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BBC throws strop at 'Ceefax Google'

Dutch website lets users browse Auntie content

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A Dutch consultant has provoked the anger of the BBC by creating a website which lets users browse Ceefax, the broadcaster’s popular teletext service. The BBC has demanded the closure of the site, claiming copyright infringement.

Hendrik Noorderhaven, a former candidate for the European parliament, started the website two years ago because he used to watch Ceefax on television to follow British sports results. BBC 1 and 2 are both available on the Dutch cable TV system. However, for reasons the BBC never fully explained, the broadcaster decided two years ago to show only a limited version of the teletext pages in the Benelux. Ceefax cannot, like the Dutch equivalent Teletekst, be watched online either.

Noorderhaven decided to ask a friend in the UK to capture all Ceefax data from a PCTV card and send it to a server, which can be searched like Google. The site is not a duplicate of BBC Ceefax, Noorderhaven stressed earlier this week on Dutch radio. "I simply can’t see why this is copyright infringement. If it is, then Google is illegal too. We merely link to information that the BBC owns."

Although most of Ceefax-information is also available online, but in a different format, many people prefer the Ceefax environment, Noorderhaven says. And he may have a point there: The Dutch Teletekst pages are among the most popular sites in the Netherlands. Noorderhaven's Ceefax.tv attracts 15,000 daily visitors, many of whom are from the UK. ®

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