by Lesbian Syrian Hoaxer
Back in June, Google, which owns Blogger.com, received a complaint from Thomas McMaster who had pretended to be a Syrian lesbian blogger, alleging that I had violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when I quoted something he'd written when pretending to be Amina Arraf of Damascus.
My post that upset McMaster is here, while my post on the DMCA complaint he filed against me is here. In a nutshell, I wasn't about to amend my post that properly sourced a brief comment without challenging Google and the person who made the complaint, which was an act of cyber-bullying.
After corresponding with Minal Hajratwala, the woman writer whose blog contained the McMaster/Arraf comment I quoted, explaining the hassle he created for me, Minal put me in touch Jeff Hermes and Arthur Bright of the Citizen Media Law Project up at Harvard. Minal was threatened with legal actions by the hoaxer and she received advice from the project, and she was happy to help me stand up to the DMCA complaint and the hoaxer.
Long story short, the Harvard guys put me in touch with Art Neill, the executive director of New Media Rights a valuable resource for keeping the web open and free of censorship, answering questions about the law and technology, and helping little guys like me who receive chilling notes from web giants alleging copyright violations.
Art Neill patiently gave me practical advice about counter-complaining to Google, while also educating me on the application and challenges to DMCA. I shared with Art emails and dashboard warning from Google, to familiarize him with my case. He was a kindred soul showing me how to deal with Google to restore my original post with no changes.
I filed a counter-complaint, then had to wait about two-weeks for McMaster to either file a lawsuit against me (ugh), and if he took no such legal action, then Google was required to full restore my post using the quote from McMaster.
While this scenario played out, Google forced my post into draft mode, effectively censoring the post until the matter was resolved.
Late last week, Google dropped this fabulous note into my in-box from their Blogger Team:
In accordance with the DMCA, we have completed processing your counter notification and we have reinstated the content in question on
This post has been restored in draft version. You will need to sign into your account and republish it. Please let us know if we can assist you further.
I am pleased to say my post is restored, and wish to publicly acknowledge the support and assistance from Minal, Jeff and Arthur, and especially Art Neill and his great New Media Rights project. Navigating the Google rules for alleged DMCA violations was made so much easier and less stressful thanks to the people and services of New Media Rights.
Support this incredible resource in their battles to keep the web open and full of free expression!