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NRA Complaint Takes Down 38,000 Websites (vice.com) 565

Sarah Jeong, reporting for Motherboard:38,000 websites hosted by the automated publishing service Surge went down today, after the National Rifle Association sent a legal notice over a parody website created by the Yes Men. A few days ago, the Yes Men released the parody video, "Share the Safety" -- announcing a supposed NRA program to deliver firearms into the hands of those too impoverished to afford guns. The opening frame of the video says "Paid for in part by the National Rifle Association of America with additional support from Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation." "Systemic poverty and dumb laws keep the urban poor unable to acquire life-saving firearms," says the video, which is available on YouTube. "That's why we at the NRA are teaming up with Smith & Wesson to share the safety.â The YouTube description includes a link to the "official" website, ShareTheSafety.org.
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NRA Complaint Takes Down 38,000 Websites

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  • by Lead Butthead ( 321013 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:23AM (#52419229) Journal

    Where do I sign up?

    • by Frigga's Ring ( 1044024 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:33AM (#52419285)
      You can start by checking out the video here - https://youtu.be/_8punyPP-bs [youtu.be]
    • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:37AM (#52419313)

      Google 'Gun Owners of America'. The NRA is soft, but you should still support them too.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Armed Citizen Project is the real version...

      https://facebook.com/TheArmedCitizenProject/

    • by Squiddie ( 1942230 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @12:14PM (#52420113)
      I believe something like this actually happened in Texas already with shotguns being given to impoverished urban populations. Surprisingly no blood in the streets.
  • by sbrown123 ( 229895 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:31AM (#52419263) Homepage

    Whoever killed 38,000 websites to get rid of the one the DMCA targeted is an idiot.

    • Exactly, all politics and humor and whatever aside, how did one notice bring down an entire hosting system ? And if they had 38,000 websites, surely they had received notices before, and why didn't it bring Surge down then ?

      It seems there's more to the technical side of this story.

      • by RGRistroph ( 86936 ) <rgristroph@gmail.com> on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:46AM (#52419399) Homepage
        From the article now that I took the time to read it:

        According to a series of tweets from the Surge twitter account, the NRA sent a legal complaint to Cloudflare, which then forwarded it to Digitalocean. Surge responded âoewithin 22 minutes.â Digitalocean asked Surge to provide counterclaim documents. Some minutes later, Digitalocean shut down Surge.sh. According to Surge, 38,000 sites became unavailable.

        That at least seems more plausible. I wonder if Surge will spread their services accross several hosting providers after this incident.

        • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @11:10AM (#52419607)

          I agree with the other posters that these videos are likely to cause confusion to the average viewer, and are probably in violation of trademark law. That said, the way to handle that is in the courts.

          DCMA takedown requests only apply to copyright infringement, not trademark law. It is a violation of the law to use the DCMA this way, both according to the USPTOs guidelines [uspto.gov](See B.4), and existing case law [lexology.com].

          From the article, it is unknown whether their lawyers sent a DCMA request or a some other sort of cease and desist letter. But either way, Digitalocean had no legal obligation to take down the content, or any legal liability if they didn't take it down. The fact that they shutdown an entire service over a toothless complaint about one page on that service is unacceptable, and people should seriously reconsider doing business with them in the future.

        • From the update which is now at the bottom of the article:

          Update: Digital Ocean sent a statement.
          "We received notice on behalf of a trademark holder that a customer of DigitalOcean was hosting infringing content on our network. DigitalOcean immediately notified our customer of the infringement, and the customer was given a five day period to resolve the issue. The infringing content was not removed within the specified period even though several notifications were issued. Per Di

  • by Tyrannosaur ( 2485772 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:33AM (#52419279)

    I am all for parody, but isn't claiming to be supported by the organization you are parodying a bit much?

    • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:35AM (#52419299) Homepage Journal

      Holy shit, the video doesn't just claim to be supported by the organization; it contains zero hint that it's a parody, at all. It looks very authentic, and it's on Youtube with a very non-parody title [youtube.com]. Seeing this video, examining it frame-by-frame, and studying the quality and the transcript, I would say it's authentic.

      • by gQuigs ( 913879 )

        They have a press conference too!
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

        Ha. I assumed that https://sharethesafety.org/ [sharethesafety.org] was actually a real NRA site. It's not.

