What happened when Vietnam's national broadcaster was caught pinching YouTube videos

Bui Minh Tuan used drones to capture stunning aerial shots - but got upset when Vietnam's national broadcaster used them without permission Image copyright Bui Minh Tuan
Image caption Bui Minh Tuan used drones to capture stunning aerial shots - but got upset when Vietnam's national broadcaster used them without permission

Vietnam's national broadcaster has been suspended from YouTube after it beamed out videos from an amateur photographer without his permission.

Bui Minh Tuan runs a motorbike business, and he also has a keen interest in drones and aerial photography. His shots of stunning Vietnamese scenery - such as the the one above - have been watched hundreds of thousands of times on his YouTube channel.

They also caught the attention of producers at Vietnam Television (VTV) - who apparently used Tuan's videos without his permission on at least five different occasions, both on air and on their own YouTube page. Tuan says he was not consulted or properly credited and that VTV producers only called him to apologise after each segment had aired on television. VTV sometimes even blurred out the logo of Tuan's channel before broadcast.

Image copyright Bui Minh Tuan / VTV
Image caption VTV broadcast several of the YouTube videos without Tuan's permission

Tuan told BBC Vietnamese that he tried several times to contact VTV to complain and that he eventually went to YouTube to report the alleged copyright violation. At the end of February, YouTube responded and shut down VTV's YouTube channel.

But far from being chastened, some VTV employees lashed out at Tuan. One VTV senior producer wrote on Facebook that his actions were far worse than what the broadcaster did.

"Even if a man steals a dog, killing the man is a far more condemnable act than stealing the dog," wrote Pham Dieo Anh. (If you're lost, apparently the dog is the drone footage and the dog thief is VTV. In this analogy, Tuan is presumably being compared to a murderer).

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tuan has received lots of support online.

"It's clear that VTV has violated copyright," one user commented. "VTV has taken advantage of its media power and the government's protection to disregard the law and not apologise. Because of this we should shame VTV so that they learn their lesson."

The broadcaster has since admitted wrongdoing. In a statement, VTV said producers had violated "production procedures" and that they were trying to get their YouTube channel back up again. Before it was suspended the channel had about 100,000 subscribers - Tuan's channel was actually more popular.

The case is being reviewed by Vietnam's official copyright authority. However, Tuan says, VTV's television channel is still continuing to use his footage without his consent.

Blog by Megha Mohan

Reporting by Hung Nguyen, BBC Vietnamese

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