YouTube Copyright Crackdown on Irish Language TV Programmes

Yesterday I received a “DMCA notice” from YouTube informing me that a video I had posted of a TG4 news report on the launch of my radio series, An Líonra Sóisialta, had been removed by them, at the request of a company called Servecast Ltd, who alleged copyright infringement.

A quick search of YouTube (Gaeilge+TG4) reveals that several more videos of TG4 programmes which had been posted by other users have similarly been deleted.

It would appear that Servecast have a deal with TG4 for the online rights to their programmes – or else they are agents acting on TG4’s behalf.  Whois records indicate that Servecast operate the tg4.tv domain used for TG4’s Web TV.

This follows a recent similar action by the American entertainment company Viacom to defend its intellectual property on the video-sharing site.

The last 2 years has seen a proliferation of content posted on YouTube and, while some of it is “home-made”, a large proportion of it is traditional television content and is an infringement of copyright.

We talked about this last October on An Líonra Sóisialta, around the time Google bought YouTube for $1.6bn.  As an example, we included a YouTube clip of virtuoso musician (and TV producer) Tony MacMahon recorded in the 1980s.  That clip too has been taken down.

I want to make this clear: TG4, RTE, Servecast and anyone else who owns intellectual property have a right and a responsibility to protect the copyright on their material, and to license it as they see fit.

As regards the video I had posted: because I was the subject of the news report, I had expressly sought and received permission from TG4 to post it online.  In fact, they were so kind as to mail me a CD containing the video files.  I was grateful for the courtesy, and I do accept that they may find themselves bound by contractual obligations to adopt a more vigorous stance in relation to their IP.

While RTE and TG4 are state-owned companies with a mandate for the public-interest, they operate in a world of broadcasting which is commercial.  Commercial broadcasting and public-service are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and a generation of Irish emigrants are glad of the opportunity to pay to see Irish sport on Setanta’s chanels around the world.

Adam Curry speaks passionately about the travesty of musicians’ back-catalogues being locked up by copyright law in spite of the fact that they no longer command “shelf space” on “legitimate” channels.  I feel the same way about the gems of Irish culture which are gathering dust in the archives of our national broadcasters.  I was amazed last year when two friends in their late thirties, one a musician, the other a DJ, told me they had never heard of Seán Ó Riada.

Of course, the broadcasters will point, quite rightly to series like Come West Along The Road.  This is an excellent way for them to exploit their archives in a traditional-media way.  But I’d like to see them to develop new models for this as well.  YouTube has shown the way, but I’d be perfectly happy to browse similar content on a site operated by RTE or TG4, or by Servecast or some other such company.  And if doing so helped support the public service work of national broadcasters, so much the better.  And if they made it searchable, linkable and amenable to social-media, so that afficionados of Irish culture could help to promote it, then everybody gains.  And if some people can make a living, or – dare I say it – a profit from providing a service of value, then I would be very happy indeed.

The vast majority of those who post copyright material on the internet without permission do not do so to make a profit.  We simply wish to share our tastes, promote the artists we enjoy, and engage with others who share our appreciation.  Content owners should not regard us as thieves, but as allies.

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12 Comments on “YouTube Copyright Crackdown on Irish Language TV Programmes”

  1. brian greene Says:

    I fully support people making a living and stop short of people making a killing. The state broadcasters have archive and sound & vision are getting sexy again. Now should not be a time to sell us back archive on DVD. groundswell of action to get a licencing category for our state archive that does not rest with one commercial company is necessary now. This is much the reason why you have landed yourself a DMCA notice and this is very wrong. TG4 not TG$, they surely did not intend this to happen and their initial intent perhaps remains that your appearance on the TV should remain online.

    Who’s archive is it? theirs? ours? both i say. The fact that these responsibilities of care to our archive must exist in a overtly commercial environment is true but should not be accepted as being the only way to deal with this. Lets define the copyright on this material from the point of production to storage and back date it to the earliest archive, in favour of its owners ie. all of us, and not just the agencies granted permission by legislation to mind it on our behalf. for example is the late late show music programme a part of state archive for all (via a YouTube as you suggest) or a repeat package show for Halifax to sponsor? In doing this we must take great care to credit those who created the archive from the production notes.

    Penny Whistle
    I fear that if the penny doesn’t drop or the whistle is not blown on this, the opportunity may be missed. the OB services of RTE the transmission network, the unbundling of TG4, the lack of FTA digital, the lack of vision in the DAB v DRM debate or even lack of debate. Broadcasting: what state are we in? an awful state. Keep up the good work Conn.


