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YouTube blocks "El Universal" from its site following allegations of plagiarism

(CEPET/IFEX) - Mexico, 12 June 2009 - The internet video site YouTube suspended the daily "El Universal" from its website after the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN) in Nuevo León, northern Mexico, complained that the newspaper had published both in its printed and digital editions allegations that the party had plagiarized a 2006 campaign advertisement for Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero by using parts of the ad in a campaign for Fernando Elizondo, a PAN candidate.

The newspaper's multimedia deputy director, Hilda García Villa, said that, on 11 June, YouTube notified "El Universal" that the PAN's Nuevo León branch had demanded the suspension of the daily from its site saying that the use of the materials from the advertisement constituted an infringement of authorship rights.

"We only made a comparison of the two commercials, we did not plagiarise anything," García Villa said. She went on to add that "El Universal" questioned the PAN's national headquarters on this issue, but, according to their spokesman, Héctor Villareal, they knew nothing about the action taken by the Nuevo León branch. Also, no one at the local branch admitted to having presented the request to YouTube. Both Juan Carlos Ruiz García, the Nuevo León PAN leader, and Ana Cristina Morcos, the party's legal director at the local level, denied presenting the complaint. Mónica Agredano, Elizondo's campaign spokesperson, and María de Jesús López, the campaign's press manager, also denied any connection to the complaint.

"We are looking for the real origin of the notification so we can show who was behind it. As far as we can see, the document given to YouTube asking for the material to be removed was from the local Nuevo León office," García Villa said. She added that "El Universal" is preparing a counter complaint aiming to reinstate their YouTube account, however they need to know the name of the PAN representative who made the original complaint in order to facilitate the process.

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