Earlier this week I noted that the BBC had forced the YouTube channel of the Wings Over Scotland website off air for supposed copyright infringements. Subsequent events have become something of a saga. The tale is related on their site.
First the BBC could not explain their actions.
Next it became clear that the action was taken as a result of a complaint by a Labour Councillor with a dubious history on social media and a track record of using BBC clips to attack the SNP. His site was not taken down despite this.
Then he denied anything was his fault.
Alex Salmond intervened demanding the BBC explain, and praised social media for providing an archive of such cuttings that would otherwise be lost. One clip objected to by the BBC was of him.
After that the First Minister objected to the very obvious bias arising because this was only happening to nationalist websites.
And the BBC then, temporarily, withdrew its objection. The website is up again, for now.
Three thoughts. First, this shatters forever the BBC’s credibility in Scotland, not that it had much left after 2014.
Second, we should worry elsewhere. Sometime soon people will demand every quote be taken down from left of centre sites for breach of copyright. I expect this at some time, and this blog will then be over.
Third, worry then for freedom of speech. That the BBC should be threatening this is the surest indication that the concern is real.
But I’d add another thought. That is for Stuart Campbell who runs the Wings website. I guess it will be no surprise to anyone that we are acquainted. He must have had the most awful week. It can be said there is no such thing as bad publicity. And I am delighted that many have rallied to defend his right to express his opinion, including senior politicians. But that will not have reduced the stress of such a week. I have some inkling as to how these things feel. He has my sympathy, and respect for winning so handsomely on this, to date.