On December 6, 2013, the day after Nelson Mandela died, the British conservative activist Jeff Vinall posted the following Facebook status update.
“Another terrorist has died,” it reads. “Let us look to making sure our future is safe from similar situations and similar people.”
When the UK-based liberal-leaning website Political Scrapbook posted a story about it, Vinall sent them a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice, alleging that they’d by publishing their story, they’d infringed on his intellectual property rights.
This is funny and ineffectual in for a couple of reasons. One, that the DMCA has clearly stated provisions for fair use in journalistic applications such as this. And two, Vinall is a British citizen, and Political Scrapbook is a British-based website. DCMA is an American law.
Cory Doctorow breaks down Vinall’s possible motivations for such a dimwitted move at BoingBoing:
In my opinion, Vinall is trying to have his cake and eat it too. I think he believes that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist, but he also believes that saying this aloud brings him and the party into disrepute. At the same time, I think he believes that repudiating his tasteless remarks will alienate a sizable number of Conservative supporters who also hated Mandela and cheered his death — so using bullying, censorious tactics to suppress the reporting of his remarks is way for him to suppress news of the remarks without having to issue an insincere apology through gritted teeth that would disgust the party’s reactionary wing.
Next time you try to bully reporters into taking down their work, Jeff, try using your own country’s law.