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Google defies Turkey, reinstates Atatürk insult videos

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Update Google has reinstated the Atatürk-insulting videos that caused the Turkey's 30-month YouTube ban, setting up yet another run-in with local authorities just days after a Turkish court lifted the ban.

Late last week, at the request of the semi-independent Turkish Internet Board, a German company used Google's automatic copyright protection system to have the four videos taken down. On Saturday, a court lifted the ban on YouTube, pointing out that the videos were no longer available. But Google now says it has reinstated the videos because they did not violate copyrights.

"When we looked into this, we found the videos were not, in fact, copyright infringing, so we have put them back up, though they continue to be restricted within Turkey. We hope very much that our users in Turkey can continue to enjoy YouTube," reads a statement Google sent to The Reg.

The head of the country's Telecommunications Transmission Directorate told The Wall Street Journal he would meet with Google "in the coming days." The head of the Internet Board said that if Google's statement about the videos was true "it would make it more difficult for our board to defend YouTube", and that the ban may be put back in place.

Until this past weekend, Turkish authorities had continuously blocked access to YouTube since May 2008, after users uploaded videos that insulted the Turkish republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The government previously banned the site on at least three other occasions.

Apparently, the first ban – laid down in 2007 – was a response to a parody news broadcast in which Greek football fans taunted the Turks by saying: "Today's news; Kemal Atatürk was gay!"

Under Turkish law — Law 5651 — the courts can shut down a website if it attacks Atatürk or incites suicide, paedophilia, drug usage, obscenity, or prostitution. The original video was removed, but prosecutors have since objected to various other videos insulting Atatürk, including the four that were just reposted by Google.

Turkish president Abdullah Gül has used Twitter to criticise the country's YouTube ban. "About Turkey’s YouTube prohibition: I don't approve of the state's blocking of Google categories. Legal channels can be found," he tweeted.

The ban has been a stumbling block in the country's efforts to join the European Union. ®

Updated: This story has been updated with additional info supplied by Google.

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