BBC Worldwide have taken down from YouTube a video I made 7 years ago at the time of the first bombing of Gaza. It features the late Tony Benn’s magnificent indignation at the BBC’s refusal to show the Gaza charitable appeal. Takedowns of news clips, especially a blacking out of the video in all countries, are unusual these days. Most copyright disputes on YouTube are now settled by leaving the video up, banning adverts by the poster and/or reserving to the copyright holder the right to put ads themselves. The video is available again, if only temporarily, while I dispute the claim.
Here is my dispute:
“The subject of the video is to criticise the censorship of a charitable appeal by the same broadcaster that has made the copyright complaint. This is a legitimate and fair exercise of free speech, and satisfies the conditions for fair use. The video is not monetized, and therefore non-commercial, it is from a factual work (a news broadcast), and the amount used is only sufficient to show the indignation of the guest of the show in question at the censorship of the material. The ability of BBC Worldwide to profit from the sale of this 7-year-old news broadcast of an interview with a now deceased politician must be very small, and in any case is not impeded by the clip’s being cut into this video critique. It would be perfectly appropriate for BBC Worldwide to exercise its right to prevent the monetising of the video, which in any case we as producers have never done, but to take it down is an attack on free speech. Prior approval of the copyright holder for a usage which so clearly criticises that same copyright holder would clearly be impossible to obtain, and therefore the principle of fair use has been applied for this non–commercial work, for which there many precedents, not only deriving from the statutes governing YouTube, but also from UK case law regarding the public’s interest in critical material.”
I have won such copyright disputes before. The US legisIation permits re-mixing for critical purposes – it’s fairly well established. Might there be some other motivation for the takedown? Could it be Benn’s comment: “Let me be clear about this. People will DIE because of what the BBC has done”? Other BBC news clips on YouTube (unedited, without any critique, so straightforward “steals”) have been left unmolested, including one of the same clip I have used. Is the BBC’s problem precisely that their clip is contextualised, edited together with the aid appeal they censored, plus a devastating orphan’s story from Gaza?
Watch this space.