Open Europe Blog

The plot is thickening.

On Tuesday Open Europe posted on its blog and YouTube account a video of  GeenStijl reporter @TomStaal being pushed about and slapped by MEPs after he confronts them for allegedly ‘signing on and sodding off,’ or for collecting a €300 daily allowance from the European Parliament without actually doing any work.

The video since went viral, getting thousands of views in only a few hours. But this morning, we were surprised to discover that the video had been blocked and removed. Reason? Copyright infringement claim.

Screenshot of our ‘Sign In Sod off’ video being blocked on YouTube for copyright reasons by R.T.I.

But the story gets stranger. It’s not GeenStijl that’s behind the removal – quite the contrary, in fact –  Geenstijl wants maximum exposure. Instead it’s Italian mass media company R.T.I.

Tom Staal has confirmed to us that Geenstijl has absolutely no affiliation with R.T.I, and that they have no idea why their video is being blocked –  and Staal isn’t happy.

So what in the world is going on here? Well, we’re baffled, and plead for help from any savvy readers informed about copyright issues. But here’s a theory. R.T.I’s chief executive is Silvio Berlusconi’s son, Pier Silvio.

The R.T.I  copyright claim happens at the precise moment where the face of Italian MEP Raffaele Baldassarre appears. And it also happens happens that Baldassarre is a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s ‘Il Popolo della Libertà’ party.

Geenstijl has responded on its blog and it’s not mincing its words:

Just precisely what is going on we don’t know…but that ***** of a Silvio Berlusconi has apparently succeeded in removing Tom Staal’s report from Brussels from YouTube…Uploaders which have submitted a copy of the video on their channel are all suffering from bizarre vague copyright claims. There are even copies circulating where only the scene of the aggressive Raffaele Baldassarre is being blocked. That’s all very coincidental. Hey Silvio Berlusconi, stay clear off our internet! A very big vaffanculo! 

Coincidence? You decide.

Update 18.45: Tom Staal tells us that Martin Schulz, European Parliament President, may be launching an investigation against him and Daniel van der Stoep (@Dvanderstoep), the Dutch MEP who took him into the EP.

Update 19.50: From @BrunoBrussels :

Update 10.00 (1 July): We contested R.T.I’s copyright claim to the ‘sign in, sod off’ video on our YouTube account, on the basis that it is owned by Geenstijl who gave us permission to use it. The block on the video was subsequently removed.

Update 14.00 (1 July): Geenstijl has formally written to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament to complain about the behaviour of the MEPs in question.

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