Greenpeace: YouTube Removed Our F1 Shell Protest Video

Greenpeace has claimed YouTube removed a video of its protest from this weekend’s Formula One race in Belgium, at the bequest of the sport’s organisers.

The protest sought to draw attention to oil giant Shell’s operations in the Arctic, where a spill would be a “disaster, threatening a region of breathtaking beauty and the polar bears that live there”, according to Greenpeace. It formed part of the Save The Arctic campaign.

Greenpeace anti-Shell protest

It took place during the podium ceremony of the Belgian Grand Prix, and saw two remote controlled banners, stealthily snuck into the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamp, promote the environmentalists’ message. They were raised just as winner Sebastian Vettel took to the podium. An organiser had to come on to take the banners down.

But Greenpeace’s YouTube video, which it claimed had received nearly a quarter of a million views in just over 36 hours, has been removed and the environmental group said it had been hit with a copyright complaint.

“Shell may want to note that in court case after court case, our legal right to free speech has triumphed every single time it’s been tested against a corporate giant who thinks they can silence criticism with trademark law,” said Greenpeace’s head of digital networking Brian Fitzgerald.

“Thankfully, that’s not the way the world works – in part thanks to the vigilance of internet freedom fighters against laws like SOPA. This is another example of why we must continue to defend our rights to free expression on the Internet over the intellectual property rights of would-be corporate censors.”

It is believed the official Formula One organiser, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), frequently makes takedown requests surrounding copyright. Greenpeace isn’t wholly convinced that was the chief motivation behind the move, however.

A source close to the matter told TechWeekEurope Shell had not made the request, and it was likely issued by the FIA.

The FIA had not responded to a request for comment, neither had Shell or Google, YouTube’s owner.

A copy of the video remains live on YouTube rival site Vimeo. See below:


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Thomas Brewster

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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