On Monday, May 6th, a subpoena that we previously reported on will be argued against in court. the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF) will argue asking the San Francisco Court to revoke the subpoena from the religious organization Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. The religious organization was aiming to abuse the copyright claim to unmask the identity of an anonymous Reddit commenter who shared his thoughts and sparked a discussion about the religious organization in Reddit.
The EEF’s Staff Attorney Alex Moss will represent the anonymous Redditor “darkspliver” at the San Francisco Courthouse.
Watch Tower is the supervising body and the publisher of the religious doctrines for Jehovah’s Witnesses. The anonymous Redditor who shared comments and sparked a discussion about Watch Tower was a lifelong member of the Jehovah’s Witness Community and this person shared several thoughts and opinions about the religious organization in a Reddit online discussion group.
The Watch Tower was upset with the content shared over Reddit by “darkspliver” and subpoenaed Reddit on the basis of potential copyright lawsuit. Watch Tower sought the real identity and some other information about the Redditor “darkspliver.”
While the religious organization claims that “darkspliver” had committed a copyright violation, EEF said that the Redditor’s use of copyrighted material was a lawful fair use. Therefore, it becomes a legal way to reuse content without permission and hence Reddit must not reveal the identity or give any information about “darkspliver” to Watch Tower.
The First Amendment protects free speech and encourages citizens to express controversial thoughts and opinions without fearing reprisal. Here’s an excerpt from what EEF said about Watch Tower’s subpoena to get information about the Redditor:
“Courts routinely quash subpoenas like this one if they don’t pass constitutional scrutiny, and we hope that they will do so here. Internet users have the right to speak anonymously and hear what others have to say without worrying that baseless copyright claims could compel disclosure of their identities or justify the private and public harms that would ensue.”
All in all, this seems like a religious organization’s attempt to blatantly misuse the copyright laws for reaching their ends.