BBC denies asking YouTube to shut down two pro-independence channels in copyright row

Stuart Campbell, editor and founder of Wings over Scotland. Picture: Contributed
Stuart Campbell, editor and founder of Wings over Scotland. Picture: Contributed
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The BBC has denied it asked YouTube to shut down two pro-independence accounts on the video uploading giant’s website in a row over copyright.

Two prominent Nationalist bloggers alleged their YouTube channels, which featured dozens of videos including BBC content taken from various current affairs shows, were suspended without warning last weekend.

Stuart Campbell, who runs the Wings over Scotland website, claimed the BBC had “gone on a crusade against pro-independence sites” by “suddenly launching mass takedown demands”.

Mr Campbell said the videos uploaded to the Wings over Scotland channel on YouTube were “in full compliance with fair-use laws”.

He continued: “You are absolutely allowed to record and reproduce clips for news-reporting and discussion purposes.

“So we can only speculate as to why the BBC wants to close down pro-independence sites hosting clips of Unionist politicians – and the BBC itself – saying incriminating or embarrassing things.”

In a statement, the BBC said any decision to suspend or take down an individual channel was the responsibility of YouTube alone.

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A BBC spokesperson told The Scotsman: “Whenever we receive complaints about large volumes of our material being posted or used without authorisation we look to take action to protect our copyright.

“This action is normally limited to asking for individual videos to be removed and the BBC did not ask or demand for these whole channels to be taken down. That was a decision for YouTube alone.

“We act irrespective of the political views of the infringing YouTube channels and have taken action against the use of our material by individuals or organisations from across the political spectrum. There is a standard process in place if these channels wish to challenge the take down orders and we will consider any representations carefully.”

Mr Campbell told The Scotsman: “The situation now is that all of the contested videos have had counter-notices filed asserting fair use, and the BBC have 14 business days to prove to YouTube that they’ve begun legal action, or they’ll be reinstated.”

Another pro-independence blogger, Peter Curran, reported that his videos had been removed as a result of BBC takedown requests.

In response to these takedowns, Peter Curran tweeted: “The #BBC has now ended my YouTube channel - or any YouTube channel by me (YT has also blocked my #MoriduraAlt channel, which has no political clips). This is UK’s public broadcaster, in the name of profit (ostensibly), claiming copyright on news and the words of politicians.

“I await some indication of support from SNP MPs and #SPS over the BBC shutting down my YouTube channel by a sudden rash of copyright strikes. Many of them regularly used it over its 9-year life: some have gained a useful additional and extended life of clips from it.

He added: “I’m in Catch 22 over BBC copyright strikes on my YT channel. Since I can’t access my channel, I can’t verify or dispute the accuracy of the alleged breaches. To my knowledge and belief, I acted within the rules on all notifications from Google, never monetized, disabled embedding.”