YouTube Infringement

 By Shamus Aug 24, 2009 57 comments

The “copyright dispute” system in YouTube is pathetic. Remember my Reset Button video?


Link (YouTube)

Someone claimed I was using their “copyrighted material”. That’s pretty hard to believe, since I made the content myself. There are a few still images used in there, but they’re from promotional materials from Nintendo, Sony, etc. and they fall easily under fair use. But someone from the Japanese YouTube channel eb!TV claimed that some unspecified portion of my video infringed on their content. Now they get a free link from the video’s page, which accuses me of stealing content. Also, ads now run over the bottom of my video.

I disputed the claim, but now I have to wait for a response from the accuser. I don’t think he has much incentive to get back to me in a hurry, since the longer he takes the longer his ad sits on my page for free. This entire system is preposterous. I’m not crazy about the guilty-until-you-can-prove-yourself-innocent attitude of it, although I guess that’s necessary on YouTube’s part because they don’t want to end up mediating a bunch of disputes. However, the system of giving a free link to the accuser and then making the accused fight to get rid of it is a nasty one, since it sets up incentives for people to game or abuse the system in order to increase traffic. The fact that the accuser doesn’t even need to make specific claims is even worse, since they can make drive-by blanket accusations claiming that “some unspecified portion of your ten-minute video is taken from us” and then leave all the legwork to the accused to figure out what part they might be talking about and address it specifically.

This sucks. I can’t stand that eb!TV gets a link and a finger in my eye every time someone visits the page. (The accusation the “this uses content from eb!TV” bothers me more than the link itself.) I’ve scanned through their archives. The only thing I could find is this Mirror’s Edge video, which is a lame-ass shot of the game taken from a camcorder aimed at a TV. The thumbnail view of their video looks like the opening of mine, except mine was taken directly from the game and not that amateur-hour setup they have going there. But all Mirror’s Edge footage looks more or less the same. Is that the basis of their claim? That I somehow swiped the crappy TV footage and magically turned it into my nice, clean direct-feed footage? Or is it something else? How am I supposed to defend myself against this sort of nonsense?

Do I take my video down? It’s only got 28k views, which is pretty small. Having said that, doing so will hurt me (my hard work gone) more than it hurts my accuser. (Who will lose the tiny trickle of traffic I bring them, perhaps a visit a day or something similarly meaningless.) It doesn’t help that the accuser is Japanese, and thus operating under an entirely different language and set of IP laws.

A system where you’re guilty and punished until you can prove yourself innocent against lazily vague claims (the details of which have never even been shown to me) of infringement with no cost or penalty to the accuser – even if they are proven wrong – is unjust and unhealthy. eb!TV should have been required to not only cite what portion of my video infringed, but also where I supposedly took the content from. That can still be faked, but at least it would require the accuser to commit an act of deliberate deception rather than just fire off an email and get free advertising at my expense.

As it stands, I could do a bunch of legwork, harangue YouTube for details, and maybe win the fight and get the video cleared, and all that will happen is that my video will return to normal. Adding to the injustice is that fact that drawing attention to the problem increases their benefit even more. Now lots of people will click on that link and view their channel.

Jerks.


20201757 comments. It's getting crowded in here.


  1. DGM says:

    Ouch.

    What about other video-hosting services? Maybe one of them has a more reasonable policy?

  2. Yes, that is annoying in the extreme. On the other hand, you have to hope anyone intelligent enough to be listening to you is intelligent enough to make up their own mind about such a channel (which I’m guessing is not that great)

  3. Karizma says:

    @DGM: Possibly. But I think that YouTube would get more traffic.

    Shamus, that just sucks. I say go ahead and fight it. It’s your work.

  4. Neil Polenske says:

    Not to sound…however I’m sounding like but, there ARE other video hosting sites available to you on them big ole internets.

  5. Jimmie says:

    I wonder if you could take your video down, wait a couple weeks, then put it back up.

    Then, accuse eb!TV of stealing your content. You wouldn’t continue it seriously, just long enough to have your annoying link on their video for a little while. You could, I presume, drop your compaint whenever you wanted.

  6. Peter H. Coffin says:

    I feel DMCA takedown process is flawed in that it is too easy to issue; a requirement that takedowns orders must be accompanied by at least C&D letter from a real law firm would go a long, long way to stemming this.

    And by no means should that video stay down. That just rewards them. Contest it, and the video goes back up in 14 days or whatever if they haven’t filed suit in your district by then.

