A lawsuit against YouTube’s censorship of videos created by the conservative Prager University has gone to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appeal was filed by the web-based organization run by columnist and commentator Dennis Prager after a district judge dismissed the case.
Prager University describes itself as a “conservative nonprofit digital media organization that is associated with and presents the views of leading conservative experts on current and historical events.”
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh decided the organization did not successfully demonstrate YouTube infringed its free speech by restricting its videos by age.
The judge ruled internet giants, who have a virtual monopoly on web access and usage, weren’t “state actors” and so weren’t necessarily subject to the First Amendment’s provisions about “public forums” for speech.
The censorship fight developed because the social media company claimed some of the Prager U videos were inappropriate for some viewers.
Those include videos titled “Cops Are The Good Guys,” “Why American Must Lead,” “College Made Me a Conservative” and “What’s Wrong with E-Cigarettes?”
YouTube put a long list of videos under a restricted-access setting on its site, and Koh argued the defendants are “private entities” and essentially can do what they want.
Google, the YouTube owner, already had acknowledged that determining restrictions for videos can be subjective but declined to accept liability for its decisions.
WND reported the assertion that internet giants such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have declared war on conservatives was gaining strength.
Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh believes he has identified the ideology driving the internet giants.
“These people are pure – they would never think of themselves this way – but these are pure Stalinists. While they’re running around call[ing] Trump a Stalinist, they don’t even know what it really is,” he charged.
Prager, whose petition to fight back against YouTube’s censorship already has collected more than 511,000 signatures with a goal of 1 million, charges YouTube is restricting access to his work “simply because they present a conservative point of view.”
“Silicon Valley giants like YouTube continue to censor the ideas they don’t agree with,” he said. “They promote their leftist ideology and restrict conservative speech.”
Prager noted that Google’s response has been that his videos “aren’t appropriate for the younger audiendces.”
“There is no excuse for Google and YouTube censoring and restricting any PragerU videos, which are produced with the sole intent of educating people of all ages about America’s founding values,” Prager U said in a statement.
Prager U’s mission is to “explain and spread what we call ‘Americanism’ through the power of the internet.”
“Our five-minute videos are conservative sound bites that clarify profoundly significant and uniquely American concepts for more than 100 million people each year.”
Prager recently was involved in another controversy, when two UCLA professors tried to have him banished from participating in a symphony performance.
They asked people not to attend the concert where Prager was conducting.
The result was a standing ovation from a near capacity crowd that came to hear the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The censorship case, which began in U.S. District Court in California, seeks a declaratory judgment that the practices violate the Constitution, an injunction so that YouTube halts its practices, as well as compensatory, special and statutory damages, plus a civil penalty of $2,500 for each violation.
In addition to violations of the state and U.S. constitutions, the complaint claims violations of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the Lanham Act and other laws.
“Defendants’ wrongful actions were taken with oppression, fraud and/or malice. PragerU has repeatedly attempted to remedy the situation, and defendants have repeatedly refused to unrestrict or re-monetize plaintiff’s videos,” said the original complaint.