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Kanye West video may cause epileptic seizures, warns UK charity

23 Feb 2011

People with photosensitive epilepsy should not watch the music video for Kanye West’s latest single, All of the Lights, a UK charity has warned. Epilepsy Action is informing its members that the extensive use of flashing imagery in the video could cause seizures in some people.

Epilepsy affects around 456,000 people in the UK.  As many as five per cent of people with epilepsy could have photosensitive epilepsy, which means their seizures are triggered by flashing or flickering light. Seizures can cause injury and can, in the worst cases, be fatal.

Epilepsy Action asked Cambridge Research Systems to run the video through their Harding Flash and Pattern Analyser. This machine looks at whether video footage is likely to cause seizures. It was confirmed yesterday that the video contains flashes at a rate at which seizures can be triggered.

Ofcom regulations mean that this video should not be broadcast on UK television. However, the Kanye West video is still available online, most notably on YouTube where it has had several million hits, and no such regulations exist for online broadcasting. Epilepsy Action has contacted Kanye West’s agent, YouTube and other online sources of the video to ask that they take it down.

Epilepsy Action is calling for the introduction of regulation of online material to prevent unnecessary harm to people with photosensitive epilepsy. The charity has today written to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, to ask whether there are any plans to introduce regulation of online material.

Aimee Gee, PR and campaigns manager at Epilepsy Action, said: “We are deeply concerned that this video may be harmful to some people with photosensitive epilepsy. We are doing all we can to warn people who may be affected not to watch it. It has already received over four million hits on YouTube so we feel it is unfortunately very likely that people may have already been affected.”

If people have concerns or have been affected by this video, they can contact the Epilepsy Helpline on freephone 0808 800 5050 or email helpline@epilepsy.org.uk . People outside the UK can call on +44 113 210 8800 or find a list of local epilepsy organisations at www.epilepsy.org.uk/about/international-epilepsy-organisations

This warning comes after several recent accidental broadcasts of flashing imagery on different UK television stations. On Monday, the BBC issued a reminder to its TV journalists following an upheld complaint about flash photography during footage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, without an appropriate warning.