Sean Manchester, 70, “Britain’s only full-time vampire hunter,” has forced us to remove three photographs from Erin Chapman’s article “Seeking Vampires in London” (Nov. 16, 2014) citing copyright violation.
The photographs were taken from his book, The Highgate Vampire: The Infernal World of the Undead Unearthed at London’s Famous Highgate Cemetery and Environs (1985), which details his investigation of the Highgate Vampire; a supernatural being Manchester allegedly tracked down, staked and cremated in the backyard of an abandoned neo-gothic mansion in Crouch End, December 1973.
Manchester submitted a “Notification of Copyright or DMCA Infringement Complaint” to our web host on Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. We removed the photographs on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, shortly after receiving Manchester’s notification through our web host; he had not contacted us directly. The pictures in Erin’s article were replaced with modified uploads.
Which Photos Did Manchester Want Removed?
The three photographs, taken in Highgate Cemetery c. 1970, were paired with recent photographs taken at the same locations. In order to explain their relevance to Erin’s article, I will give a bit of backstory for each one. Let’s begin with the first two photographs, which are found in Manchester’s book on page 61.
They were included along with their original captions: “Entering the tomb of the Highgate Vampire shortly before the ritual to cease its nightly wanderings” and “The exorcised vault, bricked up and sealed with garlic — but was the vampire still within?”
Though not named in Manchester’s book, his photographs render the tomb easily identifiable as the family vault of Charles Fisher Wace (1807–1872). Manchester’s photographs were joined with a photograph of the vault Erin took during her visit to Highgate Cemetery on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, to confirm our identification.
Manchester alleges he and three assistants “put our shoulders to the old doors” (1985, page 54) in August 1970, and forced their way into the tomb. Manchester allegedly found the Highgate Vampire resting inside and intended to stake it before being convinced not to on sacrilegious and legal grounds by his associates.
He settled for an impromptu exorcism and “Upon [his] recommendation the entrance to the vault was permanently bricked-up. Garlic was included in the cement used in sealing the only exit” (1985, page 58); an unlikely scenario considering the cemetery caretakers’ view on vampire hunters.
In fact, William Law, the cemetery’s superintendent, called them “nutcases” in an interview with Laurence Picethly, suggesting they be punished by locking them inside the tombs overnight. Law’s comments were made in context with tomb vandalism in Highgate Cemetery, partially fuelled by rumours the cemetery was haunted by a vampire, as seen in the following news segment from BBC’s 24 Hours program (Oct. 15, 1970):
Manchester was lucky: his former associate, David Farrant, was convicted of tomb raiding in 1974 and sentenced to jail. Rather than show any gratitude or humility for not enduring a similar punishment, Manchester shamelessly rehashes Farrant’s criminal history on various blogs to undermine Farrant’s credibility at the expense of his own; a manifestation of their bitter feud.
The third photograph from Manchester’s book used in Erin’s article was the one he captioned: “Lusia points to the spot where her sleep-walk ended — before the large iron door which could not be opened but beyond which lay three empty coffins” (1985, page 31).
“Lusia” was the name Manchester gave a 22-year-old woman he met during the course of his supposed investigation. Manchester alleges she was a victim of the Highgate Vampire; her sleep-walking, compelled by the vampire’s Dracula-like hold, supposedly lead to its resting place in the cemetery’s terrace catacombs. But there is a major flaw in Manchester’s photograph.
Gareth Medway, the British Psychic and Occult Society’s vice president, replicated Lusia’s pose in a photograph taken during his visit to the cemetery on Sunday, March 27, 2011. The photograph was published in David Farrant’s Human Touch blog post, “The Wrong Tomb!” (March 28, 2011), which elaborates:
[Sean Manchester] was going on an erroneous assumption that the Julius Beer mausoleum was in fact an entrace [sic] to the Terraced Catacombs towering some 20 feet above. He failed to release [sic] that the Julius Beer vault was completely self-contained and that the entrance (Gareth is pointing to) was in fact, a ‘dead end’. Or in other words, the ‘sleeping Lusia’ had been asked to pose outside the wrong vault!
Manchester’s Lusia photograph was paired with the Medway photograph in Erin’s article to demonstrate the accuracy of Farrant’s statement; the juxtaposition verifies it. Indeed, Manchester’s misrepresentation of the tomb Lusia’s pointing at cannot be dismissed as a one-off “mistake” either.
The same Lusia photograph is reproduced in The Highgate Vampire: The Infernal World of the Undead Unearthed at London’s Highgate Cemetery and Environs (1991), the revised edition of Manchester’s 1985 book, with a shorter caption: “Lusia at the catacombs where her sleep-walk ended” (1991, page 72).
