Thomas Knapp: Copyright Nazis. Literally.

Found on Thomas Knapp’s Facebook Page
Published to Thomas Knapp’s blog Kn@ppster

“You will never get the crowd to cry Hosanna until you ride into town on an ass.” — Nietzsche

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Copyright Nazis. Literally.

As I write this, the Center for a Stateless Society’s web site is down, as is the web site of its partner group, Students for a Stateless Society (S4SS), active on numerous campuses around the world. That a web site might go down is not especially interesting … but WHY these particular sites are down is interesting indeed. We’ve been shut down by copyright Nazis. Literally.

It all started with some anti-Muslim slurs on the S4SS U Gent’s public Facebook page. For whatever reason, some Belgian neo-Nazis, including one Olivier Janssens (who opined that “the Muslims” are the real power behind the European Left and are over-breeding “parasites” — the same stuff his spiritual forebears would have said 80 years ago about “the Jews”) apparently chose to operate under a false anarchist flag, disguising themselves as a legitimate S4SS branch.

Other S4SS branches and the more general S4SS organization, upon seeing these slurs, quickly moved to dissociate themselves from S4SS U Ghent, as did S4SS’s parent organization, the Center for a Stateless Society, publishing a brief excerpt of the remarks in their dissociation statements by way of explanation.

If the story had ended there, well, the story would likely REALLY have ended there. Few people — movement insiders all — would have noticed the dissociation announcement. Most of those who did notice it would have forgotten it, at least in detail, within a month or so.

But it didn’t end there.

A few days later, C4SS and S4SS received a demand from Janssens: We were to remove his name, and the content of his statements, from our web sites or, he wrote, “I will sue” (emphasis his). This, he claimed, was required because he feared violent retribution from the Muslims he had publicly reviled.

He received a reply that, in retrospect, was probably as rude as the demand.

If he’d been nice about it, we might have considered ways to accommodate his fears.

If he’d been truthful about it — his REAL fear was almost certainly not Muslim retribution but that Belgian authorities would notice he’d violated that country’s “hate speech” laws, which anarchists like C4SS and S4SS have no truck with and would not intentionally subject anyone to the penalties of — we’d probably have gone out of our way to insulate him from those repercussions.

But he was rude, we were rude back, and that brings it down to the simple fact that no, we have no obligation to protect Mr. Janssens from the consequences of his actions, or to refrain from explaining ourselves to the rest of our movement because he might find that explanation embarrassing or even frightening.

So, Janssens escalated: He retained an American lawyer — one JD Obenberger, whose web site brags that he’s “an active member of The First Amendment Lawyer’s Association and the Free Speech Coalition” — to file a frivolous, meritless, malicious and clearly abusive “takedown notice,” per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, with C4SS/S4SS’s web host.

Ironically, Janssens appears to be a PhD candidate working on a project about “cyber-bullying.” He seems to have taught himself how to “cyber-bully” pretty well.

But maybe not at a PhD level. It’s already backfiring on him, big-time. More people have now taken notice of his Islamophobic statements than ever would have if he’d chalked the whole thing up to “lessons learned,” gone about his business, and left us to go about ours. Within the next 24 hours, that number is likely to grow exponentially.

As I write this, our web sites remain down. They won’t be down for long, though. In fact, when they go back up they will probably reside on offshore servers run by hosts who don’t immediately go into panic mode and cut off their clients when lawyers send them nastygrams.

And when they go back up, Mr. Janssen’s name and actions will probably figure much more prominently than they did before he pursued “the nuclear option” against us. As storied Confederate cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart once said of an opponent’s mis-step, Janssens “shall regret [what he did] but once, and that continuously.”

Until those sites ARE back up, I guess I’ll just have to content myself with using email to inform more than 2,500 publications worldwide about what Mr. Janssens did and said.

We anarchists aren’t partial to firebombs the way we used to be. But we still know how to fight fire with fire.

Read this piece in Dutch translation courtesy of Christiaan Elderhorst

Brief Addendum

Yes, the Center for a Stateless Society always appreciates your donations, but at this particular time they are especially helpful, given that we plan on migration to a different web host, setting up some mirrors, etc. to make sure that this can never happen again. And since our usual donation pages are, like the rest of the site, unavailable at the moment, here are some donation options:

Bitcoin: 129pipr12a5UUZ447bLYjx1paRnCXqG5vi

Thomas Knapp is a contributor and frequent commenter here on IPR.

