A group of outspoken atheists has blasted a creationist ministry for allegedly false copyright claims after recent YouTube posts attacking creationism were pulled from the popular Web site.
"We believe that the actions of Creation Science Evangelism Ministries are meant to silence critics that can prove their unscientific statements ... well ... unscientific," said a statement on the Rational Response Squad Web site. "We feel as if this act to silence us should be countered."
YouTube had taken down earlier this month numerous videos containing content from the Creation Science ministry and videos criticizing the group after receiving several take down copyright notices. The popular Web site also suspended Rational Response Squad's account.
DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) requests were submitted to YouTube as the creationist group claimed copyright ownership of the material that was used by the atheist group to criticize the ministry. DMCA, passed in 1998, limits Internet service providers from copyright infringement liability but requires them to promptly remove material from their Web sites that appears to constitute copyright infringement.
Brian Sapient, who heads the Rational Response Squad, plans to file suit, arguing that the material they used was fair use within the boundaries of copyright law.
The atheist group's account was recently reinstated and their videos were reposted along with a host of new posts where the squad and supporters denounce the ministry and claim the recent actions were attempts to silence critics.
"Our right to speak out about the irrationality of religion is the same right you are afforded to speak about exactly the opposite," said the atheist group.
Creation Science Evangelism Ministries is led by Kent Hovind, who is well known for his creation science seminars, which are taped and widely distributed. His self-titled "Hovind Theory" which includes a literal reading of the biblical account of Noah is highly controversial among both atheists and creationists. The Rational Response Squad frequently quotes Hovind in their argument for encouraging the public to use the Creation Science content and saying "our material is not copyrighted."
The atheists further use profane language while mocking Hovind in the YouTube posts.
Hovind is currently serving a 10-year term in jail for failing to pay $845,000 in employee-related taxes. He was found guilty in November 2006 on 58 federal counts. Hovind had argued that his ministry was tax exempt and wrote the IRS many times asking them why he was wrong if, in fact, he was wrong, according to The Conservative Voice. He did not get a response and in January was given 10 years in federal prison.
Meanwhile, the Rational Response Squad is currently entangled in several other copyright disputes.
The atheist group has also made a number of appearances in the media in more recent months, having this year debated Christian evangelists Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron on national television over scientific evidence for God's existence. They also launched last year the controversial "Blasphemy Challenge" campaign which urges the irreligious to post videos of themselves on YouTube deliberately blaspheming the existence of God and the Holy Spirit – the one sin the group identifies in the Bible as unforgivable.
Christians, in response, have launched counter campaigns such as the "Praise the Lord Challenge," posting public testimonies of themselves professing faith in the Bible and taking a stand for Jesus Christ.