You may have seen our report on the Yes Men’s spoof of a nonexistent NRA/Smith & Wesson program here. Motherboard now reports that “38,000 websites hosted by the automated publishing service Surge went down today, after the National Rifle Association sent a legal notice over a parody website created by the Yes Men.” As you might expect, the NRA didn’t take kindly to the appropriation of their logo and false claims of their involvement in the unintentionally on-point agitprop.
According to a series of tweets from the Surge twitter account, the NRA sent a legal complaint to Cloudflare, which then forwarded it to Digitalocean. Surge responded “within 22 minutes.” Digitalocean asked Surge to provide counterclaim documents. Some minutes later, Digitalocean shut down Surge.sh. According to Surge, 38,000 sites became unavailable.
Although Surge referred to “counterclaim documents,” which sounds like part of the DMCA notice-and-takedown process, other sources say that the legal complaint sent by the NRA was not a DMCA notice, and was likely based on trademark law.
But wait! Why is the original Yes Men video still up on YouTube? Glad you asked.
There’s a reason why the Yes Men video is still up on YouTube and why their Digitalocean-hosted, Cloudflare-distributed site is down. After over a decade of sparring with rights holders, YouTube has a robust team of employees whose job it is to deal with legal disputes over content. Maybe sometimes they still make the wrong calls, but the company has manpower and experience.
Motherboard must mean like the time the brain trust at YouTube took down firearms reviewer Kickok45’s high traffic channel for no good reason at all, driving him to Full30.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, just like terrorist attacks, homophobia, global warming, the Zika virus, and pineapple pizza, according to Motherboard, this is all the NRA’s fault.
Services like Digitalocean might have dedicated teams handling DMCA notices, but employees might not be able to handle a more unusual variety of complaint. The NRA got Digitalocean to choke up and hit a panic button, sending 38,000 websites into purgatory.
Most of the Surge websites went back up around 3:30 PM PDT, but the Yes Men website is still unavailable—successfully censored, for now, by the National Rife Association.