Unfortunately, Manchester was unable to save her from the vampire’s predations. The implication of her death from either “a form of leukaemia” (1985, page 120) or “a blood disorder” (1991, page 155) was clearly intended as a hint towards her vampiric return; which manifested in the form of sexually violent dreams:
I can still see her swaying to and fro, caressing her silky skin in rhythm. I raise the wooden stake in my hand only to have her snatch it from me and commence a ferocious masturbation which leaves her spurting blood out of every orifice at the moment of orgasm. At this point I would awake. (1985, page 128)
Probably stuck to the sheets. Manchester claims he conducted a necromantic ritual at Lusia’s grave at Great Northern London Cemetery in 1982 to summon her. She appeared as a giant spider, Manchester staked her; a scene demonstrably ripped-off from Terence Fisher’s 1968 film, The Devil Rides Out (“The Mystery of Luisa [sic], Pt. 3,” Did a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?, July 9, 2009).
Lusia represents other significant “plot holes” in Manchester’s Highgate Vampire narrative, present since the story’s birth. For instance, “Lusia” was billed “Jacqui Frances” in her first appearance as the vampire’s victim: Manchester’s Witchcraft magazine article, “The World of the Vampire” (1973) (“An Interesting Find,” DAWWAIH?, Jan. 21, 2012). That article is also the key to establishing Lusia’s true identity.
Lusia’s real name is Jacqueline Frances (or Francis) Cooper. Manchester and “Lusia” never consummate their mutual desire in his narratives. In reality, Manchester and Jacqueline “Lusia” Cooper were in an adulterous relationship while he was still married to his first wife, Marie Manchester (née Ryan).
You probably haven’t heard of Mrs. Manchester. That’s because Manchester doesn’t mention her at all in his narrative, despite their marriage impinging on the timeframe Manchester was supposedly investigating the Highgate Vampire. Instead, Manchester has tried phasing her from existence.
For the record, Cooper did not die of a “form of leukaemia” or a “blood disorder” little alone turn into a vampire: she was co-respondent on Mr. and Mrs. Manchesters’ divorce certificate, signed Monday, Jan. 7, 1980 (Don Ecker, “My Inquiry into the Highgate Vampire Case,” [page 16]).
Manchester is currently married to his second wife, Sarah, who he claims to have rescued from a Satanic cult; a story you can buy for £4.50 plus shipping
Why Did Manchester Want the Photographs Removed?
Before I answer this question, some background on Manchester will be pertinent. For starters, he is very protective of his intellectual copyright, frequently issuing bloggers and webmasters with copyright infringement notices. His notices can be viewed on Chilling Effects, a database of copyright infringement claims. He issues the notices under his own name or through his vanity publisher, Gothic Press.
There is nothing wrong with an author claiming such rights, of course. The problem is Manchester frequently steals content from other people for his websites and blogs, without giving any attribution to the sources of this theft. He has stolen content from me, Wikipedia, Answers.com, the Catholic Encyclopedia, the British National Party blog, even sermons from other bishops.
Yes, Manchester is a bishop; specifically the bishop of an obscure sect he founded called Ecclesia Apostolica Jesu Christi, also known as the Church of the Holy Grail. Manchester claims his church is “autocephalous“, which means he runs it independently of other churches, making him unaccountable to any ecclesiastical authority. What they’d have to say about his constant theft is one thing, but there is a much darker aspect to Manchester’s suppressive behaviour.
The bishop is well-known for waging incredibly petty and malicious smear campaigns against people who criticise his claims. His church website even has a page dedicated to his archnemesis, David Farrant. If his church was not autocephalous, his title would likely be revoked.
Nonetheless, Manchester does like to maintain the façade of being a “traditionalist Christian,” which is why he uses sockpuppets to cover his tracks when not deferring to simpler tactics like deleting evidence. In Internet parlance, a “sockpuppet” is “a false identity assumed by a member of an Internet community who spoke to, or about, themselves while pretending to be another person.”
“B.O.S.” is one of Manchester’s sockpuppets and also the author of a blog called Hoggwatch. “B.O.S.” is short for “British Occult Society,” a group Manchester dissolved on Monday, August 8, 1988. Manchester has used Hoggwatch as his primary platform to stalk, harass and malign me since creating it 2012, as part of his larger smear campaign efforts against me.
Manchester’s smear campaigns against me began in 2006, when I founded my own forum to discuss the Highgate Vampire case in order to escape the heavy-handed censorship practised on his forums (“My Number One Fan,” The Vampirologist, April 30, 2014).
The author of Hoggwatch was originally listed as “Vebjørn Hästehufvud” before changing his Blogger profile name to “B.O.S.” after I rumbled him. I kept tabs on Hästehufvud’s name changes which left a handy paper trail back to Manchester.
