The British Broadcasting Corporation has demanded video hosting websites such as YouTube remove all copyrighted materials, including episodes of the wildly popular Top Gear uploaded by users. Auto enthusiasts around the world have long been forced to download the television show from file-sharing or video hosting services, because it is not available in countries where BBC is not offered.
Top Gear has been available on YouTube since the site's founding in February 2005. While there are mounting concerns over content piracy on YouTube, most Top Gear fans assumed BBC would allow its content to remain on the service, because the broadcasting company is publicly funded. While other content providers risk losing sales or advertising dollars from YouTube piracy, BBC is advertisement- and subscription-free.
While some clips of Top Gear remain on the YouTube website, one prominent user's chronological collection episodes has been removed.
A notice on the site reads: "This video has been removed at the request of copyright owner the BBC because its content was used without permission."
While it's not clear how aggressive the BBC will be in its efforts to remove the show from Internet video services, it appears the days of readily accessible Top Gear are over for North American fans.