaintiff is informed, believes, and thereon alleges that Defendants published false, non-privileged, and defamatory statements regarding Plaintiff with the intent to injure and damage Plaintiff’s reputation and to interfere with and to disrupt Plaintiff’s existing and prospective relationships.
The published statements falsely accused Plaintiff of doxing Defendant Molyneux’s listeners and/or other people.
Plaintiff is informed, believes, and thereon alleges that Defendants expressly attempted to damage Plaintiff’s reputation in order to punish Plaintiff and disrupt and cause damage to her personally and to her Tru Shibes YouTube channel.
Given that Molyneux and DeMarco have both acknowledged that the DMCA claim was bogus, it would appear that Tru Shibes has them dead to rights on the DMCA fraud portion of the suit. I can’t claim to have seen all the Tru Shibes videos to know if she was “doxxing” (releasing personal information about) FDR listeners, but if she wasn’t, she’ll likely have them on the defamation case as well.
There are times when using government is appropriate. When government monopolizes a service, and forces you to pay for it regardless, there can be justification for its use. Derrick J. Freeman was assaulted here in Keene, and I told him to call the police, because for us to retaliate against his aggressors would have gotten us arrested. We all have to drive on government roads. If you’ve been taxed your whole life, and find yourself in financial trouble, there can be justification for collecting unemployment or even welfare/food stamps.
What Molyneux did fell into no such category. He committed fraud and threatened violence to silence a critic.
What Tru Shibes is doing does fall into that category. Molyneux aggressed against Tru Shibes, he owes restitution which is not forthcoming, and the State has monopolized dispute resolution in the court system. The lawsuit is the only recourse she has.
I sincerely hope Stefan settles this out of court and confesses his transgression. Should he fail to do so, I hope he loses the lawsuit. Most importantly, I hope everybody learns a lesson here. It doesn’t matter how consistent a libertarian you are, it doesn’t matter how popular you are, it doesn’t matter how talented you are, or how much influence or money you possess. Initiatory force, especially when enacted through the State, leads to bad outcomes.
None of us should stoop that low, and when we do, well… What goes around, comes around.
Subscribe via email and never miss another post!