  7. Peter H. Coffin says:

    @Jimmie, that is exactly the WRONG tactic. The entire key to legal wrangles like this is NEVER EVER back off from your position.

    (Yeah, yeah, IANAL, but I’ve fought this battle myself.)

  8. João says:

    mmm I followed the link you have up there and can see your video just fine… no takedown notices :-)

  9. windscar18 says:

    Actually, it seems a lot of the YouTube flagging offenders are coming from Japan, as there’s a lot of paranoia over what gets placed on Youtube or not. For example, because fansubs are so rampant, anime companies tend to attempt to take down anything showing their anime, even if it is parody material and even if it is the type of material that might attract sales (You might have heard about Dragon Ball Z Abridged being taken down by Toei, for example). The same thing goes for games, as many YouTube videos actually post the links to ROM/ISO downloads right on the video’s comments. Of course, the amount of videos that do this are in the minority, but since this is the Japanese, who probably don’t have time to look through and translate all the English videos, they’re probably just taking down everything.

    There’s a Japanese alternative to Youtube called Nico Nico Douga, and I’m pretty sure they don’t get the same treatment, due to the companies actually being familiar with the videos and content on there, although I might be wrong on this.

  10. Primogenitor says:

    Put it up as a different YouTube entry? And then claim your original infringes your own copyright. Would that replace the Japanese link with one to your own (duplicate) video?

  11. Henebry says:

    If you want to pursue this, go to the EFF.

    And, readers: if you find this sort of stuff outrageous, send the EFF a contribution.

  12. Benjamin Orchard says:

    Henebry has the right of this.

    The EFF is the way to go for stuff like this. They have the legal knowledge, the clout and the willingness to tackle this sort of thing. If you find yourself dealing with this sort of problem AND are sure you are clearly in the right, then the EFF is the way to go. If you have blatantly broken some IP law, then it may be a touch trickier, but at least TALKING with the EFF is worthwhile.

    And yes, donating to them is worthwhile…

  13. Deoxy says:

    Couldn’t you just take it down and repost it? Since they are just doing a drive-by anyway, I doubt they would even notice.

    But yeah, the system is quite thoroughly broken… no, actually, I think it’s working exactly as the purchasers of said legislation wanted. Oops, my cynicism is showing.

  14. Niriel says:

    Filing a false DMCA is actually illegal and punishable by law ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqcD1MIap6E ), but maybe not in Japan :/. It was a bit of a trend a few months ago when some religious fanatics would file false DMCA’s to silence videos which they found too ‘scientific’. It went quiet after the intervention of some lawyers… Getting many users to write to YouTube about this false DMCA and asking your video to be cleaned seems to be the only thing that works. It’s a messy system…

  15. Ian says:

    @João:

    mmm I followed the link you have up there and can see your video just fine… no takedown notices

    The problem isn’t that the video was taken down in this case. eb!TV reported that the video contained content from them, so YouTube threw a link to their site in the right sidebar and embedded ads in Shamus’s video.

    That’s the thing that Shamus is trying to fight.

  16. datarat says:

    A long time ago I published 2 fifteen second clips from Stargate SG-1 praising the show and got yanked. Maybe I should argue the fair use issue, but it’s been two years and they’ve been stalking my website ever since.

    It’s pretty irritating.

  17. Zerotime says:

    It’s only got 28k views, which is pretty small.

    Aw, man. The sum total of my YouTube account is like half of that. :(

  18. GTB says:

    Do what everyone else is doing and migrate all of your videos to one of the other hundreds of fine video hosting websites that are not youtube.

  19. Shadowbird says:

    Why don’t you just do the same in return? Write YouTube that all or most of eb!TV videos are stealing content from you, and see how he deals with it. He might actually start replying to you then. If a system is broken, it’s those playing by the rules that suffer, while anyone abusing the law gets all manner of free rides (case in point — your “favorite ride” — DRM and piracy).

  20. Factoid says:

    The copyright infringement claim system youtube has is a complete joke. They should really be relying 100% on “ContentID” which is their system for automatically flagging infringing content.

    If you layer an audio track into your video, such as that They Might Be Giants song in your rollercoaster tycoon video, Youtube can more than likely detect that automatically. If your username is not a registered, authorized users of that copyright it will automatically place an ad and start sending royalties to the copyright owner.

    This may seem arbitrary and unfair, but in reality it basically gives everyone the right to use whatever copyrighted material they want without asking permission and have everyone be completely cool with it. You don’t get a cut of the ad revenue, but then again you didn’t go in with that expectation since you’re posting it on YouTube.

