Al Jazeera Targets YouTube "Pirate" to Comply with Egyptian Ban

Coverage: Egyptian Protests

Al Jazeera has presumably found real licensed attorneys to go after two Egyptian men in U.S. court over the operation of a YouTube channel known as "Al Jazeera TV1."

In a complaint filed in California on Monday, the Qatari-based news organization asserts that Amir Elsherif and Ahmed Taha have been running the channel in violation of copyright and trademarks.

Besides the issue of a California federal court's jurisdiction — which Al Jazeera asserts based on YouTube's reach in California and Digital Millennium Copyright Act counter-notices made by the defendants — the lawsuit raises a geopolitical issue of note.

Al Jazeera says that it launched the channel Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr ("Live Egypt") in 2011, but last year, an Egyptian court banned it from broadcasting. The ruling came after the channel was accused in the words of the BBC of "serving as the mouthpiece of the Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi — something the channel denied."

In its newest lawsuit, Al Jazeera notes, "The 2014 Ruling has been the subject of considerable public interest, debate and controversy in Egypt, across the Middle East and internationally. Pirating and unauthorized distribution of AJMM programming have become commercial enterprises that Al Jazeera regularly and diligently polices and seeks to repress, both to protect its valuable and exclusive intellectual property rights in its Mubasher Misr Programs and to restrict publication in recognition of the current state of Egyptian law."

According to the complaint, the defendants are not only using trade names deceptively similar to their own, but also broadcasting Mubasher Misr programs.

Al Jazeera says it submitted a copyright takedown notice, which caused Elsherif and Taha to issue counter-notifications. The videos are said to be unavailable, but the complaint states that "access to these videos may be restored at any time."

Here's the complaint filed on behalf of Al Jazeera by attorneys at DLA Piper.