The smoking gun was Manchester’s intellectual property claim against me for hosting a link to Hoggwatch on my Facebook group; Manchester submitted the report under his real name. Ironically, I had posted it as as an example of “despicable tactics used to attack me and my research” (“Suspended from Posting to Facebook for Three Days,” DAWWIH?, Nov. 26, 2013).
Irony has never been Manchester’s strong suit: the blog also featured two photos of me he’d stolen from my Hotmail and Blogger accounts, respectively. Manchester’s latest Hoggwatch contribution, an image post called “Hogg’s Copyright Theft” (Nov. 19, 2014), relates to the “Notification of Copyright or DMCA Infringement Complaint” he issued against this website.
One of the pictures featured in Manchester’s image post (“Censored: Sean Manchester does not want you to see these photos . . .”) was stolen from a revised photo I amended to Erin’s “Seeking Vampires in London” article. The text embedded in the remainder of Manchester’s post refers to the image he stole from Erin’s article:
he [I] posted in their place the text . . . claiming that Seán Manchester does not want you to see the images. In fact, the author of the book is not censoring anything and his happy to have the photographs read by those who acquire a copy.
Manchester continues: “He [Manchester] is not willing to allow his copyright material to be infringed by a trouble-maker when others have had to pay money to read his account and view the VRS [Vampire Research Society] archive images within.” Manchester’s third person diatribe is undermined by two key points.
First, Manchester does not care about intellectual property rights as a universal concept. He would not devote so much time and energy to violating other people’s intellectual property, including mine, if he did. Manchester is a garden variety hypocrite; albeit one with financial motivation as his “pay money” comment attests. As an allegedly Christian bishop, Manchester would be familiar with the faith’s view on hypocrisy (“100 Bible Verses about Hypocrisy,” OpenBible.info).
Second, the “spokesperson” tone exhibited by Manchester’s “B.O.S.” sockpuppet is nullified by Manchester’s official word about those who speak on his behalf: “Nobody is authorised to speak in my stead,” a statement published under his real name on his questions and answers blog. (“From DNA to Demons,” Bishop † Seán † Manchester, Aug. 14, 2009).
So why did Manchester issue the copyright notices against our site, despite brazen hypocrisy and petty maliciousness? Control. Control of information and its spread. Eliminating criticism. Manchester’s suppressive tactics echo those alleged of the Church of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, by his son in a Penthouse interview called “Inside the Church of Scientology: An Exclusive Interview with L. Ron Hubbard, Jr.” (June 1983):
My father drilled into all of us: Don’t go to court thinking to win a lawsuit. You go to court to harass, to delay, to exhaust the enemy financially, physically, mentally. You file every motion you can think of and you just lock them up in court. The courts, for my father, were never used to seek justice or redress, put to destroy the people he thought were enemies, to prevent negative stories from appearing. He just wanted complete control of the press –and got it.
Manchester does not issue lawsuits; instead, he harangues web hosts who don’t know any better. It’s free, easy and considering the Internet’s reach, what better way to suppress criticism than waving legal sabres at web hosts scared of litigation? Kevin Chesham, Manchester’s former friend, spoke up about Manchester’s online behaviour in the following extract from his upcoming autobiography:
I remember one occasion when Sean laughingly waved a piece of paper at me, which he kept beside the computer in the front room. He boasted about the list of aliases inscribed upon it, and how he used them regularly in a form of cyber warfare, in that, as he described it, he would search the internet for any forum which mentioned himself, David Farrant, or the Highgate Vampire. His modus operandi as he described it was to create an argument, then argue against it under up to 4 or 5 aliases until the conversation got so heated that the forum was closed down. He bragged that he had had ‘many successes’, especially when he used the ‘incitement to religious hatred card’ as he laughingly referred to it. Sean’s justification for complaining to all internet forums where David Farrant’s opinions about the supposed ‘Highgate Vampire’ were freely admitted, was framed in the words of Adolf Hitler: ‘As soon as by one’s own propaganda even a glimpse of right on the other side is admitted, the cause for doubting one’s own right is laid.’ I remember this was another favourite quote of his.
Why is Manchester so successful in his suppressive efforts? There are two reasons. The first relates to legal ignorance. Consider Alex Lucard’s experience, detailed in his Icon. Showstoppah. Main Eventah. blog post, “What Everyone Has Been Waiting to Hear” (Dec. 12, 2006):
[Manchester] would complain to LJabuse that his name was showing up in my LJ [LiveJournal] and that it was an invasion of his privacy. Never mind that all these conversations were started by him or because of his stalking, or that the comments he was complaining about were often HIS OWN. Somehow he decided a public figure shouldn’t be talked about negatively. Even though every court on earth has laughed him right out of it every time he’s whined.
