Activist group GetUp! says it is the victim of tactics “almost too dirty to believe” after one of its anti-coal videos was yanked by YouTube over what GetUp! says are fake copyright claims.
GetUp! video critical of Barrier Reef coal terminal taken down
GetUp! says this video about energy group Adani was taken down by YouTube after a bogus copyright claim.
The group says it posted an animated video - Don’t trust this company with our Great Barrier Reef – to YouTube on June 7 to draw attention to plans by Indian-based company Adani for a massive coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.
However, late last week, YouTube told GetUp! that a website, Corruption Tube, claimed it had posted that video in late 2013, and that its copyright had been breached.
A link to its site on Monday gave the date of its uploading as February 17.
In response to the claim, YouTube blocked the video on GetUp!’s own site, a move the group is seeking help to overturn through its own legal action and crowd-funding from its members. YouTube also downgraded GetUp!’s video channel, limiting its ability to disseminate contact.
The target of the video, Adani, on Monday won approval for its giant Carmichael Coal mine from Federal Minister Greg Hunt with the “absolute strictest” environmental conditions.
Coal production may be as much as 60 million tonnes a year, worth as much as $300 billion over 60 years to the Australian economy, Mr Hunt said.
The mine, if it proceeds, would clear 200 square kilometres of land, extract as much as 12.5 billion litres of water a year, and produce as much as 128 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually when the coal is burnt, the mine’s opponents say.
In an internal email, one member of GetUp! described the blocking of its video just as a federal government decision loomed as “almost too dirty to believe”.
“Adani is a coal company with a record of environmental destruction across the world: destroying conservation areas, bribing government officials, and blatantly ignoring environmental regulations,” the email said.
“Now they want Australians to trust them with the world's largest coal export facility on the Great Barrier Reef coastline.
“We can't be silenced now. It's time to fight back,” the email said.
“We're urgently working with lawyers and YouTube, and we're confident the video will be back online soon. But that's not enough. The message is obviously working - so let's supercharge it.”
A spokesman for Adani said: "GetUp!’s conspiracy theories are a matter for them.
"While GetUp!’s focused on spamming people with their conspiracy theories, Adani is focused squarely on delivering an integrated mine, rail and port project that will help deliver more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in Queensland, billions of dollars of opportunities for small and medium enterprises, and helping prolong the mining boom, in line with the strictest environmental approvals regime on an infrastructure project ever applied in the history of Australia," the spokesman said.
Google, which owns YouTube, declined to comment on individual cases.
"When we're notified that a particular video uploaded to our site infringes another's copyright, we remove the material in accordance with the law," a spokesman for YouTube said.
"We have a counter-notification process in place if a user believes a content owner has misidentified their video, and we reinstate content if a user prevails in that process," he said. "We also reinstate videos in cases where we are confident that the material is not infringing, or where there is abuse of our copyright tools."
Paul Oosting, a campaigns director at GetUp!, said it was worrying the video had been blocked just at a time when the mine’s approval was imminent.
“We’re deeply concerned about the timing – just days before the minister gives it approval,” he said. “It seems there are people linked to the company apparently trying to silence us.”
Along with the blockage, YouTube also downgraded other GetUp! videos on its site.
“We do a lot of video for our 20,000-plus subscribers,” Mr Oosting said. “We’ve lost a lot of video functionality.”
In response to the video halt, though, GetUp! launched a campaign to raise funds in case it needed to take legal action.
So far, the fund-raising is going “very strongly” with about 3300 people chipping in an average $32, or about $108,000 in total.
The original video cost $10,000 to make and had been viewed about 70,000 times before it was blocked, Mr Oosting said.