      • by MetalliQaZ ( 539913 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:55AM (#52419481)

        You have to realize what the Yes Men are. Their pranks are not just satire like you might find in the Onion. They are activists and they fully understand that they can get themselves arrested in some cases for the crap they pull. Their hoax about the Monsanto chemical disaster apology was definitely risky. They likely are fully aware of the fact that the NRA will take issue with this hoax. However, the Yes Men often rely on the fact that any litigation by the "victims" would result in even more attention to an uncomfortable topic, so they don't sue.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo&world3,net> on Thursday June 30, 2016 @11:05AM (#52419567) Homepage Journal

        That's what these guys do. They sign up for conferences, make fake web sites and do interviews pretending to be these big companies. A lot of their satire that they sound believable and fool a lot of people into thinking they are the real deal, because although they take a completely insane position it's close enough to the real position to be believable.

        This campaign is a great example. The NRA says that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. They promote gun ownership as a way to maintain safety. So it's only natural that those who are most likely to be the victims of gun crime should want to protect themselves, and guns being the best protection it's logical for charities to hand them out. It's like giving out free condoms and replacement needles.

      • by jopsen ( 885607 ) <jopsen@gmail.com> on Thursday June 30, 2016 @12:58PM (#52420479) Homepage

        Holy shit, the video doesn't just claim to be supported by the organization; it contains zero hint that it's a parody, at all. It looks very authentic...

        When you can't tell the difference between parody and reality, you have to ask yourself if maybe reality have gotten too crazy...

    • I am all for parody, but isn't claiming to be supported by the organization you are parodying a bit much?

      I agree. Parodies are all good fun, but once you claim to be the actual organization, it enters a different realm. The Masson v. New Yorker Magazine decision comes to mind as an example of this. You cannot falsely attribute a quote to another person or organization.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes it is. The same people shocked by this takedown would be calling for heads if the "parody" was a video about killing babies "supported" by Planned Parenthood.
    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:47AM (#52419407) Journal
      The video looks very authentic. And it is promoting arming black people using some kind of charity. It could be parody, it does not look like a parody and it will strike fear in the heart of NRA supporters.

      The asymmetric enforcement of second amendment rights is the core of NRA and its followers mission. White people with long guns, with fingers on the trigger can walk into departmental stores, or pick arguments with police officers, insult the police and terrorize play grounds with impunity. Stand your ground, Open Carry and such slogans are meant for them.

      Unfortunately for them, black Americans are also citizens with full second amendment rights. They too have the rights, but if they exercise it, they will be shot by police without a second thought. "At that moment I feared my life, though none of the circumstances warranted it, but if I fear for my life I have the right to kill" is accepted as a valid defense for police officers. The same defense does not work when the victim of police shooting is white. A complex system of law enforcement, jury selection, etc are propping up this asymmetry. This ad brings out the hypocrisy of the NRA followers, and make them fear what would happen if the jury rigged system of rigged juries to deny black people their second amendment right collapses. That is why NRA is acting swiftly.

      • by Z80a ( 971949 )

        I think wealth ends being a much bigger factor than color of the skin here.
        I doubt "white trash" do get it any easier than black people.

      • by WhiplashII ( 542766 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @11:57AM (#52419969) Homepage Journal

        You are, of course, completely wrong in every respect.

        Gun control laws were put in place to take guns away from black people. Democrats didn't want the blacks to be able to defend themselves when they had lynching parties. Republicans disagreed. (https://www.firearmsandliberty.com/cramer.racism.html)

        If you really believe that cops are "out to get" African American people (most cops were I am seem to be African American themselves?), black people having guns is even more important. Cops are a lot more respectful when the suspects and witnesses might be armed but are behaving themselves...

      • by tangent ( 3677 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @12:07PM (#52420061) Homepage

        > it is promoting arming black people using some kind of charity.... it will strike fear in the heart of NRA supporters.

        There actually is a US government-sponsored nonprofit offering free guns to qualified citizens. It is called the Civilian Marksmanship Program. (http://thecmp.org) It's 113 years old this year. They don't restrict their giveaways by race. As for the NRA, I've never heard anything but positive noises from them about the program. So much for the NRA only supporting armed white guys.

        > The asymmetric enforcement of second amendment rights is the core of NRA and its followers mission.

        Point me to the position paper on their web site saying that.

        I've been to NRA meetings. Down here in the southwest, we don't get so many "black" people at them, but we do get plenty of brown people. (Hispanics and Native Americans.) The table at the last event I attended was 50/50 Hispanic and white. As far as I can tell, the only color the NRA cares about is green.

        > with fingers on the trigger can walk into departmental stores

        NRA is against that.

