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America's Cup- Television NZ admits error over Youtube block in NZ

by Richard Gladwell on 6 Oct 2011
TVNZ claimed that Sail-World had infringed copyright on Youtube video - a view at variance with the rights owner . ..

Two weeks after the blocking of some Youtube video of the America's Cup World Series in to New Zealand, TVNZ's General Manager of Sport, Murray Needham has admitted that the Youtube coverage published by Sail-World.com did not breach copyright, and that claims made by him to that effect were incorrect.

During the final days of the ACWS Plymouth, full length video replays were blocked from being seen in New Zealand for a period of seven days. There was a major reaction from Kiwi sailing fans. TVNZ's Murray Needham, via another sailing website, claimed this was variously because of Sail-World.com's use of 'unauthorised footage' and 'copyright infringement'. Another TVNZ executive, Christine Wilton in a letter to the same website claimed the content was 'pirated'.

In a statement issued to Sail-World, Television New Zealand has now admitted that their reported comments were wrong.

'It has become clear that under the protocols of ACEA’s YouTube channel, material made available in this country via YouTube, complete with embed codes, is authorised for sharing', says Needham.

'TVNZ accepts that content embedded and shared in this way has not breached copyright.'

The admission from Needham came five days after a statement provided to Sail-World from ACEA's Chief Communications Officer, Stephanie Martin who confirmed that Sail-World.com had acted in accordance with Youtube's Terms and Conditions and had not breached copyright as claimed on a website by TVNZ’s Needham and Wilton.

'All of the America's Cup content on our YouTube channel that provides an embed code is shareable and we actively encourage people to share it', Stephanie Martin said in a prepared statement by ACEA.

'Sail-World did not violate copyright by embedding this content on their site nor by sharing this content with their users.

'Sail-World has been a long-time supporter of the America's Cup and a tremendous advocate of the sport of sailing worldwide.'

Coverage blocked after Day2
YouTube has been in existence just six years, it is a subsidiary of Google. Youtube is the world’s largest video portal having achieved its phenomenal growth by allowing people to load their own video onto the Youtube site, and Youtube in turn makes that content available for republishing by other websites, subject to its terms and conditions.

Such is the growth of YouTube it now has 14 billion videos viewed each year, and it is claimed that 48 hours of video are loaded every minute. It started doing live, free sporting broadcasts of cricket matches from India in March 2010, and has extended this to the 34th America's Cup with the establishment of youtube.com/americascup .

The blocking issue first emerged at the start of the America's Cup World Series in Plymouth, when the Youtube America’s Cup livestreaming was blocked to New Zealand viewers for the live coverage of the first two days of the fleet racing.

This same content embedded in Sail-World NZ stories was blocked to New Zealand viewers but was viewable via Sail-World.com through its USA, Canada, Asia, UK, Europe and Australia websites.

A full delayed commentary video of each day’s racing, along with an edited highlights package was later made available in all world regions on Youtube/Americascup .

Sail-World.com ran stories featuring the first two day's full commentary video - published several hours after the conclusion of racing on Youtube’s America’s Cup channel.

That situation was rectified after the first two days of racing, and live coverage was available via Youtube for all but the final day.

After the conclusion of the first rounds of the fleet racing and before the start of the match racing, the gate was dropped on the full delayed commentated coverage – stopping New Zealand fans from watching a full replay of the racing during daylight hours.

Blame-Storming starts
No explanations for the blocked content were immediately forthcoming, but all the fingers from offshore pointed TVNZ's way. The full story published in Sail-World at the time can be viewed by http://www.sail-world.com/NZ/Americas-Cup-organisers-block-Youtube-for-seven-days-for-Kiwi-fans/88469!clicking_here

After the World Series finished in Plymouth, the delayed coverage continued to be blocked on Youtube to New Zealand fans, for a period of seven days from each race day.

There was some email correspondence as to the reasons for the blocked Youtube coverage between Sail-World, Murray Needham at TVNZ and Kim Bernard Director of Media Sales at ACEA.

Over the course of the Plymouth round of the America’s Cup World Series, Sail-World published 70 stories, many of which contained Youtube/Americascup video – able to be viewed worldwide, but all full length commentaries were blocked without explanation, save for the Broadcast Rights contract signed between ACEA and TVNZ. Neither party would divulge the provisions of the contract.

On 21 September, three days after the end of the Plymouth series, when Sail-World was ready to publish again on this issue, both ACEA and TVNZ claimed confidentiality on the correspondence with Sail-World and neither took the opportunity offered to make a statement.

TVNZ's General Manager of Sport Murray Needham did however use another website, crew.org.nz to get message across, where he is quoted: 'ACEA initiated a temporary block on content coming into New Zealand once they became aware of a copyright infringement involving a local sailing web site who has been posting unauthorized footage on their site. Due to consistent infractions the only recourse ACEA had was to block the content to New Zealand'

Those claims made about copyright infringement and unauthorized footage are a complete nonsense when considered against the back drop of Youtube's Terms and Conditions governing use of their content. The Google owned site specifies the way their content can be republished (by used of a couple of lines of embedded code supplied with each video just for this purpose) and this is the method employed by Sail-World and other websites.

(Without going into a more complex explanation, use of the supplied embedded code gives Youtube complete control over the use of the video - nothing to do with the rights and wrongs of the use by a republishing website.)

If there is a breach of copyright, as claimed, then it is left to copyright holders to issue a takedown notice pursuant to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. No takedown notice was issued to Sail-World at any stage, further indication that there was no copyright infringement by Sail-World.com

Piracy claim made by TVNZ
Other even more serious statements were published on the crew.org website including one attributed to a TVNZ staffer which said: 'Youtube was only blocked in this country as the material was being pirated by some other providers who were trying to get free content to boost their sites.'

Again the fact that the material was used in accordance with Youtube's terms and conditions was completely ignored. (Use of Youtube video doesn’t in fact boost a republisher’s site as the viewer traffic is redirected away from the initial website and back to the Youtube site - increasing Youtube viewership and it is the fourth most popular website in the world.

Following the refusal by ACEA and TVNZ to comment on the record, Sail-World then approached ACEA’s Stephanie Martin, reciting the comments from TVNZ, and asking for an explanation as to how the claimed breach of copyright had occurred.

She responded last Friday: 'All of the America's Cup content on our YouTube channel that provides an embed code is shareable and we actively encourage people to share it', she said in a prepared statement by ACEA.

'Sail-World did not violate copyright by embedding this content on their site nor by sharing this content with their users.

'Sail-World has been a long-time supporter of the America's Cup and a tremendous advocate of the sport of sailing worldwide.'

Sail-World's publisher then initiated a further discussion with TVNZ' s Murray Needham, asking him to reconcile his comments on crew.org.nz with the statement made by ACEA. Early Wednesday afternoon a statement was issued to Sail-World for publication in explanation of TVNZ's position and actions:

'Recently TVNZ expressed concerns over America’s Cup World Series content appearing online in this country. Since then it has become clear that under the protocols of ACEA’s YouTube channel, material made available in this country via YouTube, complete with embed codes, is authorised for sharing.

'TVNZ accepts that content embedded and shared in this way has not breached copyright.

'We’re pleased this matter has been cleared up for all involved. TVNZ totally supports ACEA’s desire to expose America’s Cup content to a global audience across multiple platforms while at the same time maintaining contractual obligations to their worldwide broadcast partners.'

Further questions put by Sail-World to ACEA regarding the blocking of Youtube video and retrospective blocking, are yet to be answered.

One of the full commentary videos blocked from New Zealand viewers for a seven day period



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