    Anyone who wants to file a copyright infringement claim should have to submit their copyright ID and upload a fingerprint into youtube’s database, that way google can autonomously mediate claims without human intervention.

    If they discover “yeah, this is using video cut from a legitimately copyrighted source” then up goes the ad and the link. If not your video gets a free ride.

    The way it’s set up now is just by making a claim they can begin sharing royalties without any verification. Google obviously can’t mediate that kind of a system, so it’s completely vulnerable to abuse.

  21. Chris says:

    It’s a shame the perjury in filing false DMCA notices is never enforced. This is exactly what let’s them get away with making blanket claims like this. After you clear it up, they could just go right back and do it again. It would only take them a few seconds filling out the webform.

    For what it’s worth I went on their channel and gave a bunch of their videos 1-star ratings.

  22. Drakey says:

    Hi, amature comment here, cause im just going to go on eye for an eye or something like that.

    Flame them back, the damage is done, and you cant really turn around and completely forget about it and have it magically dissapear as if it were under Nocturnals Cowl.

    You are unbelievably creative, im sure you could come up with a clean cut video on the subject of free advertising through hate mail or something.

    Your awesome bub, and though some of us casual readers may not post all the time to you, many like me care that you get your credit where credit is owed.

    anyway, goosh goosh, You can burn that, and probably make a point in the bigger picture while your at it.

    Yay. turn a negative into a positive (or double negative, ultimately leading to a positive, even though something about two wrongs… uhhh nevermind.)
    :)

  23. Lupis42 says:

    You could always start a write in campaign. I don’t have a YouTube account, but if I did I would happily spam eb!TV with complaints that all their websites infringed on a video that, say, explained why they were being accused and referred people to your work…

    I wonder if you could find a way to get 4chan annoyed at them.

  24. You can always put an annotation or a note in the description that says that it does NOT contain content from them and that they issued a fraudulent claim. It won’t do anything to stop them, but it’ll feel good.

  25. Well, I don’t see the ad you complain about, but that may be due to my own ad-blocking. How about everybody click on that ad if you see it? The advertiser pays for it.

  26. mcgurker says:

    @Lupis42
    I was going to say something about what a bad idea it is to ever admit that 4chan exists, and then I saw your screen name.

    This is bollocks, Shamus. I say we start a petition. Besides, they promised us tons of free content!

    Wait, wrong blog post, sorry.

  27. Rutskarn says:

    This post reminded me of the sketch Doug Walker made when his 5 Second Movie videos were taken down, despite falling under Fair Use. Basic gist is that YouTube comes down very hard on anyone accused of using copyrighted information, and favors the accusers with an incredible amount of trust.

    http://www.thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/sketches/62-edward-r-spoof

    (Language)

  28. Hipparchus says:

    Don’t take it down! I love that video! That is what the annoying pesty accuser wants you to do. So don’t do it! Perhaps you could find another video uploading site?

  29. Tacoma says:

    Step 1: Go to the library. Get on the internet and create a Hotmail account and then a Youtube account with it.

    Step 2: Make a video using the library computer’s version of Windows Movie Maker and Paint to make text-only panels describing your problem and how eb!TV sucks. Upload a video you make. Include no personally identifying information.

    Step 3: Initiate automated complaints against the eb!TV channel(s) at every one of their movies. Use your new Youtube account as the plaintiff.

    Step 4: ???

    Step 5: All their movies have ads running at the bottom for your empty Youtube account. You cannot be reached for mediation. You never sign in to that hotmail or youtube account ever again except on the library computer.

    If the system allows people to screw you over, refusing to protect you from them, you should defend or retaliate using the same system. Poetic justice is the best justice.

  30. UtopiaV1 says:

    I didn’t click their link Shamus! Yay for self-control!

  31. Kdansky says:

    If you need japanese swearswords and insults, I’d be happy to oblige.

    I would remove the youtube video, or even replace it with something that goes: “You are watching a cheap ripp off by ebTV”, then re-uppload it under a different name (not your name, the name of the video). They don’t have the manpower to follow up and change their URL, I’m sure.

  32. Heron says:

    This is why I hate the DMCA. I’m sure I’d be preaching to the choir if I ranted about it right now.

    It looks like we can send an e-mail to copyright@youtube.com if we want to pester them about this. E-mail campaign, anyone?

  33. I second Tacoma’s suggestion for massive retaliation. Great minds think alike. :D Two can play at abusing a broken system.

  34. John Lopez says:

    Have you won already? I just watched the video and it was clean.

