BBC in Big Brother Enforcement Move?

News Article Opinion by Solon Scotland

BBC Steps into Dangerous Territory as Two Prominent Scottish Independence Platforms are affected by You Tube Copyright Violation Complaints.

Two pro independence on line platforms have seen their You Tube channels either shut down or suspended this weekend in an apparent copyright complaint made by the BBC that news items have been uploaded and breach BBC copyright.

This will raise alarm bells amongst small media companies and individual bloggers and social media news commentators in a move which seems destined to question BBC impartiality and raise serious questions about copyright in relation to what is effectively the state news broadcaster.

BBC will cite that in simple copyright terms that you cannot upload or reproduce or use other individuals/companies content without their authorisation, otherwise you would likely be breaching their copyright. This seems straightforward for Katy Perry’s latest single, or a photographers personal work or a journalists individual news item, but a snippet of BBC news uploaded to social media is now in the same copyright field?

In the first instance the BBC is funded by the people of the U.K. via the licence fee so some will argue their is a case for some ownership of that said content within reason and in the public interest/fair use? Yes it can’t be reproduced or uploaded for financial benefit or misuse or damage to the brand, but it is news that we all technically can claim some ownership of, and secondly we pay for it to be produced at source as licence payers.

There may be arguments that the BBC is an individual company, that it is a trademark etc., and that it is entitled to use copyright protection the same as any other individual or organisation but this is dangerous territory to simply use the copyright laws by wholesale proxy in an area which is open to dispute?

Why did the BBC not contact the accounts in question directly in the first instance to advise of a copyright infringement and ask for removal?

Was their a political motivation in the action? if so this issue will surely escalate over time with a further damaging of public confidence in both the BBC and mainstream media.

There are now questions to be asked from a political perspective and public right to know standards.

Is this a policy which has been in 100% use against any violations long term on other accounts, or have the two sites in question been targeted specifically?

If it is not a wholesale accross the board policy then someone in authority at the BBC should be asked to answer some questions about this case and their policy in general.

Has the BBC been prodded from political sources to remove the said material in question as it would be beneficial for certain groups not to have it viewable to a large audience? It is highly unlikley this would be admitted (even if true) and it is practically impossible to prove in any case without a first party statement, but the suspicions will arise and increase.

If the BBC are saying no one can now upload any news item and that this is simply copyright rules being enforced so that they can protect their brand, then they are going to be extremely busy and indeed they may find a range of wider conflict arising in terms of social media and copyright interaction. Social media and sharing in relation to copyright has massive overlaps. The action taken in this instance has done nothing for the BBC Brand reputation and has not technically protected copyright from financial deficits either. The news article in question could easily be worked around by third parties so it seems a pointless action by BBC unless it is politically motivated?

The internet is awash with shared material from third party sources, indeed many will argue that news reproduction isn’t the same ball park as blatantly using a photographers image, a bands music or a writers words….and again the key point here is that we are talking about the news media from the company that we personally fund from taxes via the government.

Another question that must be asked is, why from a public relations perspective would they not in the first instance have directly contacted the accounts in question and asked for removal of items deemed copyright infringements? By going directly to You Tube and citing a number of violations in one instance they would know that the channel in question might well be shut down or at least suspended. Where is the attempt at mitigation as a first step and which is normally made in minor copyright infringements?

Again one might ask, is this a political motivated instance, hiding behind strict copyright and You Tube rules conveniently?

If that is the case there are much bigger more serious questions at play which not only affect these two accounts, they affect news and social media in general, they affect the very nature of freedom of speech, democracy and open media.

By choosing not to contact the individuals they effectively by-passed the opportunity of mitigation for the accounts in question, and worse the You Tube accounts if completely closed could loose other valuable information on their channels.

Would this course of action work in any other area of law eg a crime, …no chance for redress or discussion…bang you are out of the game?

There is also a question of what this particular policy achieves in terms of copyright protection since it is almost unenforceable and has no financial benefit to the BBC? Minor news stories will be almost worthless within a day? Who is going to buy old news if anyone?

Thousands of people on social media will also be using and sharing the almost same material daily even if they are not necessarily uploading it. The items the BBC cited as violations could easily be uploaded on proxy servers, untraceable websites, random you tube accounts (and then shared to another you tube account in a playlist). You Tube, Facebook & Twitter accounts can be created with simply an email address…anyone could have BBC videos in playlists on a You Tube channel without uploading them to that account directly – they could be displayed from a secondary account for example?

The same videos could also easily be displayed by anyone on a Twitter account using just a url address and thereby they are not technically uploading the video. That method is used widespread on Twitter by indivduals and media people alike. Videos can be displayed almost as embedded in a tweet simply via a linking method, so what is it that the BBC is aiming for here?

Serious questions need to be asked and guidelines need to be framewoked for us all!
Reproducing and interacting with news on social media isn’t generally about deliberatley violating copyright laws, its about social interaction and discussion.

On a wider scale many may start to ask if social media will come under threat from those groups in power who wish to diminish its freedom for the masses to question the old hierarchical order?

Producing news media as the state funded broadcaster and then saying you dont want it replicated full stop might well have George Orwell drafting a follow up!

By Solon Scotland (Street Commentator)