        It's their second rule of gun safety: keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. You'll get kicked out of any well run event if you violate it. (http://training.nra.org/nra-gun-safety-rules.aspx)

        > pick arguments with police officers,

        1st amendment.

        > insult the police

        I see that regularly here on Slashdot, often highly rated.

        > terrorize play grounds with impunity.

        That's called brandishing, and it's illegal in all 50 states.

        Plus there's the 1000 foot rule around school playgrounds. It's a federal felony if you carry inside that border and don't qualify for one of the few exceptions. And if you do qualify, you're obeying the law.

        > black Americans are also citizens with full second amendment rights.

        Damn straight. There is no human right restricted to only some citizens.

        > if they exercise it, they will be shot by police without a second thought

        [citation needed]

        Oh, I'm sure you can find cases of legally armed black people getting shot by the cops, but if you actually go looking, you'll find Americans of all brown shades (including that shade we call "white") getting shot by cops without proper justification.

        > if I fear for my life I have the right to kill" is accepted as a valid defense for police officers.

        Wrong. There are 4 or 5 tests a defendant must pass in order to avoid a charge of manslaughter or murder, depending on where you are in the US. An imminent threat of grievous bodily harm or death is only one of them. Miss any of the 3 or 4 others and your case falls apart.

        Andrew Branca (a constitutional law professor and 2nd Amendment expert) summarizes it nicely here: https://lawofselfdefense.com/t... [lawofselfdefense.com]

        > This ad brings out the hypocrisy of the NRA followers

        This NRA member wants Americans of all shades and creeds to exercise their 2nd Amendment right.

        Better trim that broad brush down a bit.

        > That is why NRA is acting swiftly.

        The NRA is acting swiftly because this "ad" puts words in their mouth that you'll never read in their publications, nor hear in their leadership's speeches. It's basically a lie.

    • As parodies go, it's pretty clever. I'm wondering if Yes Men were clever enough to intentionally cause the NRA to issue a takedown and put the video in the public spotlight. Had this been a normal, "Saturday Night Live" type of parody, it's unlikely I would have seen it or that it would make any news at all.

      But here we are. I've seen the video, and the satire illustrates some potential holes in the rhetoric of the NRA and pro-gun side of that particular issue.

      Golf clap.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Agreed. If they had at least changed the name to "National Gun Association", or something similar, it would be parody, and not impersonation. Now "The Onion" could get away with this, as everyone knows that their publication is satire, but if they created a website without the Onion brand, that would be different.
  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:35AM (#52419301) Homepage Journal
    "Automated publishing" sounds a whole lot like spam to me. Disgusting.
  • by ElectricHellKnight ( 4011689 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:38AM (#52419331)

    Aside from any hate for the NRA, I see no issue with this. Some people pulled a stunt giving off the false impression that they represented the NRA and Smith & Wesson.* The NRA requested a takedown, Surge complied with the takedown but screwed the pooch and brought down 38,000 sites instead of just the target.

    The wording of the the article implies the NRA should be held responsible. It is the fault of Surge.

    *Yeah I know it was supposed to be a "parody", but watch the video on YouTube. They never mention that they are not affiliated with the NRA or S&W. In fact, the little disclaimer on the bottom at the end of the video even makes the claim that they do represent the NRA.

    • Aside from any hate for the NRA, I see no issue with this. Some people pulled a stunt giving off the false impression that they represented the NRA and Smith & Wesson.* The NRA requested a takedown, Surge complied with the takedown but screwed the pooch and brought down 38,000 sites instead of just the target.

      They probably weren't confident enough in their litigation insurance so they panicked and shut everything down.

  • Streisand Effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:40AM (#52419347) Journal

    Perhaps the authors over-did it intentionally to trigger the Streisand Effect.

  • NRA Takedown (Score:5, Insightful)

