Edited by Peter
In 2013 I started to make a series of videos critical of the AIDS denialist documentary ‘House of Numbers’ because I believed it to be a very real threat to public health. This is because among other things it encourages people to stop taking HIV medication, tells them that HIV tests don’t work, and implied that HIV can’t be transmitted through heterosexual sex. I ended up making a total of 9 videos on the subject, yet felt like I had barely scratched the surface as the documentary was bursting with examples of deceitful editing, flat-out lies, and scientists being quoted out-of-context.
All was going well as I was making the videos until I published the fifth video when I received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Soon after I received 4 more and, because of YouTube’s 3-strikes-in-6-months-and-you’re-out policy, it was looking like my channel and all my videos were going to be deleted. Rather than taking it quietly, I reached out to the YouTube community and was truly overwhelmed by the response. I was also put in contact with lawyers, both here in the UK and in the US, who fought my case pro-bono and within a month the whole situation was resolved allowing me to finish my series of videos – leaving those who filed the DMCAs to hobble away with their tail tucked between their legs.
Unfortunately, as things were coming to a close on YouTube, elsewhere online they were taking a nasty turn. One of the members of the AIDS denialist Facebook fan page Rethinking AIDS stumbled upon my personal information, including where I worked, and made it public. At the time, I was keeping everyone updated with my situation here on my website and in one post talked about the doc-dropping and named the person who did it. To my surprise, I soon received an email from this chap who, without any sense of irony, was angry that I named him and was demanding £3,300 in compensation. Not only that, but he was demanding payment within 14 days or he would take me to court.
At first I ignored him knowing that he did not have a legal leg to stand on, but then he began to bother me via email and even had the audacity to send me not one, but two paypal invoices. I thought to be on the safe side I would send it on to one of the people who were helping me legally at the time, who immediately got back to me saying that I should have some fun with this guy. I asked what his full terms and conditions were and he basically said that he still wanted the £3,300, but would be kind enough to extend the deadline by another two weeks. Now that I had him biting, I had to reel him in!
“I have been thinking and I know this sounds crazy but how do I know you really are Goldsmith?!?! You could be some random person trying to scam me who set up a fake email/facebook etc.
I know what Goldsmith looks like and I have watched some of his videos so if we are going to take this any further I want you to send me a picture of you from today.”
to which he replied
“That does sound a little paranoid.
I have sent you a message to your Myles Power Facebook page from my Facebook account that is also linked to my Youtube account with a screen shot of the original email I sent to you. My Facebook account has been set up for a few years. Sending a photo proves nothing.”
At this point I knew I had him but I wanted to see how far I could take it.
“It takes nothing to fake a Facebook profile or to change an existing one and you can link whatever youtube page you want to it. You are correct about the photo as it would prove nothing unless it is one of you specifically doing something that I asked. I don’t think this is unreasonable considering the large amounts of money we are talking about and how easy it would be to fake being someone online.
To prove it’s you I want a picture that you would not find online and something that’s so different that it would unequivocally prove it’s you. I want a picture of you doing the Vulcan (from Star Trek) hand sign. And i also don’t think it’s unfair to ask for this be the end of the day. “
Part of me thought that this would never work and nobody can be so stupid as to let themselves be trolled like this……but I was wrong.
The picture was accompanied by a threat saying that I had until the end of the day to pay. A few emails went back and forth between us before I decided to comply with his demands.
I have thought about it long and hard and I think I can make you an offer that both of us will be happy about. Instead of paying you £3,300 I have drawn you a picture of £3,300.
I hope this is acceptable.”
Naturally, he was not very happy and, once again, demanded money. He had a dig at my drawing skills.
“Although quite a good picture it lacks quality and detail, I would award you about 5/10 for originality and effort. I look forward to your decision, this has become quite tedious. “
Not wanting to piss him off any further, I sent the following response, trying to build a bridge and show that I was not rip him off.
“I think the problem here might be that you think I am trying to fob you off with a picture of a wad of £5 notes, which would be worth considerably less than £3,300. I have added colour to my picture so you know it is a wad of £50 notes – and thus the full amount you were asking for.”
“Very good likeness there but still not good enough still hovering around the 5 out of 10 mark. Here is a good test for your picture, if Paypal accept your picture as payment for the invoice I sent to you and that they recognise your invoice as paid, then I will also recognise it as such. “
“What if I laminated it? Would you accept it then?”
At this point, he said that he no longer wanted to play and that all this time he had wanted to donate the money to an AIDS charity, which I don’t believe for a second. I decided it was time to tag one of the people who had been helping me legally, who sent him an email saying that what he had done would be considered harassment and if he continues we would be taking this further. Needless to say, I never heard a peep out of him again and the invoices he sent me were cancelled.
Although the very short time in my life when this was happening was a little on the miserable side, I always look back at this series of emails with a smile.