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Leinster House sought removal of pro-life political video from YouTube

Staff at the Houses of the Oireachtas sought to have a pro-life political video removed from YouTube after they received a single complaint about the video. The video, which is a documentary about the Limerick based advocacy-group Together for Safety, used footage taken from Dail and Senad debates.

A spokesperson for the Oireachtas told Gript that the video was in breach of the terms of the “Oireachtas (Broadcasting Proceedings) PSI Licence” which allows for the rebroadcast of Oireachtas TV footage. The spokesperson said that the video had not credited the Houses of the Oireachtas or Oireachtas TV as the creator of the footage used; that the footage used had been used in a misleading way; that the video itself constituted political satire, which is not covered under the license; and that the video brought the proceedings of the Oireachtas into disrepute.

However, according to emails seen by Gript the original complaint submitted by the Oireachtas was that one particular scene in the video showed a banner, reading ‘Together for Sectarianism,’ which had been imposed over a screenshot taken from the Oireachtas website. The complaint argued that this made the banner “look like an official document.”

It was only when YouTube responded to the complaint saying that it was “concerned that your copyright notification may not be valid” that a second complaint was raised regarding the terms of the licensing of the clips used. A third complaint was also raised at this point relating to a section of the video which superimposed a edited version of Labour’s logo, which read “Liebour,” over Oireachtas TV footage of Ivana Bacik speaking.

The creator of the video, Cathal McCarthy, told Gript that he rejected the reasons given by the Oireachtas for the attempted removal of his video, and that the initial complaint, and the idea that anyone would think that particular part of the video was part of an official document, showed that staff at the Houses of the Oireachtas held a very low opinion “of the average Irish man or woman watching the video.”

McCarthy said that the work was not political satire, although he believes that “satire is a legitimate form of political commentary,” and that the mere fact he had used humour in parts of the video did not take away from the fact that the video was “primarily a journalistic endeavour.” McCarthy said he had taken the footage of Ivana Bacik speaking directly from Labour’s social media platforms, and that Labour themselves had already edited it to include Labour’s logo – McCarthy says that he merely amended Labour’s edit to something he felt was “more appropriate.” Labour themselves, in an apparent breach of the terms of the Oireachtas (Broadcasting Proceedings) PSI licence, appear to routinely upload footage taken from Oireachtas TV, edited to remove the Oireachtas watermark and with Labour’s logo added, to their social media channels.

McCarthy also denied the claim that anything in the video had brought the proceedings of the Oireachtas into disrepute, instead saying “If anything in the video brought the proceedings of the Oireachtas into disrepute it was the statements made by some of the politicians featured.”

When asked how common it was for the Oireachtas to seek the removal of videos on these grounds a spokesperson for the Oireachtas told Gript that, whilst they did not have an exact number, “the number would be under 20 over the last 3 years.”

YouTube ultimately refused to remove the video, stating that they remained “concerned that your copyright notification is not valid for some or all of the videos identified in your notification. As a result, the content will remain live on YouTube”

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