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To: Vijaya Gadde / Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead at Twitter

Ellen DeGeneres Cannot Ban Tweets

Dear Vijaya Gadde,

The Ellen DeGeneres Show and its representatives are using Twitter tools to actively abuse US copyright law, Twitter "Terms of Use" and Twitter "DMCA" legal reporting in successful, repeated and ongoing attempts to use Twitter to stifle my speech.

Twitter has not provided me with my legal right to counter-claim, or my legal right to notification of the party making the complaint. My video is protected by "fair use" Section 107 of the US Copyright Act.

Me and those who signed this petition, including leading copyright experts, petition to

1) immediately reinstate every instance of content taken down due to the fraudulent claims

2) compel those who fraudulently reported be held to Twitter terms they agreed to and be made to pay for legal time used by Twitter, and

3) have Twitter commit to working with advocacy groups like Color of Change and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to institute a system that no longer automatically acts in favor of corporations at the expense of individual publisher's speech.

Why is this important?

On Tuesday, October 7th 2019, Ellen DeGeneres shared a clip defending her friendship with George W Bush. The lecture reached 4 million television viewers and over 17 million Twitter viewers. In her lecture, Ellen and her writers skillfully erased the human rights issues her critics held up, and pretended that the critiques were about a liberal being friends with a conservative.

Youtube copy:
Facebook copy:
Instagram copy:

In response, I felt it was important to unerase the million Iraqis Bush harmed, and used the blue screen behind Ellen to reintroduce Bush's long gone victims and still suffering survivors. Shortly after this, the video was flagged by Ellen's legal team and immediately taken down by Twitter.

To do so, Ellen's team ignored multiple Twitter screens warning against flagging parody or commentary as copyright violations.

As other human rights defenders learned of this censorship, they began to upload their own copied versions of my video. Users with large and small followings refused to allow Iraqis to be erased this way, and have collectively put their accounts at risk in order to protest censorship.

Users with small and large following had reaching hundreds of thousands of views before also being taken down. These copies continue to be removed. And Ellen has successfully stifled what would have been the most viewed Twitter video that day.

Later, the person behind the Ellen's fraudulent enforcement was leaked to me by his colleague at Warner Bros. named Michael Bentkover, Director of Anti-Piracy Forensics. According to press, Mr. Bentkover has been abusing US copyright law for a decade with impunity. One Gizmodo article referred to him and his team as "copyright d###s, crooks and liars."

Twitter users believe that no one, not even Ellen and her half a billion dollar fortune, should be able to decide what we see and don't see. Twitter users believe that everyone should be held to the same standards. And Twitter users believe that when Twitter systems automatically favor the powerful, Twitter must work to apply law equally lest it be complicit in censorship by design.

Sincerely, Rafael Shimunov


Fair use checklist:

Twitter policy on liability for false claims:

Original content taken down after fraudulent report:

Sample of copies taken down after fraudulent report: (100K views) (6K views) (3K views) (67K views) (17K views)

Sample of copies under threat for fraudulent reports: (587K views) (46K views) (7.5K) (26K) (31K) (6K) (60K) (41K)

Media reshares (400K) (global television views)
Warner Bros. Copyright Clowns Take Five Spoons of Their Own Medicine
Gizmodo 9/12/11, Jesus Diaz



2019-10-16 13:07:13 -0700

Newsweek Op-Ed

"No talk show host or presidential debate will rewrite history, and we will make certain of that."

2019-10-14 18:20:14 -0700

Second Video, Ellen DeGeneres and unerasing Bush's Katrina legacy

2019-10-14 18:18:51 -0700

Now we're global, with Al Jazeera interviewing me about the videos.

"The simplest ideas can have the biggest impact."

2019-10-13 18:07:45 -0700

Artists like Corey Brickley are creating amazing illustrations from the frame of the video where Ellen DeGeneres lines up with Bush's Iraqi torture survivor.

2019-10-12 18:59:24 -0700

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

"It’s legitimately amazing that famous people and companies keep doing this. They keep using the DMCA to take down criticism, which always makes them look even worse than they did when the criticism was allowed to be seen."

2019-10-12 07:49:41 -0700

Popula (interview)

"I had to censor myself, ironically, because if I’d chosen those images, they wouldn’t have been seen: Modern images of the aftereffects, of children being born today, with fatal deformities and things like that, because of the war."

2019-10-12 07:48:28 -0700

Exclaim (Canada)

Someone Added Iraq War Images to Ellen's George W. Bush Defence and the video continues to spread despite takedown notices

2019-10-12 07:46:45 -0700

Pink News (UK)

Shimunov explained: “Users with large and small followings refused to allow Iraqis to be erased this way, and have collectively put their accounts at risk in order to protest censorship.

2019-10-12 06:06:17 -0700

NowThis News

2019-10-11 12:04:38 -0700

BuzzFeed News

"As illustrated by the A-list stars applauding Ellen DeGeneres’s friendship with George W. Bush and a “beautiful” video of Brandt Jean forgiving his brother’s killer, the most privileged among us too often prioritize positivity over justice."

"It’s not surprising, then, that Ellen’s monologue about Bush reduced her critics to a mob of angry Twitter users, as if a bunch of regular people professing their sincere concerns were grousing and griping for the hell of it. (Just a bunch of haters!) It appears as if Ellen’s staffers have been aggressively submitting copyright claims on social media in an attempt to kill a satirical video by Twitter user @rafaelshimunov, who edited Ellen’s monologue to include grisly footage of torture and human suffering during the Iraq War."

2019-10-11 12:01:26 -0700

LGBTQ Nation

Ellen is trying to silence an activist who called out her support of George Bush

2019-10-11 12:00:41 -0700

Fast Company

"No sooner did Shimunov’s video hit the internet on Tuesday afternoon than mass takedown notices began to appear, with claims of copyright infringement. And as history has proven time and time again, the more that somebody litigiously tries to prevent some devastating video from being seen, the more interest anyone has in it."

2019-10-11 11:59:26 -0700


"Devastating remix of Ellen's lecture on befriending George W. Bush disappears after copyright takedown ... then reappears in force"

2019-10-11 11:58:51 -0700

The Daily Dot

"An edited version of Ellen DeGeneres defending her friendship with George W. Bush is exploding in popularity online. The video shows DeGeneres’ unedited speech while a slideshow of the horrors from the Iraq War plays on the screen behind her. One standout moment occurs at the 1:05 mark of the video where DeGeneres matches the body language of an Abu Ghraib prisoner being tortured in an image behind her. "

2019-10-11 11:57:59 -0700

Business Insider Article on this campaign

Ellen DeGeneres is trying to block a video slamming her controversial friendship with George W. Bush, but it's gone viral

"A video satirizing Ellen DeGeneres' defense of her friendship with former US President George W. Bush by superimposing her over Iraq War imagery has gone viral after DeGeneres' team got it booted off Twitter over copyright infringement."