Jehovah’s Witnesses, a US religious group whose inner workings are often hidden under a shroud of secrecy, has been facing challenges in the digital age.
It’s not uncommon these days for current or former Jehovah’s Witnesses to use social media anonymously to reveal their experiences and shed light on the way the organization works.
And for the last several years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have tried to silence them claiming copyright infringement, with the endgame being to reveal the identity of these insiders – in order to protect copyrighted content.
But the fear that these “whistleblowers” have is that the real reason behind these attempts at unmasking is to ostracize them from their community, a measure Jehovah’s Witnesses take against those violating the group’s rules.
The holder of copyright content allegedly infringed here belongs to The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses publisher and supervising body, TorrentFreak writes.
It might appear counterintuitive for a religious group to work this hard to protect its message, where most others would welcome any opportunity to disseminate it.
However, there’s been a new DMCA subpoena filed by the publisher in New York, asking Google to reveal the identity of YouTuber JW Apostate, who operates a channel dedicated to “leaking” sermons of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Only five of the channel’s videos were mentioned in the subpoena application, which said that Watch Tower analyzed this content “in good faith” and determined that the videos were, in fact, infringing copyright rather than staying within the bounds of the fair use rule.
It’s not by accident that Jehovah’s Witnesses made this point, since their recent attempt at unmasked Reddit user Darkspliver’s real-world identity failed when a US court recognized his use of Watch Tower material as fair under the DMCA.
This time, District Judge Cathy Seibel obliged the subpoena request and ordered Google to “produce the identity of entities or persons believed to be infringing on the copyright of Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.”
A day before the order was signed, TorrentFreak tried reaching out to JW Apostate for comment on Reddit.
“Very shortly after, the Reddit account, YouTube channel and all of its videos were deleted, leaving nothing in their wake,” said the report.