Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been a supporter of the freedom of expression, speech and open debate on YouTube, but has also showed sensitivity in certain areas of the world. The most notable is in the Middle East, where Google Inc. (GOOG) blocked an anti-Islam film trailer from being viewed in those countries where unrest broke out – though it did not remove the video altogether.
When they say politics is local, that seems to strike a different chord in Brazil, where a campaign video for a Brazilian mayoral candidate resulted in the arrest of the president of Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) in Brazil due to defying a court order to have the video removed from YouTube. With such clamps starting to be placed on information web sites like YouTube, how this might affect the reach of Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) into the world market is something that may be watched by investors like billionaire fund manager Julian Robertson of Tiger Management, who had an $18.2 million play in Google stock at the end of June.
Fabio Coelho, the director-general of Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) in Brazil, was arrested because of a video that was posted to YouTube which mocked a mayoral candidate in Mato Grosso do Sul state. The arrest came about because the video, the courts ruled, violated a 1965 law that banned campaign ads that “offend the dignity or decorum” of a candidate. Even if YouTube did not post the video, Brazilian courts have held Web site executives responsible for the content and dissemination of such videos.
Coelho was released, and after Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) exhausted all appeals in defense of freedom of expression, Google Inc. (GOOG) agreed to take down the offending video. “We are profoundly disappointed to not have the opportunity of openly debating our arguments in the electoral justice system that the videos were legitimate manifestations of the freedom of expression and should continue (to be) available in Brazil,” Coelho said in an e-mail.