A great deal has been written about the closing down of the Wings and Moridura YouTube accounts, but there are a few points that I don't think have received enough attention yet. The BBC suggested in their statement that the initiative for targeting the two accounts did not come from themselves, but rather that they always take action on copyrighted content when they receive a sufficient number of complaints. This implies, somewhat implausibly, that dozens if not hundreds of public-spirited citizens have been spontaneously sending in complaints in an attempt to protect the BBC's copyright. If there's any truth at all to it, much more likely is that any complaints sent to the BBC were malicious and politically motivated. That would drive a coach and horses through the BBC's insistence that they take action on copyright regardless of the political views of the alleged "infringers", because self-evidently their own policy means that they would be taking more action against one side of the constitutional debate if it was the other side that happened to be putting in the bulk of complaints.
It may be, of course, that the "we take action whenever we receive complaints" thing is just a face-saving PR cover story anyway. It has that sort of ring to it, a bit like Radio 1 pretending recently that they pulled an interview because it "wasn't good enough", and not because of the sea of outrage about the interviewee. One obvious question is: how would someone actually go about alerting the BBC to a copyright infringement? If there is an established procedure for doing that, is it really likely that large numbers of ordinary people would know about it?
The BBC appear to be alleging that the copyrighted material on the two channels was extensive enough to negate the "limited" fair use exemption. That's a subjective argument, and one that a court might well disagree with. But even if the BBC truly believe that their copyright has been technically infringed, it doesn't automatically follow that a state-owned and publicly-funded broadcaster always has to seek redress, or that it would be in the interests of those they serve for them to do so. If it was drama or comedy, it would be an entirely different matter - they would be protecting the creative work of actors, writers, comedians, etc, who have a right to receive revenue when their product is viewed. But who is being protected when the words of a politician who just happened to be speaking on the BBC are censored? If there's a public interest in these videos being removed, why can't the BBC articulate what it is? Why have they not even attempted to do so?
There's also an issue here about BBC centralisation and disrespect towards Scotland. We were told a few months ago that BBC Scotland were about to make a conscious effort to build bridges with Yes voters and to win back the trust in the corporation that was lost during the independence referendum. What looks like a political attack by the BBC in London on two leading pro-independence bloggers makes that task ten times harder. Shouldn't it have occurred to the people responsible to clear such an enormously sensitive move with BBC Scotland, who after all were best placed to understand the repercussions? If it didn't occur to them to do so, what does that tell you?
On an unrelated subject, I just thought I'd bring the following to your attention. Faisal Islam of Sky News has posted a screenshot of Pembrokeshire County Council's planning for Brexit, which makes an observation about devolution -
"There are powers in devolved areas which HMG [Her Majesty's Government] wishes to withhold from WG [Welsh Government] under the EU Withdrawal Bill that are currently implemented under EU law by Welsh local authorities. How long they will be withheld, and for what purpose, is unclear. This introduces some legal uncertainty for Welsh local authorities."
Perish the thought that there's any sort of power grab going on, eh?
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