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Sunday Times fires off copyright complaint at Snowden story critics

Whacked hacks face flack, slap back in article scrap

The Sunday Times has apparently sent a copyright complaint to critics of its article that claimed British and American overseas spies have had their covers blown by Edward Snowden.

The London-based newspaper unquestioningly parroted the UK government's spin at the weekend, claiming that classified files obtained by the NSA whistleblower and leaked to journalists had somehow made their way into the hands of China and Russia. The piece quoted anonymous government sources in Blighty.

Russia and China have broken the encryption on the sensitive data, and discovered the identities of undercover Western intelligence staff deployed across the world, the newspaper breathlessly reported. This has forced America and Britain to haul its operatives out of danger, we're told.

All patently bollocks: Craig Murray, a former UK ambassador, reminds us that "CIA and MI6 agents’ identities are never, ever written down; neither their names nor a description that would allow them to be identified." So that highly sensitive information should not be present in the document dump regardless of whether or not the Chinese and Russians have obtained plaintext copies of the Snowden cache.

Glenn Greenwald – one of the journos who has seen the Snowden files and is a pal of the whistleblower – tore apart the Sunday Times hit piece on his Intercept blog, and included a thumbnail of the Sunday Times splash for good measure. You can see it below:

That apparently earned the Intercept a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request [PDF] that demanded the removal of the image as it allegedly infringes the newspaper's copyright. We reckon it's covered by fair use and fair dealing, but what do we know?

"We state that we have a good-faith belief that the use is not authorized by the copyright or other intellectual property rights owner," Yvonne Chisese, a lawyer for the newspaper's publisher, wrote in a letter the Intercept put on the internet today.

El Reg contacted the Sunday Times for comment on the notice, but we have yet to hear back at the time of publication.

One of the article's authors, Tom Harper, did little to help his paper's case when, in an interview with CNN, he offered little in the way of evidence to back up his story. He told the world: "We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government." Oh dear. ®

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