Ecuador’s dictator Correa using U.S. laws to silence opposition outside the country
While most eyes are on the spectacle that is the Cubanization of Venezuela, many are missing the same process taking place in Ecuador. Just as they did in Venezuela, Cuba's Castro dictatorship has installed a puppet dictator in Ecuador, Rafael Correa, to oversee the colonization of yet another resource-rich South American country. Almost as briskly as it has been happening in Venezuela, Ecuador is becoming Cubanized more and more each day. Under instructions from the Castro regime, Correa has systematically dismantled and eliminated basic human rights, prohibiting the free expression of the Ecuadorean people and eliminating his opposition through intimidation, harassment, and imprisonment.
But it appears Correa is not satisfied with just violating the rights of the Ecuadorean people. He is also diligently using the U.S. judicial system to violate the rights of free expression of foreigners who dare to question his dictatorial regime.
Phony copyright claims exploit holes in U.S. Internet law
Ecuador, having bargained away virtually all its oil production to China in return for low-interest loans to finance President Rafael Correa’s spendthrift populism, is in dire need of a new export. And the president seems to have found one: tyrannical censorship of his critics.
Correa’s increasingly novel inventions for suppressing free speech in his own country are doubtless the subject of much envious chatter whenever Iran, North Korea and the rest of the fellows get together for meetings of Despots R Us. His latest wrinkle: a proposed law that would criminalize wisecracks on Facebook, enforced by placing video cameras in every cybercafe in Ecuador.
But now Correa has gone international. He’s using phony copyright claims to force American companies such as YouTube and Google to remove videos and documents that criticize his government.
Last month, more than 140 videos posted by Chevron abruptly vanished from YouTube, replaced by notices that said they were yanked due to copyright-infringement claims by a Spanish video-distribution company called Filmin.
Filmin didn’t specify what copyrights it owns on the videos for the excellent reason that it doesn’t have any. Nearly all of them were outtakes from a film called Crude, a documentary about an Ecuadorian lawsuit against Chevron over oil-drilling pollution.
Chevron’s attorneys won the legal right to view and disseminate the outtakes, which show various sleazy acts of behind-the-scenes collaboration between the plaintiffs, the Ecuadorian government and the supposedly neutral judicial authorities hearing the case.
But YouTube, like many Internet companies, doesn’t want to get dragged into a potentially expensive and time-consuming lawsuit over somebody else’s copyrights. So it simply took down Chevron’s videos without investigating Filmin’s claim.
What was Filmin’s motive? Adam Steinbaugh, a law-school graduate who writes an excellent blog about law and technology, discovered that Filmin is linked with another Spanish company called Ares Rights that frequently acts as a hired gun for Ecuador, filing numerous copyright complaints, ranging from dubious to absurd, against critics of Correa’s government.
Using a U.S. law known as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, Ares has claimed it owns everything from a mock wanted poster for the father of a Correa cabinet member accused of raping a child to a left-wing documentary criticizing the government for granting mining concessions to foreign companies.
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