YouTube's Three Strikes Rule Hits Again; Dance Company Has Over 300 Videos Taken Down

from the harm-done? dept

One of my big complaints with Google's YouTube is how it handles content takedowns based on copyright claims. If you get a DMCA notice, it can count as a "strike" against you, and when you hit three strikes, your entire account can be suspended. In an era where accidental infringement can occur pretty easily, those who use the site a lot may come up against those limitations pretty quickly. YouTube recently revamped its "strikeout" policy for community guidelines violations, but left the copyright strikeouts intact.

There are multiple problems with this policy, starting with the fact that false DMCA complaints can count against users. We were recently pointed to a series of videos about a user on YouTube who is supposedly filing bogus DMCA notices on others' videos, and that's resulting in accounts being shut down. In a forum thread, the guy filing the bogus DMCA claims says that YouTube has hired him to seek out "useless" videos and get them removed. That's obviously not true at all, but the fact that someone so blatantly making stuff up was able to get away with filing bogus DMCA notices that got accounts suspended seems more than a bit troubling. Even if YouTube's policy is to say "file a counternotice," it appears that policy isn't really working so well.

Separate from that is the more common situation of those putting up videos where they think that what they're doing is legal. And here, there is great confusion also. We recently had a bit of a debate in our comments with a regular commenter on the site who insists that YouTube has said it's okay to upload videos without permission from copyright holders. In the ensuing comment thread, I pointed out that this simply isn't true, but the the commenter continued to insist that the only reason YouTube would have a ContentID system is if it's telling users they don't need permission. This is blatantly wrong, but the fact that even after it was explained to the commenter, she continued to believe it, shows how difficult it is to get otherwise knowledgeable people to understand that YouTube can and will cut people off and shut down their entire account, with little to no recourse, if they receive multiple DMCA notices (note: this is separate from Content ID matches, which don't count as strikes).

The latest example of this comes via Michael Geist who points us to the news of a Canadian dance company losing all 300 videos it had posted of its dance company choreography and classes and such, because it got hit with a third DMCA strike. As the guy notes, it's okay to use whatever music they want in the classrooms (I'm assuming they pay the basic licenses for that), but the second the videos go online, they risk takedown notices. Of course, with this three strikes policy, it means that even if 297 of the videos were perfectly fine, and the musicians were thrilled that the dance company used them and were online, it doesn't matter. They're gone from YouTube.

This seems unfortunate. Obviously, YouTube can set whatever policies it wants, but the three strikes policy on such notices, and then the removal of an entire account just seems to go too far in an age when unintentional copyright infringement happens all the time, and DMCA notices are sent without much thought.

Filed Under: dmca, takedowns, youtube
Companies: google

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  1. icon
    Karl (profile), 15 Jul 2010 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re:

    Which is exactly where it should be.

    Exactly. There is no "DMCA grey zone," it's black-and-white. The burden of proving infringement falls exclusively on the rights holders, and always has. Full stop. End of story.

    Google must really like rights holders. They spent unnecessary time and resources to create the ContentID system, which the rights holders get for free.

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