YouTube complies with Hong Kong court order banning popular protest song by blocking access to 32 clips

“We’ll continue to consider our options for an appeal, to promote access to information.”

The company said 32 video links were identified as prohibited publications under the government-sought injunction banning the song, with the corresponding videos blocked in Hong Kong.

These videos are no longer available for YouTube users in Hong Kong and Google’s search engine also no longer displays these clips in the city.

The Court of Appeal ruled earlier in favour of the government by granting an interim injunction it sought last year over the song, which has frequently been mistaken overseas for the national anthem.

US tech giant is YouTube’s parent company. Photo: AFP

The injunction bans people from “broadcasting, performing, printing, publishing, selling, offering for sale, distributing, disseminating, displaying or reproducing [the song] in any way” with the intention to incite others to separate Hong Kong from the rest of the country, commit a seditious act or insult the national anthem, “March of the Volunteers”.

It also prohibits anyone from playing the song in a manner likely to cause it “to be mistaken as the national anthem insofar as [Hong Kong] is concerned” or suggest the city “is an independent state and has a national anthem of her own”.

YouTube said the process to take down the song could take time, as its systems would need to recrawl the web.

It also noted the company’s mission was to give everyone a voice, adding that it shared the concerns of human rights organisations that the ban would have a “chilling effect” on free expression around the world.

A YouTube search using the term “Glory to Hong Kong” returned several results for the protest anthem on Wednesday, however, not all the video clips listed could be played.

Users who click on certain YouTube videos will be greeted with a black screen covering the clip and a statement informing viewers it is unavailable because of a court order. However, some clips featuring the song can still be played.


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