Actor wins YouTube fight over Sunshine on Leith

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A MAN who blagged a walk-on part in hit musical Sunshine on Leith has thwarted an attempt to make him remove footage he shot on set from YouTube.

Retired actor John Wallace claims he was warned to take his footage off the popular video site for breaching strict copyright laws.

Some of the footage of rehearsals for Sunshine on Leith. Picture: contributed

Some of the footage of rehearsals for Sunshine on Leith. Picture: contributed

But the plucky extra argued his clips of the flick’s memorable final scenes were captured in a public spot outside the National Gallery – and could have been filmed by any number of 
passers-by.

As such the 63-year-old has been allowed to keep his footage up – attracting around 12,000 views.

He said: “It was just a bit of fun, capturing this sort of footage is what I love to do.”

John, of Stockbridge, stumbled across the pivotal location shoot last May. He said: “I recognised some of the security guards and crew members from my time as an actor, so I asked if it was okay for me to take pictures and shoot some video of the rehearsal. I got the go-ahead and made three or four short films, including a little film of them going through the dance number in the final scene.”

John Wallace. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

John Wallace. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

John uploaded the footage and it immediately racked up a “respectable number of views”.

“By the time the film was due to be released about 1000 people had watched my video, but once Sunshine on Leith came out the views sky-rocketed and are now sitting at over 12,000,” he said.

However, it seems not everyone was pleased with what they saw.

“A few days ago a notice came up on my account saying I had been reported for a breach of third party musical copyright and that my video was going to be removed.”

But Mr Wallace decided he wasn’t going to take this lying down.

“I pointed out that the film is my property, filmed with my own equipment. As a citizen of the UK I can film and record anything I like in any public space. The song was given to the film company to use, they used it in a public space, and that’s the end of it.

“The fact is what I filmed isn’t even part of the actual movie, it’s a rehearsal.”

Mr Wallace says the warning label has now been removed from the video.

“I’m very pleased it’s been allowed to stay up,” he said.

“If they start trying to remove videos like mine then what happens if someone else is filming in the street and a song happens to be audible? Are all those videos infringing copyright too? It’s not 
workable.”

The film – featuring music by The Proclaimers and starring Jane Horrocks, opened on September 9 and took £290,000 in Scotland in its opening weekend – more than Mel Gibson’s epic Braveheart.

A spokeswoman for YouTube said: “We are not able to comment on specific videos or accounts.”

Freud Communications – acting for the film’s Entertainment Film Distributors – said they were unable to provide a statement.

jen.lavery@edinburghnews.com