Our moderators have closed a bunch of threads pertaining to Hera Bell's alleged photo theft, and I'd like to clarify some things here.
First, the initial closing of threads came about in part as a result of crossposting. The anonymous crossposting of multiple redundant threads is not allowed on our site. When those threads are attacking someone (anyone), our initial reaction is always going to be to close things and/or move them to moderation untill we understand what is going on.
Second, this is not an issue of "free speech". I understand that someone who has been wronged will want things to be righted, sometimes by any means. However, just as you have no right to trespass into each of your neighbors' homes and nail a sign to their living room wall to criticize some third party who did you wrong, you don't have the right to post anything you want in every privately owned space on the internet. Each site has an owner and staff that determine what is acceptable on that site.
Third, the moderator team on our site is still discussing how to handle this situation. We have not made any final decision to disallow discussion of this topic. We are trying to figure out how we can have a discussion where members can have a productive conversation about these issues (copyright, photo theft, etc) without our site discussion being dominated by fighting, accusation. We try to maintain a friendly site, and our small volunteer staff do not have the time to monitor a thread characterized by a lynch mob mentality. None of us signed up for that.
Fourth, those who want to get "vigilante justice" have gotten it already. A Google search for the alleged perpetrator's name brings up the Reddit thread as result #2. That damage, deserved or not, is serious and permanent.
Fifth and last for now, we take copyright issues very seriously on our site, and when there is any question of copyright infringement, we err on the side of the artist/photographer/copyright holder. In fact, many people think our copyright policy is too strict. I received a copyright complaint today about Hera's gallery on our site and deleted her nearly 300 photos from our servers as a precaution. If anyone feels that her remaining posts (or anyone else's posts) in our forums contain any embedded photos which infringe your copyright, please either report the post or email me
, and that those photos will be taken down immediately. Again, I am making any claims with regards to Hera's guilt or innocence - only stating that in cases of alleged copyright infringement, we remove the photos, period.