  2. […] Conn got DMCA’d. Takedown of his interview on TG4. Someone is quite protective. Cos really, the best thing for TG4 to do to help spread use of the Irish language is to have single-vendor lock-in of their content online. […]


  3. If you want to shift the clip over to podcasting.ie I believe it will enjoy a safe haven there.

  4. Kay Says:

    Give a thing take it back ..etc Níl sé deas! Cad a deir TG4 faoinar tharla duit a Choinn?

  5. Roseanne Says:

    And of course it brings up the old question to whom do your recorded image and voice and ideas belong?

    Does a Digital Millenium Copyright Act Notice have any effect outside the States?

    Ar an drochuair, a Kay, is cuma cad a deireann TG4 – ní leo “TG4 ar líne” mar dhea. Tá gach ábhar ar líne den stáisiún Gaelach i bpóca dream eigin eile – cé gur mise is tusa a díol as an ábhar uile sa chéad áit…. An-cheisteach go deo!


  6. Go raibh maith agaibh – thanks everyone for your comments.

    I want to stress that I’m not personally offended by this. It’s bigger than me.

    The story is in today’s edition of Lá Nua. TG4 explain that they were forced to act because of one YouTube video which infringed the copyright of a third party because of a piece of music which it contained.

    TG4’s deputy head, Pádraig Ó Ciardha, explains that they only way they could resolve this was to issue takedown notices for all their content. He says they are looking for a way which will allow people to post non-infringing material.

  7. Mark Dowling Says:

    You can send Youtube a DMCA Counter Notice. Youtube will restore the file – they have done it for others.
    http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/07/03/21/014232.shtml

  8. Kay Says:

    Ní thuigim é seo. Níl sé ceart nó cóir agus tá eagla orm go bhfuiltear ag tógaint cearta ó anchuid daoine chun ceart duine amháin a chosaint. Tá sin bun os cionn agus b’fhéidir nach gcuireann sé as duit a Choinn ach cuireann sé as dom. Is asal é an dlí mar a deirtear go minic. Cé hiad an comhlacht seo servecast agus conas is féidir go bhfuil an méid sin cumhachta orthu an Ghaeilge a choimeád uainn? Nach bhféidir le TG4 comhlacht eile a úsáid, podcasting.ie b’fhéidir? An comhlacht iasachtach iad servecast? Tá drochbhlas ar an rud go léir.


  9. De réir mar a thuigimse é , a Kay, ní raibh servecast ach ag obair ar iarratas a fuair siad ó TG4.

    Tá an scéal in eagrán Éireannach an Sunday Times inniu chomh maith. Ní fhaca cóip de go fóill, ach sílim nach bhfuil puinn eolais bhreise ann thairis an méid a bhí in Lá Nua.

    Cá bhfios nach gceadófar cuid des na físeáin seo a chur ar ais, ach iarratas a dhéanamh go TG4? Níor thriail mé é sin fós. B’fhéidir go bhféadfaidís próiséis éigin a chur i bhfeidhm chun go bhféadfaí iarratas a láimhseáil go fuirist?

  10. Nancy Harty Says:

    I was very unhappy to see that one of my favorite videos of Michael Hartnett’s poem “The Actor Kiss” was taken down. I wish I had copied it when I had the chance.

    That Actor Kiss

    I kissed my father as he lay in bed
    in the ward. Nurses walked on soles of sleep
    and old men argued with themselves all day.
    The seven decades locked inside his head
    congealed into a timeless leaking heap,
    the painter lost his sense of all but grey.
    The actor kiss fell down in a shaft too deep
    to send back echoes that I would have prized –
    ’29 was ’41 was ’84,
    all one in his kaleidoscopic eyes
    (he willed to me his bitterness and thirst,
    his cold ability to close a door).
    Later over a drink, I realized
    that was our last kiss and, alas, our first.

    Died 3 October 1984

    Michael Hartnett

  11. Rhys Says:

    Helo, Rhys here. Just thought you might be interested in some blogging software that can be tranlsated into Gaeilge. The platform is NireBlog.com, and the strings are awaiting translation here.

    So far, all that’s been done is copying translated strings from other sites/software.

    I know it’s quite easy to ammend Blogger to appear in Gaeilge, but with NireBlog, even the back end will appear in Gaeilge.

    NireBlog’s appearance isn’t that great, I must admit, but if you think people would be interested in translating and using the platform, maybe you could mention it to a few people?


  12. GRMA- – thanks Rhys! I’ll check it out. I believe WordPress is available as Gaeilge as well.


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