The BBC fights to stay impartial: copyright infringement claim

Brexit seems to be the gift that keeps giving without providing any certainty to the legal world. However, one thing that it has made certain is that it cannot be used to infringe another’s IP rights.

The BBC has made a complaint to Facebook requesting that a Conservative election advert be taken down, as it infringes the BBC’s copyright rights. This involves a video lasting 15 seconds featuring three notable reporters/presenters Huw Edwards, Laura Kuenssberg and Jonathan Blake.

The video seems to show the prominent broadcasters speaking negatively about the government’s delays to Brexit. The BBC’s legal team claims that the use of this video footage breaches section 4.1 of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines. Section 4.1 of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines states that “[t]he BBC is committed to achieving due impartiality in all its output.”[1] Consequently, the BBC asked for the Conservative party to remove the advert from Facebook, as the content had been taken out of context.

It is interesting to see Facebook act so swiftly in this claim of copyright infringement. One has to wonder whether the fact that the complaint came from the BBC or the political environment of the UK played a factor in Facebook removing the add. Thus, although the BBC asserted its IP rights as the valid owner of the content, Facebook must have felt some amount of pressure to ensure that it was not involved in any political controversy.


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