ANN7 gaffe videos removed from YouTube, is it prepping for online war?

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A number of YouTube videos highlighting gaffes by the anchors of newly launched South African news channel ANN7 have been removed, apparently over copyright violations.

As we reported on Friday, the launch of South Africa’s third 24 hour news channel was far from smooth, with a number of embarrassing clips appearing online, drawing ire from the country’s Twittersphere at the same time.

The clips showed the channel experiencing a number of technical errors, as well as its presenters stumbling over scripts and mispronouncing the names of people in their reports. Among those who fell victim to the gaffes were Australian cricket captain Michael Clark, renamed “Michelle” and South African rugby star Morne Steyn, who was renamed “Mourn”.

Any attempt to play those clips now however is met with a message stating that they have been taken down “due to a copyright claim by Aiplex Software Pvt.Ltd”. The Bangalore, India-based company has previously been contracted by the Motion Picture Association of America to deliver copyright notices to websites that they deem violate copyright laws.

Update: We have received a screen grab of the takedown notice from a user who had a number of ANN7 videos removed:

ANN7 video removal requests

While it was initially unclear whether or not Aiplex sent out the removal requests at the behest of ANN7, the Indian company has reportedly confirmed that this is the case.

It always seemed likely however that ANN7 sent out the requests, given that the company’s Wikipedia page lists the Gupta family — members of which are among ANN7’s owners — as key people.

In the past, Aiplex has reportedly been responsible for distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) to sites if that fail to remove any content it deems to have offended copyright law. Despite the fact that those reports have the company openly admitting to using DDoS attacks, in late 2011 it began sending out requests to bloggers to remove the content and links of articles that reported on Aiplex’s use of DDoS attacks, claiming that such media coverage was “defaming the company’s image & its prospects.”

Memeburn has reached out to YouTube and ANN7 for comment on the matter and will update the story accordingly when they reply. It would seem however that Aiplex may technically have had valid grounds for requesting that the videos be removed.

According to YouTube’s own copyright information page, the site “removes content when we receive complete and valid removal requests”. Anyone whose content is affected by the removals can also submit a counter-notification arguing aspects like fair use and eventually have it put back up.

ANN7’s decision to broker the services of Aiplex may however end up causing more harm to the channel’s already tarnished reputation than good.

Attempts to suppress online content a party deems embarrassing backfire so frequently that the phenomenon has its own name: the Streisand effect. In instances such as this, an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the internet.

As well as the videos being removed, a number of Twitter parody accounts including @ann7news have been suspended. At least one parody account is still tweeting though:

If ANN7 and, by extension, the Gupta family have decided to wage war on the internet, it’s therefore unlikely to end well. Indeed, journalist and activist Michelle Solomon has already issued a challenge to the online community to keep uploading ANN7 gaffes to as many platforms as possible:

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