Open Debate and NARTH’s Paranoia

Jim Burroway

January 22nd, 2008

Ex-Gay Watch’s David Roberts noticed that the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) has posted six videos from their 2007 conference on their web site. I haven’t had a chance to look at their videos yet, but you don’t have to look far to see something very odd — like this red-lettered warning at the top of the page:

Video on this web site cannot be copied, reproduced, downloaded or used in any way other than for viewing on the NARTH web site. Any violation thereof will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

That same message appears on each video’s opening screen. And in each video, there’s a permanent subtitle, “Property of,” which remains at the bottom of the screen throughout the video.

NARTH Video Warnings

Aside from the technical difficulties of complying with this warning (most media players silently download an copy of the video while playing it — is my mother in trouble because she doesn’t know how to clear her cache?), a much bigger question looms: what is NARTH afraid of?

Copyright law already holds that nobody can copy someone else’s work — even with attribution — without obtaining prior permission from the owner of that work. NARTH’s property is already protected by law just as Box Turtle Bulletin’s is, so it can’t be that.

Companies and nonprofits routinely generate material which they consider “proprietary” and are strictly controlled according to who has access to the information and how it is handled. This kind of information, which typically includes competition-sensitive data, is further protected by law beyond the normal copyright restrictions. But putting “proprietary information” on the World Wide Web for free and without any sort of firewall removes the sensitive nature of the information, and such protections become moot. Clearly, NARTH isn’t afraid of the information “falling into the wrong hands,” so it can’t be that either.

Copyright law also holds that very brief quotations from someone else’s work can be copied when offering a critical examination of that work or the ideas behind it. Those brief copies are protected under a legal principle known “Fair Use.” NARTH’s attempt to run around copyright law notwithstanding, it’s a critically important part of free debate and examination. It’s the principle that allows writers to write book reviews without having to obtain prior permission for brief quotes. It’s also the principle that allows theologians, theoreticians, scientists and other academics to debate and critique each other’s work, free from the stifling strictures of prior permission. In sort, it also allows for the free discussion of differing worldviews, values and philosophies which make informed debate possible. And since NARTH claims they’ve consistently called for “an openness to differing worldviews, values and philosophies,” surely their objection isn’t that, is it?

So what is NARTH worried about?

Are they worried that a critical watchdog group might — oh, I don’t know — use a very small snippet from their own statements in order to examine and critically discuss some of those “differing worldviews, values and philosophies” — and how they impact real people, real families, and real sons and daughters?

If that’s what NARTH is afraid of, then their latest attempt to infringe upon the legal principles of “fair use” is simply laughable in the face of their claims of wanting open debate for “differing worldviews, values, and philosophies.” David Roberts observes:

It’s hard not to find some humor in a character like [past NARTH president Joseph] Nicolosi, but this truly is a silly thing to do. Like the process by which reparative therapists form their claims, hording information and discussion like this is really the antithesis of what scientific thought is all about. If they truly believe their claims will hold up under scrutiny, well then let others scrutinize freely.

Hat tip: Ex-Gay Watch.

Mike Airhart

January 22nd, 2008

It seems obvious to me that NARTH intends to lob frivolous litigation at anyone who dares to review their videos.

NARTH also intends to publicize how critics are “stealing” their “intellectual property” and violating copyright by merely reviewing the videos.

The litigation would fail in court, but most journalists and reputable bloggers are too afraid of the time and cost of a fight to challenge NARTH.

quo III

January 22nd, 2008

I think writing an article about this is making a big deal out of a very minor matter.

Samantha Davis

January 22nd, 2008

That’s all well and good, Jim, but what are the legal ramifications of this? More to the point, what are you going to do about it?


January 23rd, 2008

Minor matter? How can stifeling discussion on an important matter be minor? If we cannot discuss the points made, then we cannot advance any kind of critical thinking on the situation.


January 23rd, 2008

To me, NARTH’s desire to limit access to their videos shows a fear of criticism. In a free market, if your products are good and worthwhile, you want your name and product to get out there. You don’t threaten lawsuits. So, I think they must know their junk-science looks like well, junk when analyzed.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.