Takedown Update Rundown

About a month ago my YouTube account was suspended. In brief, Dashgo/Audiobee filed a copyright violation claim against my YouTube account, causing it to be shut down and all my media and links were removed. You can read about the initial experience here: I Command Thee, Fellow!

Last week YouTube made the decision to restore the account.

Many of the amateur and even some professional internet publishers kind of lose their cool when they have their free or paid accounts that host or share media shut down. The most famous recent example being the now-defunct scans_daily forum. A lot of members and visitors went utterly bananas when scans_daily was closed by LiveJournal for Terms Of Use violations. FYI: Posting entire issues of newly published comics and graphic novels does not constitute a review in any context, fellers. That a relative few ruined an experience that many enjoyed is regretable but understandable.

Which brings me to comment on my situation regarding the claim that closed my media account.

Instead of anger, unhinged rants and casting aspersions of the gender-preferences of the various entities involved with the suspension of my account I opened a rational dialog with DashGo/Audiobee and YouTube. As YouTube recommended I filed a counter-notification to the claim. I also contacted DashGo/Audiobee. I defended the posting of the video as part of a review under fair use. The response was concern that the video was not viewable solely within the referring blog post which would further qualify it under fair use. The problem was that the clip could simply be searched for, viewed and even downloaded via YouTube bereft of any context.

So basically my use of the video on the blog was considered fair use but the manner in which it was posted to YouTube wasn’t. Utilizing and perceiving YouTube only as a hosting site while ignoring that others will not use it in the same manner as I would created the conflict. That copyright holders feel the need to protect their property in that case is perfectly valid, hard to argue against though still remaining to me at least somewhat arbitrary. They have to draw a line somewhere and don’t have the time or resources to review every clip and decide if it is diluting the value of the property or not. In the future there probably will be a way to determine that but right now the usual models fall short.

As of yet YouTube doesn’t appear to have a setting to allow clips to be stored on their site and viewed only on another and that is another decision that seems wise on the part of the provider. Advertising, click-throughs and other revenue-generating internet thingies are all on their site and they don’t want to become become some anonymous media host that fails and goes bankrupt because they are directing traffic away from their own site without compensation.

Whatever processes on the parts of DashGo/Audiobee and YouTube took place worked in my favor this time and my account was restored complete with the H.R. Pufnstuf video clip. Out of respect for DashGo/Audiobee I have disabled the clip for now and will try to have it hosted elsewhere and then provide a link to it, preferably one that leads the reader to an authorized outlet like the Krofft MySpace page. I don’t know if they would be comfortable hosting it as one of their mini-clips as the site seems to be a pretty shiny happy place and the Matango-like theme of the Pufnstuf clip is dark, scary and somewhat out of place alongside Captain Kool and Magic Mongo.

I Command Thee, Fellow!

About a week ago my YouTube account was ‘permanently disabled’ due to a complaint of copyright infringement by DashGo/Audiobee, a company engaged by Krofft Entertainment to market their product to and protect from websites and social networks.

Don’t get me wrong. I come down on the side of the creator when it comes to copyright infringement and theft. Back in the early 90s I supplemented my income through creative works and it irked me no end to not get paid for what I did. I got ripped off by creeps and grifters enough that I could see the big picture even then. I don’t really disagree with what the various industry organizations do to pursue the bad guys but the perception is they pounce on goofy kids and old people who don’t quite grasp computer technology. They rarely seem to be publicly successful with going after the people burning hundreds of DVDs and CDs and selling them out of the trunks of their cars in parking lots or from underground websites that charge for access or downloads without renumeration to the creators.

Prior to the account being disabled YouTube sent me a message letting me know that a short clip I had used of a particularly nightmarish episode of H.R. Pufnstuf (here) had been removed due to a notice filed by DashGo/Audiobee. The next day I discovered my account was disabled due to the most recent complaint. Apparently, this was the third violation of my Terms of Service agreement. The first was when I posted a ‘Sleestaks in the Library‘ clip, the second a comparison of MASH and Stargate. I didn’t protest the the first complaint though I thought it silly as there were hundreds if not thousands of the Sleestak clips yet available that remained all over video sites that are still there to this day.

