(New York, NY) – PEN America has issued its concern over calls to censor Michael Moore’s film “Planet of the Humans,” and today responded to YouTube pulling the film over copyright concerns. PEN America’s Summer Lopez, senior director of free expression programs, said the following:

“The removal of ‘Planet of the Humans’ from YouTube in the midst of a controversy over its content raises concerns that those who disagree with the film may be attempting to keep it from public view. And while copyright protection is of critical importance to content creators, PEN America has concerns about the risk of copyright infringement claims being used as grounds to remove entire works from public view, even if the dispute relates to a tiny fraction of the content. We are also aware that YouTube’s takedown mechanism has been subject to abuse before, and that their copyright review process can be slow, resulting in the disappearance of content for long periods, even in the case of claims that may ultimately be resolved in favor of a work’s reinstatement to the platform.

“YouTube should take steps to ensure that this process is not used as a proxy to achieve removal of content that would not otherwise violate the platform’s terms of service. In this case, knowing that there have been calls to remove this video from circulation on the basis of the views expressed therein, we urge YouTube to expedite its review process and to restore the film to YouTube immediately if they judge it protected by fair use. We pass no judgement on the merits of the controversy over the content of the film, and appreciate that there may be genuine, well-taken disputes with its portrayals and message. But the answer isn’t to censor or suppress it. The public has a fundamental right to view this film, to hear all sides of the debate, and to come to their own conclusions. The response to contentious and challenging questions like those raised by both the film and its critics should be more speech, not silencing.”