By Patrick Avenell
SYDNEY: Freeview, the much maligned body established to represent the interests of the free-to-air television providers, has been subjected to intense criticism and ridicule today after a satirical video was removed from YouTube.
The video itself had received little coverage in the media, but after the producers were told that it was to be removed from the site, they launched a publicity offensive that has resulted in enormous coverage today, in both the general and technology media.
The reason for the removal from YouTube is nebulous. Daniel Ilic, an executive producer at Downwind Media, the production company that made the controversial clip, claims it was because it didn’t meet YouTube content guidelines.
Today in the SMH Online, it is reported that the clip was removed due to copyright infringement. In all cases, it is either implied or stated that Freeview initiated this action by concentrating whatever power it has upon YouTube.
Freeview has received enormous criticism since its launch, with journalists and bloggers complaining that it is a glorified cartel that has been organised for the sole purpose of protecting advertising revenue at the expense of consumers’ experience enjoyment. One of the more spirited opponents of Freeview has already declared that the television industry has “rejected” Freeview.
In order to harness the hate in the technology media industry, Ilic yesterday emailed a select group of friends and associates, including journalists at the Australian, Sydney Morning Herald and Current.com.au’s publisher, Intermedia.
In this disguised press release, he states unequivocally that Freeview was the instigator of YouTube’s action against the clip, and then implies that YouTube cited specious grounds in its explanation.
“It’s become apparent that Freeview have told YouTube that my Spoof [sic] of the Freeview TVC is against community guidelines…
“Freeview has pulled the you tube video [sic] when it hits it’s [sic] peak of around 12,000 views,” wrote Ilic, who then reprinted what he stated were YouTube’s guidelines.
He closed this email with the question, “Did the Spoof [sic] go against the YouTube community guidelines?”.
The answer to that question is a clear ‘no’: it’s not pornographic, violent or spam; or any of the other YouTube taboos. But that isn’t the reason it was pulled – not at least according to the journalists Ilic personally contacted to get publicity for his video.
If the video breaches copyright laws, and Freeview clearly thinks it does, than YouTube has a responsibility, not just to Freeview but to itself as a broadcaster, to remove it. Copyright laws, when you discredit puerile undergraduate arguments, are essential to a functioning community: they protect the rightful income of an artist. When society moves away from the artist, and begins sympathising with those that infringe, we have failed.
Ilic has done well to get his name in the paper and drive viewers to the websites that are still carrying the video – it was masterful public relations – but before he crucifies Freeview for not being able to take a joke, he should consider how he’d feel if an amateur took his copyrighted work and used it without permission.