Flash News: last updated on 04.11.2010: entry by Dr. Yaman Akdeniz: Despite the earlier news that Turkey has lifted its ban on YouTube after almost 2.5 years, YouTube reinstated the four videos that were removed by a licensing agency in Germany. YouTube, in a statement circulated in Turkish late Monday night stated that the four videos did not violate its copyright violation policy and therefore they were put back into the system.
I did verify the statement and the four videos are available where they were used to be available. YouTube also announced that it continues to use a “local blocking system” and therefore Turkish users will not be able to see these videos from Turkey if YouTube remains accessible from Turkey. However, those videos will be available and accessible from outside Turkey.
It remains to be seen how the Turkish authorities will react to this action by YouTube but I strongly suspect that they will issue a new injunction to block access to YouTube.
So far, and as of 03.11.2010 no ban has been enforced on YouTube despite several misleading stories in Turkey and elsewhere. There was an attempt at banning YouTube by the lawyers of Deniz Baykal, the former leader of CHP, the opposition party yesterday. However, the allegedly obscene videos involving Baykal and his former mistress were removed from YouTube servers as they were deemed to be sexually explicit. As a result of YouTube’s removal of those videos the court injunction to block access to YouTube was not enforced.
There is no update to report as of 04.11.2010 but YouTube remained accessible for another day.
This entry will be updated as the story develops….
“Note: Nothing has changed in Turkey in terms of its censorship law. Access to approximately 8000 websites remain, and although the YouTube news is welcome, this should not be seen as a step towards democratization in Turkey. The government officials found a loophole (by dancing around the censorship law and by keeping the law as it is) and claimed copyright infringement to get the videos removed from the YouTube servers. I will write a longer piece about the whole issue sometime soon.” (Dr. Yaman Akdeniz)
BBC News – Turkey lifts two-year ban on YouTube: “Turkey lifts two-year ban on YouTube
Turkey has lifted its ban on YouTube, two years after it blocked access to the website because of videos deemed insulting to the country’s founder.
Transport Minister Binali Yildirim, who is in charge of internet issues, said the government had been in contact with Google, which owns YouTube.
Mr Yildirim said there was no longer any reason to ban the website, because the offending videos had been removed.
Insulting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk or ‘Turkishness’ is illegal in Turkey.
The video clip prompting the ban was reportedly posted by Greek users of the website and dubbed Ataturk and Turks homosexuals.
YouTube will hopefully carry out its operations in Turkey within the limits of law in the future’
End Quote Binali Yildirim Turkish Transport Minister
The move was nevertheless widely criticised by many Turks, including by President Abdullah Gul, who asked officials to find a solution.
Speaking on Turkish television on Saturday, Mr Yildirim said the ban had been lifted after ‘common sense prevailed’.
‘But we didn’t get here easily – we have been through a lot in the process,’ he told NTV.
‘I hope that they have also learned from this experience and the same thing will not happen again. YouTube will hopefully carry out its operations in Turkey within the limits of law in the future,’ he added.
In a statement, YouTube said that it had received reports that some users in Turkey were once again able to access its content.
‘We want to be clear that a third party, not YouTube, have apparently removed some of the videos that have caused the blocking of YouTube in Turkey using our automated copyright complaint process,’ it explained.
‘We are investigating whether this action is valid in accordance with our copyright policy,’ the company added.
In 2007, Turkey’s parliament adopted a sweeping law that allowed a court to block any website where there was ’sufficient suspicion’ that a crime had occurred.
The eight crimes listed include child pornography, gambling, prostitution, and ‘crimes against Ataturk’.
In June, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said the law was being used to block access to more than 5,000 sites, making internet censorship in Turkey amongst the heaviest in the world.