Scott Pilutik

I am an attorney and consultant living and working in Manhattan, focusing primarily on church/state constitutional law. I'm a recognized expert on the Church of Scientology organization. I also have strong interests in intellectual property law where it intersects with emerging media, and free speech.

I support the efforts of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU, Creative Commons, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I am a member of the New York County Lawyers Association and the New York State Bar Association. I also enjoy (watching) hockey and (doing) photograhy.

Online I can be found on Facebook, Twitter. My resume can be viewed here. I can be reached by phone at 212.645.6241 or by e-mail at pilutik[at]gmail.com.

Hillsong misuses copyright law to create distance between itself and religious fraudster Guglielmucci

The following contains every element necessary for a good story: religious fraud, pornography, and copyright abuse.
As Wikipedia puts it, “Michael Guglielmucci is a former pastor and songwriter with some of Australia’s biggest youth churches…,” specifically Hillsong Church, which is affiliated with Assemblies of God Pentacostal denomination, and for which Guglielmucci wrote and recorded numerous songs, which Hillsong published. One of Guglielmucci’s songs (which were apparently quite popular within the Christian youth demographic) drew direct inspiration from Guglielmucci’s revelation that he had an aggressive form of cancer. The song, “Healer,” was a huge hit:

Healer became an anthem of faith for believers, many of whom are suffering illnesses and were praying for Mr Guglielmucci.
The song, featured on Hillsong’s latest album, debuted at No. 2 on the ARIA charts.
In a YouTube video, he tells how the news from the hospital that he had “quite an aggressive form of cancer” inspired his song. “I just went home. I knew I had to go home and needed to get alone with God,” he says in the video.

Except Guglielmucci didn’t have cancer, which has led to a police investigation (Guglielmucci has been soliciting and receiving donations), and some degree of embarrassment on Hillsong’s part.
Somewhat hilariously, Guglielmucci’s father, when interviewed, chose to blame his son’s need to perpetrate religious musical fraud on his addiction to internet pornography, a connection I don’t quite see, no matter how much I squint.
And here’s where the story gets interesting. Even though videos of the song have been littered all over Youtube for awhile now, Hillsong has issued DMCA takedown requests on all the videos. Copies of the video, some which had received up to 300,000 views, now read:

This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Hillsong Publishing

A good friend of mine, Deana Holmes, edited the video down (which shows Guglielmucci on stage, introducing Healer with an oxygen tube inserted in his nostrils) and put it up on Youtube, which is the copy embedded below.
While I don’t think the video needed Deana’s insightful commentary in order to bulletproof it as fair use, her commentary does supply some welcome context. I’ll cheerfully host a full copy of the video (which can be seen here, at least for the moment) because publication of the entire song, at this point, falls under fair use–the video’s newsworthiness as evidence of Guglielmucci’s fraud trumps whatever copyright interest Hillsong has in controlling the publication of existing copies, so long as Hillsong’s apparent interest is in burying its own shame in the deceit. See DMCA sec. 512(f), and Deibold v. OPG, 337 F. Supp. 2d 1195 (N.D. Cal. 2004) . Realize that I’m not accusing Hillsong of participating in Guglielmucci’s fraud, only that they are misusing copyright law to distance itself from the entire unholy mess.

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