    by manifestdestinynow ( 2617517 ) <carter.drewj@gmail.com> on Thursday June 30, 2016 @10:59AM (#52419525)
    The reality behind this socialist produced "mocumentary" tells a much different story! In Detroit the Police Chief with massive government cutbacks advised local citizens to arm themselves! http://hotair.com/archives/201... [hotair.com] It really bothers these Yes Men that the result of citizens arming themselves has been steep declines in Detroit crime! From the article: >>Detroit has experienced 37 percent fewer robberies in 2014 than during the same period last year, 22 percent fewer break-ins of businesses and homes, and 30 percent fewer carjackings. Craig attributed the drop to better police work and criminals being reluctant to prey on citizens who may be carrying guns. “Criminals are getting the message that good Detroiters are armed and will use that weapon,” said Craig, who has repeatedly said he believes armed citizens deter crime. “I don’t want to take away from the good work our investigators are doing, but I think part of the drop in crime, and robberies in particular, is because criminals are thinking twice that citizens could be armed. “I can’t say what specific percentage is caused by this, but there’s no question in my mind it has had an effect,” Craig said. Compare Detroit's scenario to Chicago's: Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the U.S. and the highest gun homicide rate! Murder citie's crime rates are off the charts, because citizens can't defend themselves, while the criminals have all the guns. These "Yes Men" are so far from reality, it makes their little joke video much funnier, as they have no idea what they are lampooning!
  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @11:02AM (#52419545) Journal
    Among the other outright stupidities that humans in general, especially here in the U.S., where I was born, raised, and have spent my entire life: Thinking that putting more barriers up to discourage and outright prevent the acquisition of firearms by law-abiding citizens is going to in any way shape or form reduce the occurance of mass-shootings like we've been seeing; it won't. What it'll do is roughly equivalent to a car alarm, or a deadbolt lock on the front door of your house: It'll deter the most casual criminals, but the professionals and those truly dedicated to their course of action will find a way to get the tools they want to perform whatever mayhem they have in mind. If it's not guns, they'll obtain or make IEDs of some kind and blow people up (Boston Marathon bombers) or just get knives or even swords or other hand-to-hand weapons to attack people with, or for all we know something more exotic.

    Now, to all you SJWs and hysterical types who are now so triggered that you need to go take a Xanax so you can be calm enough to write your insults and death-threats against me: Don't even bother. I don't give a fuck what you think, because I think you and your gun-control rhetoric are utterly and completely wrong, and a snowball's chance in hell is still greater than you've got to try to even begin to change my mind. Oh, and by the way: I don't even own a single gun myself; but I support the Constitutional right every U.S. citizen has with regard to firearms, and if you don't then I think you're a bad citizen and should consider renouncing your citizenship and finding somewhere else to live.

    Oh, and also: I'm not voting for either Trump or Clinton, because I don't trust either one of them or think either one of them is in any way shape or form suited to being POTUS, so don't bother hanging that 'Republican' bullshit on me, either; save your bandwidth for someone who gives a fuck what you think.
    • by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @11:49AM (#52419919)

      Here's a video clip you'll enjoy if you haven't already seen it.

      https://youtu.be/Cw6jDrshgEw [youtu.be]

      Interesting to note that in the US, 'gun crime' overall has dropped steadily over the last 2 decades, even as gun sales have increased...except in those areas with extremely restrictive gun laws that prevent most law abiding citizens from owning & carrying guns.

      Strat

  • The article seems to be claiming that Youtube cares about Fair Use and false content claims like this one.

    Unless you are from a big media company, then its rubber stamp ban anything you like.

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Thursday June 30, 2016 @11:44AM (#52419887) Homepage Journal

    So, lemme get this straight.... If "Saturday Night Live" created the exact same video and broadcast it, we'd all laugh, and then go back to ignoring it.

    But if some clowns post this video to the internet, it's a takedown via the DMCA -- and 38,000 sites also suffer due to someone's fat finger mistake.

    So once again, citizens have no rights, but corporations do. Meanwhile, the GUN NUTS are screaming about their second amendment rights, but guess what, that's apparently the ONLY right you have, because that was the only one you cared about.

    The politicians and corporations have you so FOCUSED on your gun rights, they have secretly deprived you of all other rights, and guess what? YOU FELL FOR IT.

    I hope you've got your gun, because you're going to need it real soon.... This country has been usurped by the wealthy and greedy and your gun, which was supposed to protect you from tyrants, well, that pop gun won't do squat against drones and tanks and RPGs. Good luck with that.

    • So, lemme get this straight.... If "Saturday Night Live" created the exact same video and broadcast it, we'd all laugh, and then go back to ignoring it.

      Excepting the part about it being paid for by the NRA, yes, you're probably right. Why? Because the video would appear on SNL, it would have SNL actors, and have NBC/SNL copyright notices on it. The origin would be clear.

      it's a takedown via the DMCA -- and 38,000 sites also suffer due to someone's fat finger mistake.

      1. It wasn't DMCA, it was trademark. 2. It wasn't a 'fat finger', it was a quick and probably improper decision by an upstream network provider. But a deliberate decision nonetheless.

      So once again, citizens have no rights,

      You still have the right to hyperbole. You still don't have the right to claim that a video you produce is p

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