Pay­ing the price for break­ing YouTube rules

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - MEDIA& MARKETING - RHODRI MARS­DEN

ANY­ONE whose par­tic­i­pa­tion in the YouTube com­mu­nity goes be­yond star­ing at videos of cats walk­ing up and down pi­ano keys will be aware of the mes­sage that greets you when you up­load a clip to the site.

“Do not up­load TV shows, mu­sic videos or com­mer­cials without per­mis­sion,” it says, “un­less they con­sist en­tirely of con­tent that you cre­ated your­self.”

This warn­ing, how­ever, seems to be taken by most peo­ple as ca­sual ad­vice along the lines of “I wouldn’t go out without an um­brella if I were you”. Af­ter all, the site is awash with con­cert footage, sport­ing mo­ments and com­edy clips, most of which have been put there by the pub­lic in di­rect con­tra­ven­tion of the rules. In fact, it’s partly this whole­sale dis­obe­di­ence that has made YouTube so pop­u­lar.

Which might sug­gest there are no con­se­quences for up­load­ing copy­righted ma­te­rial, so we may as well em­bark on a frenzy of video shar­ing. But your shame­faced tech­nol­ogy cor­re­spon­dent had his en­tire YouTube ac­count closed down last week; most of my up­loads were per­sonal videos, but on three oc­ca­sions I’d put up TV clips I wanted to draw peo­ple’s at­ten­tion to on var­i­ous blogs. And when YouTube were alerted to the third in­fringe­ment – a clip of a band signed to Sony BMG giv­ing a hi­lar­i­ously naive in­ter­view on Chan­nel 4 – I fell foul of their three-strikes-and-you’re- out pol­icy. Now, links to all my videos are met with a mes­sage: “This video has been re­moved due to terms of use vi­o­la­tion.”

I won’t bother try­ing to elicit sym­pa­thy – af­ter all, I broke the rules. If I’d had a case to ar­gue I could have served a coun­ter­notice and pos­si­bly got my video and in­deed my ac­count back. But it did make me won­der about about the count­less YouTube videos that in­fringe copy­right, but nev­er­the­less stay on­line.

They fall into three cat­e­gories: ei­ther the copy­right holder doesn’t know it’s there (though more of them are be­ing no­ti­fied im­me­di­ately th­ese days by join­ing YouTube’s Con­tent ID sys­tem) or they sim­ply don’t care, or, as is in­creas­ingly com­mon, they choose to leave it on­line while re­ceiv­ing a cut of pro­ceeds from ad­ver­tis­ing. But, as I found the hard way, you can never guar­an­tee the benev­o­lence of copy­right hold­ers. So if you are go­ing to take your chances and you value the videos you’ve up­loaded over the years, at least make sure you have them backed up. Just like I didn’t.

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