8 thoughts on “Thomas Knapp: Copyright Nazis. Literally.

  1. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Here’s more about this that I found on Facebook from Brad Spangler:


    Olivier Janssens to iradical, Brad, joseph


    I am the person behind the takedown event of First of all I would like to apologise that not only the complete was taken down, but also with it. As you are probably not aware, I am also an anarchist-libertarian, and not exactly in support of copyright. However, a week ago, someone at took it upon him to repost messages from me, which I put inside what I considered a private facebook group (apparently it was public), and put them in the public domain. Obviously, what you say in a (perceived) private environment is sometimes uncensored and a bit more extreme than what you would say in public. You can compare it to someone making public your private chat messages. Now, the problem was that in these messages I was unapologetically bashing on a problem we have in Europe, concerning muslims. The fact that he put my pretty nasty (I am actually a pretty nice person, but sometimes I let myself go, and this is not reflective of who I am) remarks about Muslims in public , including my full facebook name and picture, is similar to going to stand on the street in a district with 80% muslims, and putting a pig’s head on a Koran. I would likely not survive the event. So as my first resort, I tried to contact the owner of, and asked them to remove my name, because I am honestly fearing for my life. And no, this is not considered hate speech in my country, and if it would, I couldn’t care less (I hate the government). I assume you don’t live here, but once the word is out about me hating muslims, I can spend the rest of my life with a body guard. Just google Theo Van Gogh and you know what I mean. Unfortunately, you told me to go ‘pound sand’, and I had no other choice than to request the webhosting company to take down the page. Instead they took down the whole server, including your site. Maybe overreacting to issue a notice? But why target me personally? I have nothing to do with you guys, I’m not even a ‘member’ of S4SS Gent, nor am I a student there (you have the wrong guy, I hope nothing happens to him). I just post in their group. And I admit, my initial email I sent could have been a lot nicer, but I was/am fearing for my life, and didn’t think straight.

    Now, I am more than willing to leave this behind me, and again will try to apply to your reason and common sense. Posting my personal name + picture together with anti-muslim remarks, is putting my life in danger. I am asking you politely and in a friendly way to no longer do so. If you continue this, I will have no other choice than to continue protecting my person by having it removed, and additionally I will also start pressing personal charges to the persons doing so (for endangering my life/family intentionally). I have a practically unlimited budget to do so, but obviously this is not what I want. The only thing I want is to feel safe again. Hopefully we can end this today, and not start a useless war over nothing.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this, let’s shake hands? I will also be more than happy to send a letter to your host to help getting this undone.

    Please accept my apologies.

    Olivier Janssens

    Brad Spangler
    to Olivier, iradical, joseph

    My “reason”, Mr. Janssens, tells me that a man who takes it for granted that private political discussions will reflect views other than one’s publicly stated views is making the most common mistake among sociopaths — assuming all others have a similar lack of integrity. For that reason, I am specifically taking steps to make sure this letter is distributed to Muslim Student Unions throughout the EU in order that it be well known among all concerned that your publicly stated views are never to be believed.

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  3. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Copyright was supposed to be a limited right, to protect the ECONOMIC value of speech.

    Copyright was never intended to prevent others from repeating what you’d said. Yet that is how others are using it.

    Is anyone aware that even if someone does violate your “copyright,” they can only sue you for its “economic value”?

    This means that, at least under American law, Janssens would have to prove that his statements had monetary value — that he was selling reprint rights to his statements, and people were paying his price. Otherwise, all he could sue for would be a symbolic One Dollar.

    Yes, he could also sue for “statutory damages” — but only if he’d registered his statements before they were copied. Otherwise, he’d be legally entitled to ZERO statutory damages.

    Why do so many people imagine that if anyone copies your remarks that have NO economic value, that you can sue for tons of money?

    More info on how copyright laws are suppressing free speech:

  4. Shawn Levasseur

    Another example of the Streisand Effect.

    I doubt this will result in a lawsuit.

    The DMCA takedown is a low labor/low cost act to perform. A threat of a lawsuit is also low labor/low cost.

    Following through on that threat is costly, and exposes the plaintiff to discovery. Given Jannsen’s supposed motives, discovery is the LAST thing he wants to participate in.

    Then again, I’m not a lawyer, and it’s easy to call someone’s bluff when it isn’t your hand or chips being played.

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