Sports enthusiasts watch games at a sports betting shop on July 15, 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya. (AFP/Simon Maina)

How U.S. copyright law is used to censor journalism globally

The Torch is a weekly newsletter from the Committee to Protect Journalists that brings you the latest press freedom and journalist safety news from around the world. Subscribe here.

In a case with disturbing implications for press freedom globally, CPJ’s Senior Africa Researcher Jonathan Rozen’s latest investigation found that web hosting services received emails falsely claiming to be from journalists citing U.S. copyright law, in what appeared to be a move to force news websites to remove a report on Kenya’s gambling industry. The strategy resembles other efforts to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to quash critical journalism online in other countries, from Nigeria to Nicaragua to Ecuador.

In a welcome move toward accountability in the case of slain Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, one of the suspects, Vincent Muscat, was sentenced to 15 years behind bars for his role, and two additional suspects have been indicted. “Maltese authorities should take all measures to ensure that all the perpetrators of this crime, including its masterminds, are brought to justice,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator.

Global press freedom updates

  • Bangladeshi writer Mushtaq Ahmed dies in jail; cartoonist Kabir Kishore allegedly abused in custody
  • Iranian journalist Nooshin Jafari begins 4-year jail term on propaganda and insult charges
  • Jammu and Kashmir police launch investigations into three journalists
  • CPJ condemns Malaysian court conviction, fine of Malaysiakini on contempt charges
  • Bangladeshi journalist Borhan Uddin Muzakkir dies of gunshot wounds after police, demonstrators open fire amid political clashes
  • Vietnamese reporter Phan Bui Bao Thy detained over critical Facebook posts
  • Journalists harassed, threatened with death over Ghana election coverage
  • Unidentified armed men ransack home of Ethiopian journalist Lucy Kassa, question her about conflict coverage
  • CPJ welcomes sentencing in 2018 arson attack on Serbian journalist Milan Jovanović
  • Trinidad and Tobago High Court rules police raid on newspaper violated constitutional press freedom rights


Last year, as the pandemic and civil unrest upended stability globally, CPJ documented one of the worst years for press freedom, with a record number of journalists behind bars and a sharp increase in murders of journalists. This week, CPJ published an interactive map highlighting these attacks in more detail; you can explore the data and stories of journalists imprisoned and killed around the world in 2020 here. And we published an accompanying safety note on ways journalists can help protect themselves when facing arrest or detention. Bookmark and share it here.

The journalist collaborative Forbidden Stories published a series of five videos about the Rappler stories that prompted the Philippines government crackdown on the outlet and its CEO and founder Maria Ressa. View the videos here and join our #HoldTheLine solidarity campaign.

A closer look | CPJ’s most-read features in February

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