  35. Paramnesia says:

    I hate people who try to steal credit or take advantage of other people’s hard work. If you leave it up while you decide what to do, perhaps in the video description include a link to this article explaining the “contains content from eb!TV”.

    @John Lopez
    Under the video URL/embedded URL there’s a “contains content from” line.

  36. froogger says:

    Breathe. Remember to breathe, Shamus.

  37. SeekerOfThePath says:

    You might try to remove the video and upload it again. If it’s just a scam, an attempt to increase traffic to their site, those people won’t be paying attention to your video again. On the upside, the link and accusation will be removed, fast. On the downside, all links to the video will be invalidated and you will lose views.

  38. ngthagg says:

    The link is in the info box in the top right corner, above the “related videos” box.

    I hope you do not follow the “eye for an eye” approach. That just legitimizes what they are doing to you. I took a quick look through youtube’s help section and I can find lots of stuff about when your video is taken down, but I can’t find anything about this situation. Frustrating.

  39. David says:

    Anyone else reminded of the rollercoaster video incident?

  40. Badger says:

    DMCA issues are only applicable to parties in the States- in other words, someone from outside the US can falsely claim infringement without consequence, thus having the clip removed or ad-spammed. Additionally, being outside US jurisdiction, they have little to no incentive to actually follow up in the case of a counterclaim. Unfortunately, Youtube is hosted in the States, thus making it easy and cheap for people to abuse the System. I have no idea why Google doesn’t relocate their servers to another less litigious climate, but I am guessing it has to do with tax issues (on the other hand, if you can indeed prove that the server hosting the video is not on US soil, then any DMCA claims would be void).

    I’m with those advocating to stick it out- simply change your information text to let visitors know those guys are scum, change the video title, etc. DON’T take it down and re-upload- that will reset the view count, and will be a win for the Bad Guys. There are better ways to deal with it, and your reputation will come out ahead in the end. I suspect you have more viewers than they do anyways- at least in terms of IQ points.

    Also, make sure to explain to YouTube that there needs to be consequences to ebTV for abusing the flagging system, and that you want those consequences deployed in full force. People need to be held accountable for their abusive behaviour, and since ebTV has obviously violated the Terms of Use, YouTube needs to act appropriately.

    According to their website YouTube reviews each copyright claim individually before acting on it, so there has to be some way to find out WTF is going on. Filers of takedown notices are required to be pretty specific when notifying YouTube, so there ought to be something in the files.

  41. Daf says:

    I’m also not seeing anything embedded about eb!TV (or anything else) in your video itself, Shamus (which I watched all over again, and linked to a few friends since you thought you were low on views ;))

    I do see a link over on the right at the bottom of the info box (which I’m also not clicking on; yay for willpower)

    P.S. Happy birthday, Shamus :)

  42. Heron says:

    Just a quick update. I sent YouTube a complaint about this incident (via copyright@youtube.com) this morning, only to get a copy-and-paste response a few minutes ago.

    Supposedly, a human named Justin read my e-mail and responded with a well-written, completely irrelevant informational message. Notably, the message reads as if I were the owner of the supposedly infringing video.

    If anyone’s interested in seeing a copy of the message, send me a note at (heron at xnapid dot com) and I’ll forward you a copy.

  43. MuonDecay says:

    Shame it’s not an American company making that claim.

    Making fraudulent DMCA claims in bad faith carries a penalty to the tune of several thousand dollars… and once people troll claims long enough the EFF is usually happy to drag them to a court in a class-action and do their best to claim it.

    *edit* oh and Shamus, have you considered using Revver instead? They generally provide a higher quality of video hosting, and they share ad revenues with their uploaders for ads clicked during their videos. The videos are also reviewed by real, live humans for potential copyright issues and if there’s any doubt you merely have to make a good-faith claim of appropriate use via email and your video is put up and they’ll stand behind it.

  44. Uncle Festy says:

    @ mcgurker:
    “This is bollocks, Shamus. I say we start a petition. Besides, they promised us tons of free content!
    Wait, wrong blog post, sorry.”
    Hah, nice.
    Anyways, this whole thing stinks like a bucket of rotten eggs. Don’t know enough to give good advice, but good luck, whatever you do!

  45. gorthol says:

    I work for them. I’ll see what I can do. It may be nothing, but hey – at least I’m already on the inside.

    I don’t see the ad, but I do see the “Contains Content From” bologna. I’ll get back to you.

  46. Ken Zieger says:

    Welcome to how to the credit card companies and reporting agencies work. They do the same thing. A collection agency files a simple complaint and it’s the consumer who has do the proving.

