Tag Archives: Astroblog

Using copyright laws to censor a science blogger?

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick highlighted an incident where an astronomy blog was taken down with a DMCA (US Digital Millenium Copyright Act) notice earlier this week over an astronomy dispute. From Masnick’s July 22, 2011 article,

James Litwin points us to a report about how someone — and, tragically, the party is never actually named — filed a DMCA takedown notice to Blogger to try to take down Ian Musgrave’s Astroblogger site.

According to Nancy Atkinson on the Universe Today blog’s July 20, 2011 posting, the Astroblog site was unavailable for a few days,

Astronomer and blogger Ian Musgrave from South Australia has been active in debunking the misinformation and nonsense that is being disseminated about Comet Elenin. He has written several wonderful posts featuring the actual realities of this long-period lump of dirty ice that has, for some reason, attracted the attention of doomsdayers, 2012ers, and end-of-the-world scaremongers. Earlier this week, Ian’s Elenin posts on his Astroblog were taken down by the web host, as someone filed a claim for alleged violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). “Given that there is no copyrighted material on these pages, with either material generated entirely by me or links to and citation of publicly available material, I believe this was just a frivolous attack on people countering Elenin nonsense” Ian said.

Atkinson goes on to provide all of the information Musgrave generated over a number of days on Astroblog in a single posting. I think it’s a convenient to catch up with this issue for someone like me who until Masnick’s article had never heard about Elenin or the concerns it has generated.

Thankfully, Astroblog has been reinstated and Musgrave continues to post about Elenin and other matters. His July 22, 2011 post features a story about how an individual, citizen scientist (amateur astronomer) bought time on a remote telescope (in the Canary Islands) to test an hypothesis about Elenin,

There has been a lot of angst about the size of comet C/2010 X1 Elenin on the internet, with some people worried it is either a Brown Dwarf Star or the Satellite of a Brown Dwarf. Both Leonid Elenin and I have used maths and simulations to show that the comet must be small, but people continue to be anxious, and are discussing the matter endlessly on various discussion groups.

Except a commenter called Astronut, who did something unthinkable, rather than endlessly nattering he actually tested the hypothesis that Elenin was big.

He bought time on a remote telescope (one of the Slooh scopes) in the Canary Islands, and measured the position of asteroid (74732) 1999 RQ176 twenty -four hours after it’s close encounter with comet Elenein on May 20.

I won’t give any more details, please read the story to find out what happens next but, if you don’t have time to do that, you can rest easy.

I’m sorry to see a copyright law as a form of censorship.