UPDATE: YouTube says it mistakenly blocked Canadians from watching a video parodying cable companies.
After reports earlier this week that the "First Honest Cable Company Ad" was blocked in Canada due to a "defamation" complaint, YouTube owner Google said it had reinstated access to the video to viewers located in Canada.
"With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call. When it's brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it," said Wendy Bairos, a spokesperson for Google, which owns YouTube, in an email to HuffPost.
Original story follows below.
If you can’t see the video above, it’s because someone in Canada just expanded their crusade against parodies of cable TV companies.
A video titled “The First Honest Cable Company Ad” went viral last April with its cheeky take on the customer-unfriendly practices of certain U.S. cable providers. But it appears YouTube has pulled the video for viewers in Canada “due to a defamation complaint.”
Fortunately, in typical internet fashion, some YouTube users copied the video and some copied versions are still available to Canadian viewers (hence the video above, which was still working in Canada last time we checked).
“Are you looking for a fast reliable internet connection, a large selection of your favourite HDTV channels and 24/7 access to the best customer support technicians, all at a fair price?” a fictional cable company rep asks in the video. “Fuck you. You’ll take what we give you.”
The censored video raises some interesting questions, such as: Who is trying to stop Canadians from watching parodies of the U.S. cable industry? And why would a U.S.-made parody of U.S cable companies be defamatory in Canada, but not the U.S.?
True, Canada’s defamation laws are more favourable to complainants than U.S. defamation laws, but the whole thing still doesn’t add up.
HuffPost Canada has posed these questions to Google, which owns YouTube; we’ll update this story when or if Google responds.
To be clear: We have no reason to believe that one of Canada’s cable providers is behind the take-down order, so we won’t be naming any of these suspects.
But it does seem to fit a pattern of Canadian institutions using copyright and defamation arguments in efforts to censor online content.
Just last week, it emerged that Alberta Tourism was behind a complaint that pulled an anti-oil sands video from YouTube in Canada.
In that case, though, the complaint was copyright violation, not defamation, and the video’s content may have indeed infringed on material copyrighted by Alberta Tourism. Harder to see is how a fictional cable company "ad" could be defamatory.
Maybe the part about “oligopolies” hit too close to home for someone in Canada’s telecom industry, which has often been accused of operating as one.
“We are part of what is called an oligopoly,” the fictional spokesman says at one point.
“It’s like a monopoly, only legal. In closed door meetings with four or five of the other major providers, we secretly agreed not to have differing prices, allowing us to eliminate any competition and allowing us to raise our prices to optimum cockbag levels.”
That's actually a definition of "collusion," not "oligopoly," but either way, if you're in the telecom business, it's got to sting.
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