Cory Doctorow’s latest novel Homeland tells the story of an infowar, the suppression of information and the fight against censorship.
The setting of the fictional book is a realistic scenario according to activists, and on a small scale the book itself has now become the center of a censorship row.
Published by Tor Books, Homeland is available for sale in most book stores, but because of its Creative Commons license people are also free to share the book online. After all, obscurity is a much bigger problem than piracy for most authors.
As a result copies of the novel are shared for free on hundreds of sites, and this attracted the attention of a Hollywood studio. For a few weeks none other than 20th Century Fox has been sending DMCA takedown requests to Google for Doctorow’s novel.
Fox’s idea is to make pirated copies of the TV-series Homeland harder to find, but as collateral damage they’re also taking down the novel. Shown below is an example of a typical notice 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 being sent out, and here’s an even bigger list.
All Your Homeland Are Belong to Us!
TorrentFreak confronted Cory Doctorow with these dystopian findings and the author was outraged by the gross abuse of his rights. Without hesitation he called for drastic action to be taken against the head honcho of the content empire.
“I think you can safely say I’m incandescent with rage. BRING ME THE SEVERED HEAD OF RUPERT MURDOCH!” Doctorow says.
To make matters even worse, Fox is not the only party going after Doctorow’s books. His own publisher Tor Books has also sent DMCA takedown notices to Google, in this case for the book “The Rapture of Nerds”.
Creative Commons Who?
When we made this discovery back in February, Doctorow was more understanding. He told us that Tor Books sends out DMCA notices with his authorization, but only in instances where the book is wrapped in DRM, or when there’s another violation.
But, where DMCA notices are sent out mistakes happen.
“I think what I’d like is for Tor to be perfect in only sending out takedowns when there’s a genuine violation, but perfection is a pretty high bar. I’m sorta OK with settling for one mistake in 10 years, especially if it doesn’t happen again,” Doctorow said.
Around the same time Tor Books told TorrentFreak that the takedown was an honest mistake, and that they would tell Google to reinstate the links so that the books could be accessed again.
“Those takedown notices were simply a bureaucratic/administrative mistake. We’re withdrawing them as quickly as possible.,” Tor’s senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden said.
However, more than two months later the links in question remain censored on Google, and Tor Books have been unreachable since. All our follow-up questions remained unanswered, most likely swallowed by some overactive spam filter or intercepted by a local spy agency.
Get out the pitchforks!