Lawyers representing Fortescue Metal Group (FMG) and CEO Andrew Forrest have sent legal letters to a video hosting website requesting they take down a controversial clip of a native title meeting held in Roebourne last month despite issuing a denial to Crikey
yesterday that they'd been in touch with Vimeo.
In an email from FMG's legal team to Vimeo, Fortescue say the video is defamatory, misleading, "incites racial hatred" and is "designed to intimidate."
Uploaded by Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, the video attracted 12,000 plays in nine days before being removed on Tuesday by the New York-based video hosting site in response to the threats.
The video has since been uploaded to YouTube
and has been the subject of heated discussion on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
A spokesperson for Vimeo confirmed that the videos had been taken down for legal reasons. Fortescue spokesman Cameron Morse told Crikey
yesterday his company had not had any contact with Vimeo about the controversial video. When contacted by Crikey
this morning, Morse declined to clarify his comments.
Michael Cheah, legal counsel representing Vimeo, says the video was removed after the hosting site received correspondence from lawyers for FMG and Forrest alleging that the video contained defamatory and misleading statements about them.
"Please note that we take no position on whether any of the statements in the video are true or not," he said. "Rather, we have merely determined that the video could be subject of a defamation claim and, under Australian law, could subject Vimeo to liability."
In a series of emails sent to Vimeo last Thursday and obtained by Crikey
, FMG legal council Scott Adams requested the video be removed immediately. He cites a number of reasons for the video's removal, including that it "incites racial hatred", is "threatening" and is "designed to intimidate".
Not content with the response from Vimeo, FMG sent a legal letter dated Monday 11 April (also obtained by Crikey
) suggesting the video breached both Western Australian defamation law as well as federal competition and consumer law. Adams requested the video be removed immediately or the company would reserve rights to undertake legal action.