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!

About Will Chatham

Will Chatham is a Cyber Security Analyst, Ethical Hacker, and Penetration Tester at a federal data center in Asheville, NC. Since Netscape 2.0, he has worked in a wide array of environments including non-profit, corporate, small business, and government. His varied background, from developer to search engine optimizer to security professional, has helped him build a wide range of skills that help those with whom he works and teaches.
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4 Comments

  1. Ugh, the fingernail video–seriously? That was one of the most disgusting yet kick-ass things I’ve ever seen. I wanted to show a friend–do you have a copy anywhere else?

  2. jeff hinton (lippie)

    Will,
    I don’t know if you remember me. I was Scott Ritcher’s partner in the early days of Slamdek. I came across your site from reading Crain articles. First off way back in time I loved the WEA music group, Warner Bros. has done a 180 from the label they were in the late 80’s. Good ole American greed at work. Finding out Google and Youtube are helping in the censorship is pretty disheartening to say the least. I will start my usual grass roots protest, which never amounts to much, but it does mean somewhere someone will have to delete heavily worded emails from me. As for the nail collection, I think I first became aware of that through Joey M.. I love that collection, it has been a story I ‘ve passed along many times over the years, as it was to me just another example of how great the kids in Louisville scene were.

    • Hey Jeff,
      I do remember you, actually! Thanks for writing. It’s always good to know someone out there is actually reading this stuff. I often think of the old days in Louisville and miss them a lot. You still there?
      -Will

  3. jeff hinton (lippie)

    Nice to be remembered. Yes, I am still in Louisville. I miss that scene also, not quite as definable now. Recently I spoke w/ Scott about doing a 20th anniversary “reunion” of some of Slamdek’s acts and donating any monies to charity. I know we are actualyy about a year to a year and a half past the actually 20th, but I thought that would be even more fitting since Slamdek never met an originally stated date on anything it did. I said something to Joey and Todd Cook about it and they thought it was a good idea and were onboard. Scott was also, but is about to leave for Sweden. He suggested I go ahead and do it without him since he’ll be gone until the summer. I think most people see Scott as the brand, so to me without his prescence it’s not really Slamdek. I will probably approach him again on his return. If we did do something it would be wonderful if you could “visit” for it. I did find your banjo video, someone else has it posted. Most of the comments recognized you from the news story. Keep up the good work!
    Jeff

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