from the youtube-doesn't-apologize-to-infringers,-you-whingeing-buffoons dept
Every so often you come across a conclusion so badly drawn it makes you wonder how the person got from point A to… well, not exactly point B but somewhere well past point B, off in an ethereal realm inhabited by the denizens of overly-complicated word problems and their constantly variable forms of transportation. (“If a premise leaves the train station [Point A] at 10AM riding a bicycle at 3 mph for the first hour and increasing speed by .25 mph every hour for the first four hours before decelerating at a rate inversely proportionate to the incline of the grade [17%], at what time will the bicyclist’s speed be exactly 1/4 the average flight speed of the Africanized honey bee? Show your work.)
On even rarer occasions, you’ll find this counterintuitive “conclusion” not only applauded for its immaculate “logic,” but expounded upon as though it were the genesis of a world-breaking thesis. The obliqueness (and obtuseness) begins with a simple bit of rhetorical questioning by Larry Crane of Tape Op Magazine: “Why does Youtube apologize to people who have illegally uploaded my content?”
I politely asked Youtube to remove a song by my old band that someone had posted without permission. They took it down but then apologized “sorry about that” and ran my business name as if “blaming me” for removing content. Really? Wow. Pretty damn impartial, huh?
Before we get to the title question, let’s deal with the rest of the post. You asked YouTube to remove a song and they complied. What’s the problem again? Oh, right. They apologized. Hmm.
They also had the temerity to name the business that requested the takedown. What did you expect them to do? Just simply write “This video is no longer available” and be done with it? Of course they named who did it. Do you know why? It’s not to “blame” you, which, as the party responsible for the takedown, the “blame” is wholly yours. No, it’s to inform viewers and uploaders and other interested parties that this video was taken down to comply with a takedown request, which is something YouTube needs to do to retain its DMCA safe harbors.
The other reason the takedown party is listed is because, sometimes, in rare cases, the takedown isn’t legit. Sometimes it’s just a clerical error. Or maliciousness. Or a faulty algorithm. This way interested parties can contact the party listed if they feel the takedown is in error. Again, this is a rare occurrence, one that has only happened a handful of times. Like here, for example. And here. And here. And here. Oh, there's also this one. And this other time. Another rarity. Once-in-a-lifetime experience. Well below the expected margin of error. Nothing to see here either. Anomaly. Freak accident. Outlier. In short, it’s a handy way to tell at a glance who took the video down and decide whether or not the takedown might be in error.
But, back to the big question: Why does YouTube apologize to the infringing uploader? Good question. But you’ll never get an answer because that apology isn’t for them. It’s not for you, either. It’s for the viewer who clicked play and got a dry slab of info rather than the tune/video he or she was expecting. YouTube doesn’t apologize to infringing uploaders. They send notices to their account inboxes and email addresses informing them that a video is being removed by request of the rights holders and gently reminding them that if they don’t knock this shit off, their account could be deleted.
I’m really not sure how anyone could read that screen and decide that YouTube is oh-so-sorry for being forced to end the uploader’s infringement party because of a few rights-holding killjoys. This apology is for fans and potential fans — the viewers who came here expecting to be entertained and instead got a face full of “NOTHING TO SEE HERE.”
Let me ask you a question, Larry. What wording would you use? “YouTube is robbing this artist no longer. Praise Jeebus.” “Sorry about all of our infringement, but we’re really just a pirate site in corporate clothing.” “Enjoy the silence.” “'Enjoy the Silence has been removed due to a copyright claim by Warner Bros. Records.”
This [waves black and white avatarial arms in the general direction of above] is ridiculous enough. It’s just Google-hating in search of a point. But then, someone else decides “ridiculous enough” isn’t ridiculous enough. Chris Castle adds some invaluable commentary:
Larry Crane of Tape OP Magazine highlights what must seem like a curious practice by YouTube. First thing–it’s Google, so understand that they don’t care at all what artists think. Having said that, it will not be surprising to know that YouTube has long employed a tactic that can be thought of as Chilling Effects Lite. acting out of enthusiasm for the artist’s music.
Google hate? Check. Moving on.
YouTube leverages the fact that most YouTube videos are embedded in a variety of places, including the artist’s own home page.
Why would an artist embed an infringing video on their own site, especially if they’re considering sending a takedown notice? Do they just want their media page to have a sort of “going out of business look?”
This distribution was accomplished by the efforts of the artist or the artist’s manager, or the artist’s record company or by fans of the artist.
So: if the person who uploaded the infringing video is a fan, you’ll reinstate the video? Because the funny thing about uploaders, they don’t tend to upload stuff they hate. They’re usually fans and they upload songs that aren’t on Youtube yet, not to violate copyright laws, but to share music they like. In this example, Chris lists fans as victims of Google’s evil “name-and-shame” policy which leaves dead-end embedded videos littering their site but simultaneously wants to chastise fans for uploading the videos without permission, possibly to place on their fan sites. Which is it? Fans = victims? Or fans = infringers who don’t deserve the apologies they’re not actually getting?
Now, I really didn’t want to include this much text, but I’m afraid that if I edited it in any way, I’d be accused of cherry-picking in order to obscure Castle’s point. So, here’s the whole thing and I welcome you to figure out the point on your own.
When YouTube gets a take down notice that actually results in YouTube removing the video–usually because the poster hasn’t filed a counternotice (which in YouTube’s case can be essentially anything from the poster indicating a pulse)–YouTube isn’t satisfied to just remove the video. (This would cause the video to go dark everywhere it's embedded. Instead, YouTube takes it upon itself to post a notice to the World of Free that campitalizes on the efforts made by the artist and those working with the artist (including fans) to use those efforts to YouTube's benefit. How? YouTube uses the same embed codes to post a notice that YouTube had to actually comply with the law. If that notice comes from an artist’s record company or the music publisher of the recorded song, then everyone who has the video embedded suddenly has a messge “apologizing” due to the fact that YouTube controls what replaces the embeded video that was removed. That “apology” is then flashed across the Internet including the band’s own webpage if they have embedded any YouTube videos. YouTube then feeds that “story” to the Google press who dutifully report on the incident as manufactured news.
The gist of it, if it even contains a “gist,” seems to be that YouTube complies with the law in a way that is most advantageous to it, PR-wise. That’s what I’m picking up and I had to cross out nearly every other word to do it. The specifics, all strung together, add up to nothing at all, other than a whole lot of words being wasted in order to state: “I greatly dislike Google and its subsidiaries.”
“The video goes dark at every location it’s embedded” because… it’s embedded. Castle even states as much. But somehow, this devious code trickery adds up to something evil. And why is it evil? Because sometimes these videos are embedded at the artists’ own sites. And when the artist (or their representation) issues a takedown, it causes videos on the artists’ sites to go dark. Leading us back to one of our original questions: what the hell is this hypothetical band (let’s call them “The Victims”) doing embedding videos if it’s just going issue a takedown anyway? It’s like some bizarre copyright-infected murder-suicide, only with the murderer pointing the gun at his own head first.
And as for all the other verbiage about Google feeding the press reports about nefarious takedowns by evil labels, etc. etc. etc.? You know who usually alerts bloggers and musos and “the press” about overreaching or ill-advised takedowns? The fans. The same fans who are “victimized” by YouTube’s takedown policy and the same fans who are being denied an apology by your insistence on playing the victim after YouTube did EXACTLY WHAT YOU ASKED THEM TO and COMPLIED WITH THE LAW.
Larry, Chris: You two deserve each other. Even when YouTube does everything right, it’s still somehow a screw job.
Filed Under: apologies, copyright, dmca, takedowns