So of course this means LJabuse, the group of volunteers who enforced a Draconian order over Livejournal, decided to agree with him simply because “they had never heard of him.” This began a six month battle where I offered them legal definitions, books by and about him, transcripts of shows he was in and even court precedent and legal papers showing he was a public figure and that they were merely helping him harass me out of ignorance and foolish pride that wouldn’t allow them to admit they were wrong.
The second reason relates to the claim process itself. If you are issued with a copyright infringement notice, you can actually issue a counter-notice to dispute it, if you have used copyrighted material in a “fair” way (more on that shortly). The problem is, the process involved in issuing a counter-claim is ripe for abuse by malicious claimants.
While I was holidaying in Adelaide last year, a friend sent me an SMS letting me know one of my WordPress blogs was no longer accessible; WordPress shut it down after a succession of DMCA takedown notices Manchester issued against it. (“Downfall,” DAWWIH?, Jan. 19, 2013). They offered me the chance to counter-file his takedown notices—if I submitted my personal information, which would then be forwarded to him, should he wish to counter-counter challenge my claim.
Do you see the problem here? Manchester is a stalker. He collates personal information on his critics then publicly distributes it under sockpuppets. He would love to have a critic’s personal details and is even known to do much worse with them than mere public distribution, as attested by David Farrant’s book, Pact with the Devil (2010).
I raised these issues with WordPress, even offering to hand my details over to them instead of him, but they had their hands tied: they had to follow the counter-claim process. Nonetheless, they sympathised with my plight allowing me enough time to not only recover my blog so it could be hosted elsewhere, but also sent me a link to Paul Sieminski’s WordPress blog post “Striking Back Against Censorship” (Nov. 21, 2013). Here’s a sample:
The DMCA system gives copyright holders a powerful and easy-to-use weapon: the unilateral right to issue a takedown notice that a website operator (like Automattic) must honor or risk legal liability. The system works so long as copyright owners use this power in good faith. But too often they don’t, and there should be clear legal consequences for those who choose to abuse the system.
In other words, the law needs to change. In the meantime, we have complied with Manchester’s request to remove the images, in accordance with the terms of service outlined by our website’s host. If we had not complied, our web host would have shut down our site; something Manchester would have anticipated.
What Manchester probably didn’t anticipate was the counter-notification we filed against him on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014.
What We’re Doing About Manchester’s Notification
Manchester owns his images. They’re his copyright, there’s no way around that. However, there is a clause which allows the legal use copyrighted images and works (to an extent). The best proviso under which a counter-notifications can be issued is “Fair Use,” which is:
a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author’s work under a four-factor balancing test.
Fair use is outlined in “17 U.S. Code § 107 – Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use.” Fair use is an invaluable safeguard against over-protective and malicious complainants. It’s not just useful for articles like Erin’s “Seeking Vampires in London,” it’s beneficial for all writers, journalists, artists, teachers and students. As Shawn Martin says in his PennWIC blog post, “What is ‘Fair Use’ and Why Should I Care?” (Nov. 27, 2013):
Without fair use, universities, newspapers, TV programs, artists, and many others would have to ask permission for every time they have used another person’s idea. Without fair use, Google would have to pay someone every time a sentence from a website appears in search results. You would have to pay every time you quote someone’s work. Musicians would have to pay every time they re-mix an album. In other words, creative and intellectual exercises would be next to impossible.
In case you’re worried about people going to town on your own intellectual property, be mindful that “Fair Use” cannot be used lightly: there are several criteria “Fair Use” must address. Read the code for more info. Fair use laws will vary per country; check local ordinances. There’s no way around submitting personal details, though: those have been handed over. If they appear online, the source will be easy to trace.
Regarding Manchester’s claim against us, we believe we have acted fairly and within the law. Our counter-notification ticks several boxes in the “Fair Use” requirement, specifically in context with the “criticism” and “comment” criteria. We have done our part in accordance with our web host’s counter-notification requirements. Now, we wait and see what happens next.
Did you know Sean Manchester’s Highgate Vampire story is largely based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897)? It’s true! “Lusia”…Lucy Westenra… see? Check out Sam Perrin’s Spamosphere blog post, “Bram Stoker vs Highgate Cemetery” (Nov. 12, 2010) for more startling connections!
Make sure you read Trystan Swales’ excellent Mysterious Times article, “The Highgate Vampire – An Exercise in Deception?” (March 27, 2014), too. If you want, check out my Highgate Vampire blog (the one that’s survived Manchester’s censorship efforts), Did a Wampyr Walk in Highgate? and feel free to join my Highgate Vampire Facebook group.
If you want to discuss the case online, though, read my Public Service Announcement first. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!