The YouTube Takedown: Part Deux

The LA Times interviewed me last week regarding the YouTube takedown of my Star Wars on a Banjo video (see YouTube Is Out To Get Me). The article is on the web for your perusal here:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/01/youtube-warner.html

Following a link at the bottom of that article, I discovered the site of Ben Sheffner, who runs a blog called  Copyrights & Campaigns, and who helped clarify the specific aspects of the DMCA laws regarding this situation.  Thanks, Ben.

I remain optimistic that YouTube will unblock my video, but it will rely heavily upon what level Warner Music Group decides to micromanage counterclaims.

YouTube Is Out To Get Me

YouTube has implemented a three-phased attack to thoroughly rid me of any reason to ever talk nice about it again.  They have succeeded.

Phase I – Google Search Drops My Site

It started in late December.  I run a site called TheBestOfYouTube.com which is just a blog I use to feature random videos I find on YouTube.  I write a little about them, and link to the video.  No harm done, and this is completely acceptable (and encouraged through video embedding) by YouTube.

For two years, a search for “best of you tube” or “you tube best” would show my site either first or second in the search results.  There is another site similar to mine (though more succesful) at bestofyoutube.com which would be right there at the top of the search results with me.

One day in late December, that all changed.  I was nowhere to be found for those searches, but bestofyoutube.com was still there.  If I searched Google for “thebestofyoutube.com” it would still show the site.  Using Google’s Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics, it was revealed the site was still being indexed by Google.

There didn’t seem to be any sandboxing of my site, as it’s still findable, just not using those important keywords.  Needless to say, my traffic dropped by about 85%, and thus my ad revenue fell with it.  Curiously, in December, I had received my largest-ever payment from Adsense, as the site had been steadily gaining traffic the previous couple of months.

In case you were late to the meeting and didn’t hear, Google owns YouTube.

Was this a penalization of some sort by Google?  Did the bestofyoutube.com guys do something to get my site unlisted for those keywords?  I have no idea, and I have no idea how to figure it out.  Either way, the fact that my site is still in Google’s index leads me to believe it was something that targeted me specifically.

Phase II – The Empire Strikes Back

On January 18, I received a letter from YouTube stating that Warner Music Group was claiming infringement on my “Star Wars on a Banjo” video.  This was simply a video of me loosely interpreting the Star Wars theme on my banjo.  It had been up for over 2 years, had garnered over 1.5 million views, and was featured on the front page of sites such as Fark.com and Metafilter.com.  It led to me being interviewed by the local paper.

So they yanked it down, and I inquired about what to do on both Reddit.com and Metafilter.com. I received many varied responses, but the general consensus was that people were supportive of me, and that YouTube was overreacting.

Even though Warner claimed infringement, the video could easily be considered a parody, in which case it falls under fair use.  Still, YouTube has to take things like this down if a copyright holder complains, just to protect themselves under the DMCA laws.  The procedures state that it is now my turn to file a counter-claim, which might get my video back online if Warner doesn’t respond in 10 days.

I have filed the counter claim with YouTube, and am hoping to see the video return.  Stay tuned.

Phase III – Shock and Awe

This morning, I got another email from YouTube.  This time, they were letting me know that my Fingernail Collection video had been yanked for violating the YouTube Community Guidelines.

I guess that a video of someone licking fingernail clippings is considered a “shock” video. The funny thing is, in my opinion, it is completely ironic that people get grossed out by it.  What is the difference between biting your fingernails while they are on your finger and merely touching your tongue to them when they are off your finger?

I just don’t get it.

The video has been up for nearly two years, and for this to happen just a few days after my Star Wars banjo video takedown got a lot of attention in the Internet press, seems too coincidental to me.

In Summary

I have been disheartened by all of this.  I’ve always been a big fan of Google and their ventures (YouTube included), and to get the triple smackdown in three different areas has been quite demoralizing.

I do plan on contesting the Star Wars On A Banjo and fingernail video takedowns.

If the person at the other end of the line has an iota of reasoning abilities, they will hopefully see my point of view and put the videos back online.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this matter. Please comment!

Farked

Yesterday was an exciting day. One of my project sites, The Best of Youtube, got Farked by the popular news site Fark.com. Someone posted a link to my recent Star Wars on a Banjo video.

By the end of the day, I received over 32,000 visits to my site, which witheld the onslaught of traffic with grace (thank you, Dreamhost).

For a while, I was featured at Youtube on the “Most Viewed Today” page, rising to the 35th spot, and my video received an “honor” for this status. Strangely, my video suddenly vanished from this listing though, and the “honor” vanished, which I have yet to figure out.

The second comment on the posting at Fark.com was from none other than Drew Curtis, the creator and owner of Fark.com:

“This video pretty much sums up the entire Internet”

The rest of the feedback I received, through comments on fark.com, youtube.com, and thebestofyoutube.com, were mostly positive and funny. A few people didn’t seem to be able to hear the melody in the banjo picking, which is difficult sometimes for an untrained bluegrass ear.

I’ll be eagerly watching this over the next few days to see how much traffic I continue to get.