For the second complaint I filed a counter-notification as I considered the short clip comparing similarities between an episode of MASH and Stargate: Atlantis fair-use and for the purposes of critique and review. I never heard back and didn’t care enough at the time to pursue the matter. Not hearing back from mega-companies is not all that unusual. Years ago I was once the recipient of a DMCA notice about some art that I had personally created and posted at a forum. After the warning I let them know I was the creator and owner of the image but I never heard back from the company that sent me the notice. I figured ignoring the little guy was business as usual and expected I would continue to be ignored and the matter dropped or my account would be deleted in error, which I would then protest or make the decision to go elsewhere.

I have read horror stories concerning the relationship between YouTube customer service and users who have had their accounts disabled and so far my experience has been a positive one. After my account was disabled I filed a counter-notice to the DashGo/Audiobee claim under Fair Use. YouTube responded quickly to my emails, explained what was going on and how to restore my account. They have not stopped me from creating a new account. They also let me know that they can’t find any counter-notices filed by me, but I wasn’t really surprised at that. Those who enforce copyrights very likely ignore hundreds of counter-notices a day and it isn’t the responsibility of YouTube to follow up on them. If I don’t hear back in a few days I’ll file again.

While I received regular communications from YouTube (if not resolution to my favor) DashGo/Audiobee is a different story. I have contacted them via email, their blog and via the counter-notification and they have yet to respond, which isn’t saying they are not going to. Then again it is their prerogative if they respond at all. They feel they did their job, which is taking down infringing material from the web and protected their client’s interests. Reversing their decision may set a bad precedent and their goal is to market to the web and social networking sites, which presumably means via revenue and not handing out stuff for free.

Now where I differ with what DashGo/Audiobee is doing in my case is that once again, not only is the idea of fair use not being considered but they have gone after a fan, not a pirate who is damaging their bottom line. It is hardly a secret that I am a fan of the Krofft characters, particularly The Land of the Lost. My entire online persona is based on one of the characters and anything I post about them is out of appreciation. It is just ridiculous to me that DashGo/Audiobee had my short clip removed from YouTube when entire episodes of shows remain online and unchallenged for years at various video streaming sites. Seems a bit random.

Furthermore, as with the MASH/Stargate: Atlantis video, the Pufnstuf clip was adapted from media I personally own and not ganked from other sources. I feel like I am being punished for saying something is awesome.

So what does this mean?

The actions of DashGo/Audiobee, however well-intentioned on the part of their business and their client, has for me sucked the enjoyment out of anything Krofft-related. Not that putting up something Krofft-centric was a daily event but I posted when the mood and muse rapped me upside the head. So it may be a while before I post anything about their characters or shows. DashGo/Audiobee has less protected intellectual property than successfully discouraged another fan from giving a damn about something.

This is a strategy which I doubt would be successful in a business but seems common among such firms that it makes one wonder if alienation of a demographic generates such a steady revenue stream that it is an important part of any business model. Let’s face it, the value of the Krofft stable of characters has been decimated, possibly irreparably or for at least another ten years, by that horrible 2009 Land of the Lost movie. The Krofft franchise needs all the positive fan promotion they can get and they just discouraged one amateur media outlet that gave them regular free exposure.

So what have I learned?

Maintaining several media hosting accounts is a good idea. Keep the personal videos and photos you want to share with friends and grandma separate from those you use in a “professional” manner.

I kept my blogging-related and personal videos hosted in one place because I never believed someone would really have a problem with posting a short clip giving what amounts to free advertising. If I received notice that they did, civil discourse would work everything out in the end. I have most of my videos archived and I could easily replace them via other sources if I felt like taking the time but a few personal ones are gone for good. They will only be recoverable unless YouTube restores the account and that can only happen if DashGo/Audiobee agrees with my assertions of fair use and allows them do it.

Updates to follow, I am sure.