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YouTube removes documentary about opposition to mining activities in Ecuador

A screenshot of Intag community members being attacked by security forces during a protest against mining activities.
A screenshot of Intag community members being attacked by security forces during a protest against mining activities.

YouTube/Voz Vegana

On October 9, 2013, YouTube removed a video named "Harassment to Intag" (“Acoso a Intag”) by documentary maker Pocho Alvarez, [which examines] the problems of contamination due to mining activities within the community of Intag and the harassment it has suffered due to its opposition to mining projects in the area.

The video was removed from Alvarez's personal YouTube account, and from a blog belonging to the commoners of Intag, under copyright claims of Spanish company Ares Rights.This is the same company that removed from the web the documentary "Rafael Correa, Portrait of the Nation's Father", by Santiago Villa.

Alvarez told Fundamedios that Ares Rights alleged that copyright and property rights had been violated due to the partial exhibition of images of Correa's Weekly Broadcast N° 341, in which the President harassed those who oppose mining mega-projects. "The argument is far-fetched, since the Weekly Broadcast is meant to be public because it is a matter of transparency from the government to the people. It should not be subject to copyright", Alvarez indicated.

Alvarez mentioned that the documentary intended to respond to the "unjustified attacks" of the president to all those who oppose mega-mining projects, "who are have been doing this for over fifteen years, not fifteen days.

Currently, the video can be viewed on several websites, even though it has been removed from Alvarez´s official YouTube account.

This is the third time that Ares Rights succeeds in removing a video under copyright claims. In December 2012, the documentary by Santiago Villa mentioned above was removed under similar claims, and on September 2013 a video from website EcuadorLibreRed in which statements by the president during a Weekly National Broadcast about songwriter Santiago Guevara was removed under this argument as well.

Regarding Ares Rights, Adam Steinbaugh, expert on technology and blogger, mentioned that the company works for the governments of Ecuador and Argentina, and in several occasions it has managed to remove videos from the web in a clear attempt to hinder or delete material of public interest concerning both countries, alleging copyright claims. Likewise, in an article named "Spanish Firm Abusing Copyright to Censor Spying Documents Has Ties to Ecuador's Government" Steinbaugh revealed that several documents and files had been removed from and published by Buzzfeed, on an alleged purchase of communications surveillance equipment by the National Secretariat of Intelligence of Ecuador, among other similar cases.

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