YouTube Takes Down Music Video For 'Terms Of Service' Violation; Refuses To Explain Or Put Back
from the not-this-again dept
Art Neill, from the very cool non-profit group New Media Rights (which provides legal services/advocacy for internet users and creators), alerts us to an unfortunate story involving YouTube pulling down a band’s video, claiming terms of service violations, but refusing to explain much more. We’ve discussed multiple times before that one of Google’s Achilles Heels for competitors is its big white monolith problem, in which if you have a problem with Google, reaching an actual human being in customer service is nearly impossible. That seems to be the case with this story.
It involves a comedy group / rock band called Fortress of Attitude. A few months back, they released a video on YouTube for a song they wrote, called PS Gay Car, in response to a homophobic note that someone left on a band member’s cars a few years ago. They basically took the note and turned it into the lyrics for a song, mocking the homophobic message. The video got lots of attention, including high traffic places like the Huffington Post and College Humor. The video on YouTube racked up nearly 40,000 views.
And then it was gone. You can still see it on Funny or Die, but YouTube removed it entirely, claiming a terms of service violation.
The folks at Fortress of Attitude insist they did nothing of the sort:
So, note up front: we 100% did not engage in any activity of that sort. First of all, our group policy is that robots are scary and will someday enslave us all, and therefore we do not engage in any activities involving robots—especially activities such as artificially inflating Youtube views.
Secondly it is very clear why the video had gotten its views. Popular websites posted the video, thereby putting it in front of their readerships, and it was spread around. As a group we did nothing more than email the link out to our mailing list, post it on our Facebook pages, and send it to these media outlets. Trying to create artificial views for our work is not something we would do, and it also seems like WAY too much work.
After finding no easy way to actually respond to the claimed violation, nor any way to directly contact anyone at YouTube, they went to New Media Rights who has been trying, repeatedly to contact folks at YouTube, without much luck. The emailed responses don’t address any of the points raised by NMR, but rather just appear to be robotic-like responses insisting that the account was found to violate that term and saying that “due to the reasons previously stated, we will not be restoring the content.” No matter how many times NMR points out that “the reasons previously stated” are not accurate, they can’t seem to get anyone from YouTube to actually communicate as a human about what the problem is.
The band is especially worried since it has a bunch of videos on YouTube and the note from Google threatens to kill their entire account if similar “violations” occur.
To some extent, you can understand why Google does this. I’m sure that there are plenty of people trying to game the system and boost pageviews. And, I’m sure that plenty of them insist that they’re innocent. Having full time people responding to a bunch of those folks would probably be a huge waste of time. But what happens when you have a situation where the flag and takedown happened in error?