It’s argued that Google’s ex-officio decision to reload the videos on its web-site without informing ILS is an illegal action and could put the search giant into an unjustifiable position in other cases. As turk-internet.com we have got into touch with some lawyers and argued the situation with them.
Last night, Google announced that it has re-launched the 4 controversial Ataturk videos to YouTube which were the reason of the 2.5 years lasting Turkish ban on its popular video sharing web-site. This decision and the announcement has been received with astonishment in Turkish internet society, because since the lifting of the ban, most of the interpretations had been reflecting that a step towards the solution was finally taken.
Furthermore, comments on the situation have been favoring that Turkish authorities could take this point as the ground zero and take more steps to prevent similar cases from happening.
But before any further steps could be taken, Google (or YouTube) made the following announcement:
Last weekend access restriction ban on YouTube has been lifted by Turkish courts and we’ve received reports that users in Turkey are once again able to access YouTube after 2 years of restrictions. Access restriction ban was based on some videos loaded on YouTube, our global video sharing service, since those videos were found against the rules in Turkey. But before the restriction decision we had banned the access to these videos from Turkey and since there is no obligation to follow the Turkish rules abroad, we kindly turned down the request from Turkish court to ‘completely remove the mentioned videos’.
Last week, with the Turkish Internet Council’s directions, A German firm used the automatic copyright complaint mechanism to remove the mentioned videos from YouTube.com. After the removal of the mentioned videos the lift of access restriction ban was approved by Turkish courts last weekend. But when we investigated this action from the German firm, we found that those videos were not violating our copyright policy. Therefore we reloaded the mentioned videos to YouTube and banned the access to these videos from Turkey again. We hope that our Turkish users will be able to continue accessing YouTube problem free.
Right after reading this announcement, we immediately got in touch with several solicitors and most of them commented that the action taken by Google (or YouTube) is either illegal or at least without legal grounds. According to them, the situation and the last action taken by Google represents an intervention to the decisions of an enterprise which holds the intellectual property rights of more than 300,000 digital content.
Moreover, the solicitors we got in touch indicated that with its final decision and action Google (or YouTube) is acting as a content provider rather than its service provider claims, and this could represent a leading case for similar problems and lawsuits. As you sure will remember, Viacom filed a lawsuit claiming YouTube used its copyrights protected content and lost the case . In that case Google claimed that it was only a service provider, not the content provider, and could not control the content it provides. Viacom is expected to take the case to Appeals Court and specialists claim that Viacom could use the latest situation in Turkey as an example.
Since the much debated videos are composed from copyrights protected content, solicitors that are interpreting the latest developments are claiming that YouTube is acting more like a content provider rather than a basic service provider in this situation. Those videos are claimed to be copyrights protected by the German ILS firm. Therefore by reloading those videos, it is argued that Google is controlling the content it provides.
Interestingly, solicitors are arguing that there have been many similar cases filed against YouTube and the popular video sharing web-site has always claimed to be just a service provider pointing out it does not control the content. Many people believe that YouTube’s last action and its previous claims are posing a contradiction and solicitors we could get into touch are claiming that YouTube’s most recent action represent a leading case for similar problems and lawsuits in other countries.
Ali Osman Ozdilek, one of the solicitors we could get into touch, gave the following statement to us:
The Internet Law No. 5651 governs internet actors and their responsibilities in Turkey. Main actors are access providers, hosting providers and content providers. The question is what is the YouTube under Turkish Internet Law No. 5651. In Turkish practice the definition of hosting provider has a broad interpretation. According to this broad interpretation all person who provide the places for third party contents in their systems are hosting providers. In this regard there is no doubt that YuoTube is a hosting provider. Content provider, however, is the person who post the content into a web site.
In our case, YouTube has reloaded the content into YouTube web site against the alleged copyright holders intention. Thus, we can precisely say that YouTube acted as a content provider. In conclusion YouTube is responsible for the content since YouTube is a content provider under Turkish Internet Law No. 5651 and may be encountered a possible copyright breach allegations.
Turkish internet users are pretty confused now with the current situation and the announcements. The ban has been widely criticized since 2008 and even Turkish President Abdullah Gul used his Twitter page to condemn the move, and said he had asked responsible institutions for a solution.
But the specialists are now arguing that YouTube is not as innocent and downtrod as it was claimed to be. One solicitor explains this situation stating YouTube has long been claiming the freedom of thought. But now they admit that they are blocking the access to some videos from Turkey although there are no court decisions ordering that enforcement. This means they are censoring some videos with their own decisions.
Solicitors are pointing out another contradiction in Google’s actions. Youtube claims to be following the court rules, but they are reloading a video which was removed by a copyrights violation claim and then they don’t ask any questions or even inform the claimer. That seems to be arbitrary, they say.
We cannot make any predictions about the future of the popular video sharing Web-site in Turkey, but we will be watching the situation very closely.