Late last night YouTube blocked the channel of the influential conservative politics and law website, "Legal Insurrection," citing copyright infringement claims. The creator of the website, Cornell University Law Professor William Jacobson, told Fox News he was given no warning of the action and no opportunity to defend himself, saying "it’s very frustrating, it’s very scary, to have 8 years of content removed without a chance to defend yourself."
Without notice, YouTube replaced Legal Insurrection's channel with the following notice:
While the infringement notice from YouTube cited "multiple third-party claims", earlier this morning, Legal Insurrection posted the following update to their website noting the complaint came solely from the Modern Language Association and was based on a couple of short excerpts borrowed from a 2-hour video from MLA that were "well-within fair use."
UPDATE 1-13-2017 9:50 a.m. — I just received notice from YouTube that the copyright claims were filed by the Modern Language Association based on excerpts of audio of pro- and anti-Israel speakers at the MLA Annual Meeting we reported on in this post, Massive DEFEAT for BDS at Modern Language Association.
We intend to fight this both at the YouTube and legal level. It is highly questionable that MLA owns the copyright for oral presentations at the Annual Meeting, and even if it did, the limited excerpts we used from the nearly 2-hour video posted by MLA on YouTube are well-within fair use. What I think is really going on here is that anti-Israel activists at MLA complained to MLA that MLA had posted the audio on YouTube. MLA took down its own 2-hour video and now seeks to silence our reporting.
Which, of course, led Jacobson to the logical conclusion that YouTube's decision was seemingly nothing more than the latest attempt of Silicon Valley's liberal elitists to censor conservative media outlets, saying "clearly this was a politically motivated move...these were perfectly legitimate fair use excerpts with great news value."
In an email, Jacobson said that he never received notice of the claims prior to the channel's removal on Thursday. On Friday the publisher received notification from YouTube that the copyright claims were filed by the Modern Languages Association (MLA) based on audio posted of a recent MLA vote on a resolution to boycott Israeli universities. The boycott resolution at the MLA Delegate Assembly failed.
"Clearly this was a politically motivated move," he told FoxNews.com. "I never received any request or complaint from MLA. These were perfectly legitimate fair use excerpts with great news value."
"This is an attempt to silence our reporting on a matter of great public importance," added Jacobson, whose website reported on the vote. "We intend to pursue all available remedies, and call on YouTube to restore our account."
For those not familiar with the site, Legal Insurrection gets over 1.5 million page views per month and is a well-respected conservative blog that has been widely cited over the years by not only other conservative media outlets, but mainstream media publications as well.
Legal Insurrection now is one of the most widely cited and influential conservative websites, with hundreds of thousands of visitors per month. Our work has been highlighted by top conservative radio personalities, such as Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, and Professor Jacobson regularly appears as a guest on radio shows across the nation.
Our writings have been linked by virtually every major conservative publication and many mainstream media publications, including The Atlantic Wire, The National Review, The Hill, New York Magazine’s “Daily Intel”, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Herald, The New York Times, Gothamist, CBS News, The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, The Washington Times, AOL News, The Week, and many, many others.
“We take copyright issues very seriously both on YouTube and our website," he said. "We have a large readership, and the videos that disappeared included substantial original content that has been shared widely at other websites."
But we're sure this was just an innocent mistake by YouTube and not another blatant attempt of Silicon Valley's tech giants to censor dissenting political opinions.