Saturday, 28 July 2018

The BBC just launched a chilling attack on free speech

The BBC has launched a chilling attack on freedom of speech through their misuse of YouTube's copyright takedown system to shut down pro-independence commentators and blogs.

Two of the most significant victims are the Wings Over Scotland Youtube channel, and the pro-independence campaigner Peter Curran, both of which have had their entire Youtube channels suspended as a result of a sudden mass of takedown notices from the BBC.

Fair use

People are absolutely free to use short video clips of other people's copyrighted material to provide political analysis. This is confirmed by YouTube's own "fair use" guidelines.

However, YouTube have apparently decided to comply with the BBC's efforts to shut down several pro-independence channels by enforcing copyright takedowns against all videos containing clips of BBC output (regardless of fair use consideration) and then suspending the pages for repeat violations.


Interestingly anti-Scottish independence sites that have used BBC content to promote their cause have been left in peace. Take this video from LabourList featuring an extensive 13 minute clip  of BBC coverage of Gordon Brown's (lamentable) pro-unionist speech.

It's quite interesting that the BBC is intent on misusing YouTube takedown notices to delete critical commentary of their output for those who stray from the BBC narrative, yet allows those who support the BBC narrative to post extensive clips of BBC output that merely copies the original output.

Of course anyone who paid attention to the BBC's coverage of the Scottish independence referendum will already be familiar with the intense pro-unionist bias of their output at the time, but this decision to orchestrate a mass shutdown of pro-Independence social media platforms, whilst leaving anti-Independence social media outfits in peace is yet another demonstration of toxic levels of bias at the BBC.

Free speech

Misusing Youtube's copyright takedown procedures to orchestrate the shutdown of social media pages that post fair use clips of BBC programmes is clearly an assault on free speech.

If the BBC make it impossible for people to upload clips of BBC bias in order to expose them, they're clearly abusing the copyright rules to insulate themselves from criticism.

This tactic looks especially bad in light of the fact that they continue to allow anti-independence pages to host huge clips of BBC programming, without issuing any copyright takedown notices against them.


By adopting the tactic of misusing social media copyright takedown notices in order to silence those who would hold them to account over their bias/misrepresentations/lies, this is clearly an effort to render themselves immune from criticism.

The BBC want to create an online environment where people are afraid to upload clips of BBC content in order to expose the bias/inaccuracy/dishonesty of the reporting for fear of having their entire social media page deleted in retribution.

"If you dare to criticise us we'll get your Facebook/Twitter/Youtube account shut down" is a truly chilling stance from the UK's state broadcaster to adopt.

Licence payer-funded malice

It's important to consider the fact that whoever is orchestrating these sinister takedown notices against dissident political pages is doing so on a BBC salary, which means they're using licence payers' cash to silence their political opponents.

You don't have to be in favour of Scottish independence to strongly object to this politically motivated misuse of licence payers' cash to stifle free speech.

Democratic considerations

When the BBC misuse the YouTube copyright takedown procedures to remove clips of political speeches there are very serious democratic implications because they're essentially asserting that the politician's statements belong to them simply because they were the ones to record it.

Essentially they're trying to misuse social media copyright takedown rules to assert that if they filmed the politician speaking, they're the only ones with the right to decide whether that particular clip gets seen or not, and crucially how the politician's words are framedif they do decide to show it.

You don't have to have any pro-independence sympathies whatever to see how this kind of copyright extremism represents a very real danger to free speech and democratic accountability.

Who is next?

The staggering bias of BBC output during the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 opened a lot of Scottish people's eyes to the intensity of BBC political propaganda. A lot of left-leaning people have had their eyes opened to the scale of BBC political propaganda since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2015. And ever since 2016 a lot of Remain-oriented people have been left aghast at pro-Brexit bias on the BBC too.

If the BBC are intent on misusing social media copyright takedown notices to shut down and silence pro-independence voices in Scotland, surely it's only a matter of time before they begin using the same sinister tactics against other dissident political groups, like the pro-Corbyn social media (like Momentum) or the anti-Brexit movement.

Take this clip from an anti-Brexit social media page exposing the biased way the BBC keep describing the proven and punished unlawful behaviour of the Vote Leave campaign as merely "allegations". How long before the BBC use spurious copyright takedown notices to stop people from sharing clips like this?

Another Angry Voice

In the past I've posted various short clips of BBC output under fair use considerations, so don't be surprised if the BBC come after Another Angry Voice and other left-leaning independent media sites on social media too.

It's absolutely clear that a lot of mainstream media journalists see independent media sites like Another Angry Voice as a threat to their self-declared position of gatekeepers of public discourse, so would it be any surprise to see them actively backing the deliberate misuse of copyright takedown notices to silence and shut down alternative voices on social media platforms?

Whether they come after my social media accounts or not, the BBC have already succeeded in sending out a chilling warning: "Post clips of our content to hold us to account and we'll do our worst to get you shut down".

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