  47. Another Scott says:

    I like Tacoma’s approach, except I was thinking more along the lines of all of us who want to make a strike in the name of poetic (albeit petty) justice.

    Actually that sounds a bit like the fiasco with that teenager who claimed to have made Shamus’ Coster-Tycoon-Bowling video. Maybe we shouldn’t jump the gun this time…

    Unless of course Shamus unleashes us nerds like hoards of flying monkeys to do his bidding!

  48. Martin Annadale says:

    Take your video down and resubmit it. You’ll lose the views you’ve accumulated, but at least you’ll get rid of the link.

  49. Jattenalle says:

    The video works fine.

    Also YouTube (Google) has the right to take down your videos for any reason whenever they bloody damned feel like it.

    Just like you have the right to remove comments from this blog that you don’t like.

    May I suggest you simply upload your videos as torrents? Then people can just download them.
    Not only will your videos remain available as long as there’s interest, they’ll also be of a far superior quality.

    Simply provide a torrent link below your videos in the future. If the YouTube one goes down for whatever reason there’s still the download.

    Note:
    This post is not a swipe at Shamus, I’m merely pointing out fact.
    I agree completely that YouTube’s policy is bullshit and that the video was wrongfully taken down.

  50. MuonDecay says:

    Jattentalle, you can’t embed videos which are merely torrent-hosted files. The point of online video hosting isn’t as much a means of distribution as it is specifically a means of facilitating real-time streaming and embeddable video.

    Torrents are great for distribution alone, but can’t support streaming, and in fact are probably the least effective platform to ever consider for streaming because pieces are received in random order.

    Also I must emphatically second the suggestion I’ve made of using Revver. I love the video quality they offer and the bandwidth they use to stream is comparable to youtube’s. Youtube’s policies suck, their compression technology sucks… there’s nothing about Youtube that doesn’t suck.

  51. Tacoma says:

    You know, I was thinking the other day about how Craigslist is perfect. They’re free, no ads, community-moderated, low-bandwidth, better area coverage than anywhere else, better categories and such.

    There’s no reason for any other company to come in and take any market share from CL. CL just does everything the best way possible. If some company started a knock-off CL but had ads, I’d never use it. I doubt many would.

    Point is, because it’s so good and it has name recognition and a sizable community, it’s well-defended against usurpers. Youtube was like that for a long time. But Youtube doesn’t do everything optimally, and in fact is really crummy when you look at competitors. All it has going for it is name recognition and size of the user community. So it’s in a very dangerous position, market-wise.

    Just like Friendster lost to Myspace, who did it better, and Myspace is dying because it sucks and there are alternatives that are better in every way, Youtube may one day fold. And it’s policies like this one that will help it along.

  52. Barron says:

    You’d think he was actually costing you hits or something, as opposed to giving you an excuse to blog about it again…

  53. Jattenalle says:

    @MuonDecay, oh I know I was merely offering a suggestion that would make the video available “always”. The actual embedded video would still be there, I merely suggested a link below/wherever the video where you can download it.

  54. SteveDJ says:

    @42 Heron:

    Sounds like we don’t need to bother asking you for a copy of that email – we can just send an email (empty even?) to copyright@youtube.com ourselves and get our own, identical copy! :)

  55. Heron says:

    Haha… someone should try that, SteveDJ. Send them an empty e-mail, see what you get!

  56. SteveDJ says:

    Well, tried a blank email, and it was caught by their spam filter (though I am mildly impressed that they actually sent me an automated email telling me that it was caught by their spam filter).

    Then, I tried an email with “this is a test” subject and body. This time it was caught and refused because it couldn’t find appropriate DMCA information in the message.

    So, just from this exercise, it seems they are quite anxious to receive emails through that address, and are practially holding my hand leading me through what I need to file such complaint. :( (And, I’m no longer even slightly impressed with the spam auto-response).

    Too bad it doesn’t seem they are as anxious to receive legitimate appeals.

  57. Infrequent Reader says:

    I’m not so sure promotional material falls under fair use, it’s still under the original owner’s copyright. However that original owner is most likely not who reported you. :|

    As far as I can tell, youtube always deals with claims in this “guilty until proven innocent” manner. It’s the reason I don’t post anything of value there, myself.
    I suggest removing the video from there, and finding a different host. It may not be easy to find another video hosting site, but it’ll save you this guys pestering accusations (be they grounded or otherwise. You can find that out when he actually talks to you).

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