Over a year ago, YouTube terminated ThinkProgress’ original account due to copyright infringement complaints. We were surprised to recently learn that the videos were removed due to complaints from NumbersUSA — a designated anti-immigrant group which has occasionally been a topic of my posts. The YouTube website reads:
YouTube account thinkprogress has been terminated because we received multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement from claimants including: NumbersUSA
Chances are, NumbersUSA took issue with two posts I have written in the past that included excerpts from troubling videos it was promoting on its website. One of those videos was aimed at making the case against Mexican migration and the “exportation of poverty.” The other included speakers who, in the past, have expressed concerns about an “illegal alien invasion” and the spread of bilingualism.
NumbersUSA adamantly denies the claim that it is anti-immigrant and its website clearly states “nothing about this website should be construed as advocating hostile actions or feelings toward immigrant Americans.” The group doesn’t seem to take any allegations to the contrary lightly. We learned that when a member of its staff sent us a sharply worded email threatening to sue ThinkProgress for libel after I wrote a post which linked back to a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) report that identified NumbersUSA as an anti-immigrant group and quoted a respected researcher who challenged several of the group’s questionable research findings.
However, despite shutting down our YouTube account and using threats and intimidation against ThinkProgress, NumbersUSA has not been able to stifle its critics entirely. The perception of the group as an anti-immigrant organization has penetrated the mainstream. Roll Call recently reported on the “nativist lobby,” and specifically identified NumbersUSA as one of the groups founded by a Michigan ophthalmologist — John Tanton –with a white-supremacist ideology. “Tanton’s groups are making use of economic hard times to argue that immigrants — legal and illegal — are stealing jobs from Americans and straining government budgets,” wrote Roll Call.
Meanwhile, SPLC claims that NumbersUSA’s director, Roy Beck, was employed by Tanton for 10 years, edited his “immigrant bashing” magazine, and vacationed with him and his wife.
We take copyright complaints very seriously and respect NumbersUSA’s right to protect its digital property. But, we suspect NumbersUSA’s complaints to YouTube had more to do with waging an ideological campaign than a genuine concern about copyright infringement.