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Reuters Misuses DMCA "Copyright" To Cover Up Its Attacks on Press at UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 27 -- Can Reuters use the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act to get Google to remove a telling document from its search engine?

  Based on a sworn statement under the DMCA by Reuters' bureau chief at the United Nations Louis Charbonneau, Google has blocked search access to a leaked copy of a written request by Charbonneau of Reuters to get an investigative journalist from Inner City Press thrown out of the UN. Click here to view the DMCA notice.

  The DMCA was enacted after massive industry lobbying 15 years ago. It has been used to take copyrighted movies and video games off free Internet sites; it has been subject to abuse in these fields.

  But to misuse the DMCA to cover-up a Reuters complaint to the UN against a smaller competitor? This is a new low, for Reuters, the DMCA, the UN and Google (which have a previous and perhaps related history together.)

  Reuters, like Inner City Press and other media, seeks to obtain and publish documents without the consent of their authors. These are called leaks, and Reuters brags when it gets them, calls them exclusives.

   But it has emerged that on August 14, 2013, Reuters' Charbonneau made a sworn statement to Google under the DMCA seeking and obtaining the exclusion from Search and thus censoring of a complain he had filed with the UN's top two Media Accreditation officials in 2012.

  Ironically, Charbonneau later in 2012 leaked an internal anti Inner City Press document of the United Nations Correspondents Association, of which he was first vice president, to the UN. So the user of leaks tries to misuse the DMCA law to censor others' leaks.

Here is what Charbonneau told Google, under oath:

The copyrighted material is a private email I wrote in April 2012 and for which I never gave permission to be published. It has been published on a blog and appears in on the first page of search results for my name and the firm I work for, Reuters. It can be seen here:

Original work URL(s):

Allegedly infringing URLs:


I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. [checked]

The information in this notification is accurate, and I swear, under penalty of perjury, that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

  Here is the text of Charbonneau's communication to the UN's top Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit official Stephane Dujarric and MALU's manager, to which he claimed "copyright" and sought to censor from Search:

Hi Isabelle and Stephane,

I just wanted to pass on for the record that I was just confronted by Matt Lee in the DHL auditorium in very hostile fashion a short while ago (there were several witnesses, including Giampaolo). He's obviously gotten wind that there's a movement afoot to expel him from the UNCA executive committee, though he doesn't know the details yet. But he was going out of his way to be as intimidating and aggressive as possible towards me, told me I "disgust" him, etc.

In all my 20+ years of reporting I've never been approached like that by a follow journalist in any press corps, no matter how stressful things got. He's become someone who's making it very hard for me and others in the UN press to do our jobs. His harassment of fellow reporters is reaching a new fever pitch.

I just thought you should know this.


Louis Charbonneau
Bureau Chief. United Nations
Reuters News Thomson Reuters reuters. com

This email was sent to you by Thomson Reuters, the global news and information company.

  It is a spurious use of copyright. The e-mail was complaint to UN officials to try to get another journalist thrown out of the UN.

  It came after Inner City Press published a story reporting that then UNCA president Giampaolo Pioli (referred to as a witness in Charbonneau's "copyrighted" email) had a previous financial relationship with Sri Lanka's ambassador and then agreed to screen inside the UN a Sri Lanka government film denying war crimes. Click here and here for more on that.

  This, then, is a cover-up. Previous misuses of the DMCA, cataloged in March 2013 by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, include for example Apple threatening Blu Wiki "for hosting a discussion about reverse engineering iPods to inter-operate with software other than Apple's own iTunes."

  "Censorware" vendor N2H2 claimed that the DMCA should block researchers like Seth Finkelstein from examining its software, and blocked a variety of legitimate websites, evidence that assisted the ACLU in challenging a law requiring the use web filtering software by federally-funded public libraries. See, e.g., Mainstream Loudoun v. Bd. of Trs., 24 F.Supp.2d 552 (E.D. Va. 1998), available (for now) at

  Sony threatened the Norwegian website Gitorious, "a platform for open-source programmers to collaborate on new projects."

  But to misuse the DMCA to cover-up a Reuters complaint to the UN against a smaller competitor? This is something new.

  The new Free UN Coalition for Access has been formed to oppose censorship attempts by and at the United Nations, including by UNCA now headed without reforms by Pamela Falk of CBS. How will Google and the UN, and Reuters now that it has been exposed, act on the false statement under and misuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?

  Reuters has been on notice. Inner City Press asked Reuters editor Stephen J. Adler and three "ethics" colleagues about ThomsonReuters' policies, including how its UN bureau chief's attempts to oust Inner City Press from the UN complied with the wire services' claimed commitment to freedom of the press. Now the DCMA has been misused to try to cover up just one such Reuters attempt. This is a new low. Watch this site.


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