Uncivil Rights: Astroturf Organization Protesting Copyright Hearings Organized Mass Copyright Infringement Campaign Against MLK Estate

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Fight For The Future a Massachusetts non-profit committed willful copyright infringement when they uploaded a copy of the “I Have a Dream Speech” and then encouraged thousands of followers to share it on for-profit social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube. Violating the rights of the King family estate while simultaneously generating page views for your Silicon Valley patrons is not “civil disobedience,” It’s positively Orwellian!

Any creators attending the Copyright Office roundtables on the “notice and takedown” provisions of the DMCA may see or hear from some “takedown abuse” protestors at this forum today in San Francisco.   These are not grassroots protestors but most likely operatives from an astroturf group called Fight For the Future.  This group has received massive funding from tech companies; venture firms (like Union Square Ventures); and a couple of mysterious “black box” foundations.

You probably have never heard of Fight For The Future, but back in 2012 they organized an “Internet Freedom Day.”   The key component of their campaign for “Internet freedom” was built around violating the rights of the MLK family.  Yes, these arrogant (and tone deaf) New Englanders organized a mass copyright infringement campaign against the MLK estate by posting  a copy of the “I have a dream” speech online and encouraging their thousands of followers to repost it on for multi-billion dollar for-profit platforms like Twitter and YouTube.

Fight For The Future blatantly misled the public into thinking the speech was not available or somehow being kept from the public by “bad copyright laws.” This was an absolute fiction, the speech was and continues to be available in many formats including a $2.99 iTunes download. (It was recently re-broadcast on the 50th anniversary by networks like CNN and MSNBC.)

So it’s tempting to choose the wrong moral outrage here:  A privileged and entitled group of Bostonians have an online temper tantrum because they want to watch the speech now and they don’t want to pay for it!

But that’s not the real moral outrage.

The real moral outrage is that this was a tech and venture capital funded anti-civil rights protest pretending to be a kind of civil disobedience.  This was a  protest designed to deprive the King estate of constitutionally protected intellectual property rights and allow multi-billion dollar social media, online video, tech and ad-tech companies to generate revenues from the I Have a Dream speech without compensating the King estate.

Disgusting isn’t it?

So who is funding this group?

According to Federal tax documents these Corporations and “black box” foundations are massively funding this organization.

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Union Square Ventures (Twitter, SoundCloud, Tumblr, and a host of other DMCA abusing services).  Their website says they welcome feedback here info@usv.com.

SV Angel  ( ex Google: Partners Topher Conway & Brian Pokorny;  Ex-Goldman Sachs: Paul LaLonde) Here’s their twitter account: https://twitter.com/svangel 

London Trust Media AKA Private Internet Access  Nearly $200K from every TorrentFreak’s favorite VPN!

NameCheap (also funds the EFF another anti-civil rights organization)

Yelp  (tweet their CEO!)

Consumer Electronics Association AKA Consumer Technology Association (Google funding).



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What the f— is the Sixteen Thirty Fund?  According to it’s 501 (c)(3) it “promotes Environmental Quality, Protection and Beautification.”   Is Fight For the Future building nature trails on Cape Cod? Martha’s Vineyard?

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Proteus seems mostly concerned with death penalty issues.  Good for them.   So why $100k for Fight For The Future? Wouldn’t that money be better spent on death penalty issues? Well, if you read in the fine print they brag:

Each initiative is uniquely structured and focused to achieve the goals of its funding partners, and led by experienced program staff. Our highly effective rapid response grantmaking function and ability to integrate support for lobbying activity are two key tools utilized by our collaborative grantmaking initiatives.

Translation:  We also do lobbying work for unspecified “funding partners”

I couldn’t find any way to contact them.  But I see that that one of the board members is this person:

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You’d think the Director,ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy would feel a twinge of conscience over funding ($100K) an organization that willfully violated the rights of the King estate.  Imagine if it were 1960 and some Dixiecrat decided to encourage thousands of people to use Dr King’s copyrighted works without permission or payment?  What would the ACLU of 1960 say about that?

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Obviously Chicago Instructional Tech Foundation is based in Boulder Colorado.  And naturally it makes sense for them to give $105,000 to Fight For The Future, because of their well known “instructional tech” expertise.   It of course follows that donations to this foundation are not tax deductible.  And naturally they don’t disclose funding.  If you’re a glutton for punishment read their 990.  It’s a maze of related entities paying each other money.  If anyone has any idea what this “non-profit” is doing explain it to me.