Since 2017, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the supervising body and publisher for the Jehovah’s Witness religious group, has filed more than 70 DMCA subpoena applications in the United States.
When taken at face value, they all tell a straightforward story. Someone on the internet has breached Watch Tower’s copyrights and, as a result, their true names and addresses should be handed over so that the group can seek remedy for infringement.
Most (if not all) of these cases are targeted at the religion’s critics but not once has Watch Tower followed up with a copyright claim after obtaining the identity of an alleged offender. That raises the question of whether the DMCA is being used for copyright enforcement or simply as a tool to crack down on anonymous speech by so-called ‘apostates’.
Silencing an Apostate
One such critic is ‘Kevin McFree’, the creator of a series of Lego animations that criticize the religious group. In 2018, Watch Tower sought to…