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Watt’s Up With Suppressing Honest Skepticism

July 28th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Notable (notorious) climate skeptic Anthony Watts has made much of looking at scientists work and seemingly showing where there problems with that work. Evidently, however, he has some concerns when he faces such a look; perhaps because that look provided a clear and accessible demonstration of the shallowness of Watts’ claims. A recent video by Peter Sinclair’s excellent “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” series (see, for example, this GESN post) highlighted how Watts’ work is fundamentally flawed.

Watts complained to YouTube, evidently asserting copyright infringement, and, voila, the video “Watts Up With Watts?” is no longer available.

As Kevin Grandia put it,

So what do you do when someone posts a YouTube video saying you’re a crock? One way is to complain and get it wiped clean off the ‘inter-tubes.’ …

The video was removed after Watts complained under YouTube’s Copyright Infringement guidelines. This has become known as a DMCA Takedown – with the DMCA being the US copyright law used to criminalize anyone infringing and/or circumventing copyrighted works.

Before I posted Sinclair’s youtube video, as I normally do with any YouTube video I post, I vetted it from a DMCA point of view and, quite frankly I don’t know what part of the video Watts would have a problem with. There’s nothing I saw in the video that appears to break any copyright as it relates to Watts.

Now maybe he took issue with the short (credited) clip at the beginning from Will Ferrell’s Anchorman movie…. but I think this is more about a video that thoroughly shreds Watts and his argument that the world is wrong about climate change and he is right.

So what is it Watts? Instead of hiding behind an automated service that deletes any video on YouTube that someone claims infringes DMCA, why don’t you email me (desmogblog [at] gmail [dot] com) and explain why you think Sinclair’s video should not be viewed by the public.

Perhaps, Kevin, it is simply because Watts is uncomfortable when people are too skeptical about skeptics.

Below is the totality of the (form) message from YouTube. Now, we must admit that YouTube needs to deal with actual copyright infringement all the time. (All those people seeking to share their favorite cable show, for example …) And, thus this is a high burden activity that probably, in most cases, is clear-cut infringement. In this case, Watts is able to suppress what is arguably (actually, almost certainly) academic criticism (and / or sarcasm) falling within the fair use doctrine. YouTube is, in essence, engaging in preemptive censorship, placing the burden of proof on the creator rather than expecting anything other than an assertion of inappropriate usage as enough to shut down a video. In addition, despite requests, YouTube is not sharing the content of Anthony Watts’ complaint nor has Watts provided (to date) an explanation of how the video violated his property rights.

Dear Member:

This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Anthony Watts claiming that this material is infringing:

Watts Up With Watts?:

Please Note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to prevent this from happening, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others. For more information about YouTube’s copyright policy, please read the Copyright Tips guide.

If you elect to send us a counter notice, please go to our Help Center to access the instructions.

Please note that under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability.

YouTube, Inc.

UPDATE: Some other discussions include:

Re the basic questions that Sinclair addresses, see, Tamino, Surface Stations providing an excellent example of how the site’s “work” distorts the data and analysis.

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Tags: climate change · climate delayers · global warming deniers

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Twitted by ClimaTweets // Jul 28, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    […] This post was Twitted by ClimaTweets […]

  • 2 But, but (from the Watts) « Greenfyre’s // Jul 28, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    […] Watt’s Up With Suppressing Honest Skepticism […]

  • 3 Roger Pielke Sr speaks on Climate Crock: Laugh or cry? // Jul 28, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    […] Sinclair took on well-known climate skeptic Anthony Watts (based, in no small part, this study).  Watts, evidently, did not enjoy Sinclair’s attention and filed a complaint with YouTube that l….  And, as per any good fight, the commentaries are spreading — some more absurd than […]

  • 4 WashPost/NY Times: To Subscribe or Unsubscribe, that is the question. // Aug 2, 2010 at 5:58 am

    […] time to do film criticism and look to Peter Sinclair and his devastating dissection of WUWT (that Anthony Watts sought to surpress) as part of his Climate Crock of the Week […]

  • 5 Christian Science Monitor joins the scam machine … // Oct 19, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    […] before publishing Watts‘ drivel, the CSM editorial staff didn’t bother to actual look into the facts and see […]

  • 6 Scientists admit major error in key global temperature data // Nov 26, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    […] Anthony Watts (Watt’s Up With That) and others have long argued that there are quite serious problems with temperature records, problems that are so serious that they call into question what science is / scientists are telling us is happening in our planetary climate system due to human influence (through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but also land use practices and other actions). They have, among other things, argued that climate scientists are exaggerating the situation. […]