BNN Refutes Copyright Censorship Accusations

Late last month, accusations emerged that BNN, a Canadian broadcaster, was actively censoring the copyright debate through copyright means. A spokesperson today contacted ZeroPaid to deny these allegations saying that the accusations are “inaccurate and falsely accusing BNN”.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

A user uploaded several clips of the copyright debate that took place on BNN. BNN then found out about the clips being uploaded to YouTube and issued a complaint and had the clips taken down. That caused the user to post accusations on a blog that the network is actively trying to censor the copyright debate. Quite the accusations. Is it true? Rose Noonan, the Sales Coordinator of BNN told ZeroPaid, no.

“BNN is certainly not trying to censor or silence the Canadian copyright debate — or any other topic.” Noonan told ZeroPaid.

So, if it wasn’t censorship, then what was it?

“The removal of BNN clips took place because the clips were posted without permission.” Noonan explained. She continued, “This is the only reason. The material was produced by, and is owned by BNN — Business News Network.”

The blogger making these accusations said that there was evidence that suggested that the only clips that were being removed were copyright debate related.

“When it became evident that numerous unauthorized BNN clips were posted on Youtube, a request was made that they remove all of the clips. This process involves finding each individual URL and sending them to Youtube to request that they be taken down. Attempts were made to find all the clips, but if there are still some there, that is an indication that a few may have been overlooked. There was never any intention to target clips of any topic.” Noonan said.

“In total,” Noonan said, “over 193 BNN clips were removed from Youtube — less than 3% of these clips were related to copyright. They were clips covering numerous topics and certainly not limited to copyright issues or anything else.”

Now that we received the other side of the story, a more probable explanation can be made. In instances in the past regarding other copyright infringement notices on YouTube where multiple clips are taken down, it’s possible that for the side of copyright owners to merely see it as just taking down unauthorized material from multiple sources. Meanwhile, on the other side of the infringement notice, the incident is much more personal. The notice is directed at you, as a user, in particular and can give off the impression that this take down was directed at you specifically – and when it’s political in nature, it can be very easy to take that take down notice as merely a case of a big faceless corporation trying to remove important debates from the public because of certain viewpoints – even though in this case, that wasn’t the case.

This case for BNN is easily a political mine field given thepolitically sensitive nature of copyright. One of the major arguments in the copyright debate is, in fact, that copyright can be used as a tool for censoring free speech. How does a copyright holder try to take down copyrighted material when the subject of that video is copyright in the first place? Did the take down indirectly affect free speech? Technically speaking, yes, there is a grain of truth to be had here. Ultimately speaking, the larger accusation that BNN wants to cover up or censor any debate in particular isn’t necessarily true. The take downs related to copyright were a tiny part of a larger round of take downs by the network with no debate targeting in mind.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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