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YouTube deletes Spain’s VOX political party channel after bizarre copyright infringement claims

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The Spanish conservative party VOX has had its YouTube channel deleted for reportedly uploading video interviews featuring members of its own party that it doesn’t hold the copyright to. VOX says that leftist activists made three copyright claims against videos on its channel and YouTube responded to these claims by terminating its channel. VOX argues that it’s being treated unfairly and says that other political parties and YouTube channels have been allowed to use these videos without facing any copyright claims or punitive actions against their channels.

VOX initially reported that its YouTube channel had been removed on Twitter and claimed that this was an act of censorship on YouTube’s part.

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The translated tweet says:

“?⚠@YouTube deleted the VOX channel without any explanation. The decision to eliminate the channel is a serious attack against the freedom of expression and dissemination of a political party. @YouTubeEspanol we demand an explanation and that the account be enabled as soon as possible.”

YouTube then responded and said it would investigate the termination of VOX’s YouTube channel.

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The translated tweet says:

“Thank you for informing us, we are already investigating and we will communicate as soon as we have news.”

Journalist Daniel J. Ollero then disputed VOX’s claim and said that YouTube shut down the VOX channel for uploading videos that it didn’t own the copyright to. He added that VOX had been warned about this multiple times before the channel was shut down and that the last case was a video interview with Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, the spokesperson of the VOX Parliamentary Group, which the Spanish radio network La Cadena SER owns the copyright to.

The translated tweet says:

“This Vox tweet is a lie. YouTube has closed the channel to Vox for hacking others’ videos. The platform had warned them (several times) that they could not upload copyrighted videos to their channel but Vox happened. The last case was with a video owned by the SER.”

YouTube then confirmed (Google Translate link) to various Spanish media outlets that copyright claims were behind the takedown of the VOX channel with the following statement:

“When a copyright owner informs us that a video violates those rights, we remove that content immediately according to the law. A copyright conflict can be resolved if the user sends a counter notification and prevails in the process. When a channel accumulates three infractions we proceed to suspend it, with prior notification.”

After YouTube issued its statement, VOX confirmed that the takedown of its channel was the result of three copyright complaints in a Twitter thread.

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The translated tweet thread says:

“? Second day that YouTube prevents us from using its platform. What is happening? ⬇ THREAD ⬇

YouTube has informed us that the disqualification of the VOX channel is due to the complaint made by three people who consider that we have used their content.

The three people who have denounced us are activists of the left. One of them is responsible for digital content management of the Cadena SER.

We have verified that other political parties and progressive channels use the same audiovisual resources without having been denounced for it.

We take advantage of this fact to show our indignation with the arbitrary action of Twitter, Facebook and Google; hypersensitive to the demands of activists of totalitarian cultural and establishment Marxism.

We show our support to all those who, like us, have been affected by these arbitrary actions of those responsible for these social networks in recent months.

As a party with parliamentary representation, we will demand that those responsible commit themselves to guaranteeing the constitutional right of Spaniards to express and freely disseminate their thoughts, ideas and opinions on their platforms.

We demand these platforms, which claim to fight against the abuses in the network, that persecute the groups of progressive trolls that denounce in an organized way and for ideological reasons all those accounts that do not fit their unique thinking.”

If VOX’s allegations are true, then this is yet another example of YouTube’s broken copyright system being used to selectively censor users of the platform. What makes the situation particularly ironic is that in the final video interview that was reportedly claimed, Espinosa de los Monteros was discussing a media campaign against VOX. Based on these allegations, it appears that media outlets copyright claiming this video and others is what led to the termination of VOX’s YouTube channel.

And even if these copyright claims have been made in good faith, it’s bizarre that a copyright dispute over videos featuring members of a political party can be responsible for the takedown of that party’s YouTube channel.

Update – July 5, 2019: VOX’s YouTube channel has been reinstated.

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