My Beef With YouTube

28 Feb 2006

I’ve been quite busy removing clips on YouTube. It seems that due to the growing popularity, YouTube suffers under the claims of copyright infringement from TV stations and content owners worldwide. I’ve been ordered to remove all content that’s not mine in order to prevent my account from being deleted. These last few days, I’ve been going throught the archive, deleting whatever content that had been broadcasted on TV. Apparently some content which had been online for months already is suddenly flagged as ‘inappropriate’, so I just received my ’strike two’. One more and I’m out.

Now here’s the problem: what do I do with the commercials? Commercials have copyrights too, but the entire point of a commercial is that it’s shown and distributed, so that the brand or product can be seen. I know I don’t pay for the rights to publish the commercials, and I know I’m using YouTube as a channel to broadcast commercials via links or players in iframes. Hundreds, maybe thousands of other people do it too. It’s part of the viral effect commercials have. If you like them, you share them.

So, I deleted over 200 clips and only left some 3D Animations and commercials online, hoping that this will do to comply to the YouTube standards. If they still cancel my account, I don’t think I’ll ever open up a new one again, not even on another video sharing website.

I understand you’re not supposed to put up entire tv-shows, but snippets from the news, or small funny samples… that should be possible I think. It’ll only help to promote the show. More people will watch it and if it’s gone from the channels (due to ‘end of series’) it can live on digitally. What’s wrong with that? The only thing that TV execs could say is that it takes away the possible success of a rerun, but I disagree. People will still watch it, if they have the time or if they’re still allowed to program their DVD recorder or VCR. (TV execs would like to control that too, it’s called DRM).

I really like YouTube, and considered it to be ‘my’ online archive of clips I like. I thought it would enable me to upload a clip once and then send the link to my friends via email, or put a player on my site. Instead, YouTube is in fact a family video site. If the content isn’t yours (which goes for about 3/4th of ALL of YouTube’s content) it shouldn’t be online on YouTube. YouTube’s policy states that clearly, so it covers them whenever ’someone’ complains about ‘their’ rights being violated. It’s a perfectly logic thing. But if you walk around on YouTube, you won’t find many users that restrict theirself to ‘proper’ content they produced by themselves. All these accounts are ticking. If it isn’t for the music they used, it’s because of the footage that’s been put online. Almost every user is violating the terms and conditions, without any doubt.

Question is: will the owner of the content be kind enought to permit YouTube users to rebroadcast the content and get some free publicity, or will those content owners send lawyers to YouTube? In most cases, unfortunately, it’s the second option. Therefor, YouTube has become a self-censoring company. Recently I received a notice to take down all content from Saturday Night Live, the clips form Nick Burns, your company computer guy, and all other snippets from any other show. I complied, confirming the deleted videos YouTube had marked. In the deletion process I came across the Jim Carrey snippet titled ‘A night at the Roxbury’ and I marked it as a private video, so no other users than friends from my list or family could see it. I didn’t know that clip was part of a Saturday Night Live show, but today I received my ’strike two’, saying YouTube removed that clip, from my private collection. It wasn’t public, it was private. So YouTube couldn’t have received a specific notification for that clip. They search their servers themselves for content that’s inappropriate (read ‘illegal or copyrighted’).

I expect a lot of user accounts to be terminated over time, because I see a lot of content that’s ‘in fact’ not supposed to be there. I’m just glad I received a notice to take action myself first, so that not all of my uploading time was wasted. I hope I did enough and that I can enjoy YouTube as an archive for the commercials I like, as a tribute to the creators of wonderful 3D movie animations.

Check out my ’shrunken’ profile, currently holding 320 clips instead of the 548.

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Posted by Miel Van Opstal in Uncategorized


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