Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Landmark Forum abuses copyright to suppress criticism

The San Francisco-based Landmark Education, an offshoot of Werner Erhard's est, has been misusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to threaten online video providers and cause the removal of material critical of the organization. They've specifically targeted a film that was broadcast on French television titled "Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus" ("Voyage Au Pays Des Nouveaux Gourous") which was posted on Google Video, YouTube, and the Internet Archive. This film included footage shot undercover at Landmark events.

In addition to demanding removal of the film under the DMCA on the bogus ground that their copyright in the "Landmark forum leaders manual" is being infringed, they have issued subpoenas to try to identify the individuals who have uploaded the video.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has acted to support the Internet Archive and Google in actions to fight the subpoenas; YouTube has notified its user and given them an opportunity to quash the subpoena. The EFF's website documents their activities and the status of the case.

These three videos include part of the content that Landmark Education is trying to suppress. The first begins with some references to Scientology and a quote from Christian anti-cultist Walter Martin (the late "Bible Answer Man," whose successor was discredited creationist Hank Hanegraaf), followed by video footage of Anthony Rapp from "Rent" talking about Landmark Education. It then goes into "Voyage Au Pays Des Nouveaux Gourous" beginning at about 3 minutes in, which is French with English subtitles. Unfortunately, this is not the complete show, though it does show some interesting undercover footage of Alain Roth of Landmark Education verbally abusing a woman at a Landmark seminar.

Landmark Education Part 1

Landmark Education Part 2

Landmark Education Part 3

UPDATE (December 10, 2006): Landmark Forum has withdrawn its subpoena of Google.


GuruTruth said...

Indeed a very interesting chronology of events, from the 2004 broadcast of the video in France to 1.5 million people, to Landmark's pulling out of France, to Landmark now attempting to suppress Freedom of Speech on the internet. More on this at Landmark Education wants to make French news report a “forbidden video” on the Net and also at Voyage to the Land of the New Gurus.

It is quite striking how more respected educational institutions like colleges, universities and the like have full accountability and openness about their training programs, whereas Large Group Awareness Training organizations will go to such tremendous lengths to hide from the truth.

More on this at our blog:
The Truth about Human Potential Seminars

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,
This isn't related to Lmdmark, but I also had some youtube vids removed and I'd like to challenge the removals.
But of a long story, but briefly, I have in my possession 80 hours of recent video speeches given by a cult leader wanted for rape by Interpol,
I've examined the free use sections of copyright, and I've absolutely no doubt my use is fair,
Here is a link to one of the removed vids:

The removal was a part of the cult's efforts to remove critical info from the web following research by the UC San Diegi student newspaper that led to this article:

My website:
That is a mirror of my free discussion board that was deleted a week before the vids were removed

The cult leader's wiki page, the guy who updated it this week recieved threats from a cult member:

Rick Ross's collection of articles:

I'd apprecite any advice you may have,..

Jim Lippard said...

CaptPorridge: If your excerpts from the 80 hours do not include commentary or some other form of transformation of the original content, it might not be fair use. There are four factors that determine whether a given use of a copyrighted work is fair use (purpose and character, nature of the work, amount and substantiality of the portion used, and effect of the use on the potential market for the work). The rules for what constitutes fair use are not written in stone and have in fact eroded substantially over the years in various court decisions--e.g., sampling as used in music is almost completely gone as fair use.

Your best bet is to contact an attorney who deals with copyright law. If your posted video is your own material commenting on and excerpting from the 80 hours of video, you should be in good shape and in a position to challenge any removal--though when you're using the services of an online provider like YouTube, you need to present a case that is palatable to them (and consistent with their terms of service) as well, as they are under no obligation to help you fight. If you can present a clear-cut case that they can handle under the DMCA safe harbor rules, then you will be more likely to win on that front.

GuruTruth said...

Looks like more parts of the video are back up on YouTube as well, you might want to check it out.

The Truth about Human Potential Seminars