YouTube considered harmful4 min read

This morning, there was a nice surprise waiting for me in my inbox: apparently Dragons Dream infringes “La Red”‘s copyright.

Bullshit. My video does not infringe on anything. It is a pure mashup of Elephants Dream and Sintel. No other music, sounds or visuals were used. Yet, they claim that the visuals belong to La Red (whatever/whoever that is)… Are they also going to flag Sintel as infringing copyright now?
I’m pretty sure I set the “license” for that video to Creative Commons to begin with. In the settings now, it’s been set to the “Standard YouTube license” and I can’t change it back to CC, the combobox for it is deactivated.
Oh, but then you just have to dispute that copyright claim, don’t you? Well, it turns out the system is somewhat rigged against mashups and the Creative Commons. When disputing, you are given these choices:

  • “I own the CD / DVD or bought the song online. I’m not selling the video or making any money from it” — not accepted as a valid dispute by YouTube
  • “I gave credit in the video” — not accepted as a valid dispute by YouTube
  • “The video is my original content and I own all of the rights to it” — not actually true
  • “I have a license or written permission from the proper rights holder to use this material” — if you think hard enough, this almost sounds like the one I’m looking for. But the rights holder certainly ain’t “La Red” and the “reason for dispute” text falsely asserts “This video uses the copyrighted material at issue, but with the appropriate license or written permission from the copyright owner” (emphasis mine). Generally speaking too, situations where “my video was flagged, but I actually have a written permission from the cartel” never really happen anyway. Not in this world. This is an illusive choice.
  • “My use of the content meets the legal requirements for fair use or fair dealing under applicable copyright laws” — that’s not it either: Creative Commons expressedly enables and encourages me to do this, I shouldn’t need to claim “fair use” (which is a super-gray area of copyright anyway)
  • “The content is in the public domain or is not eligible for copyright protection” — not actually true.  In the case of Dragons Dream, the contents were not “public domain”, they were under a Creative Commons copyleft license.

Then you are asked to sign an oath, with your real name, saying you are absolutely sure about the whole thing, that you’ve got all the necessary rights, that you have not made false statements or a fraudulent dispute, etc.
At that point I’m thinking, “Why am I even bothering with this?”
This is not the first time it happens to me. Be it a playthrough of an Ace Combat Zero mission (which I had to take down), my recording of a local choir that a family member is participating in, the Pitivi 0.15 hackfest retrospective, my MMORPG character singing trololo, it keeps happening over and over again. About half (if not all) of the videos I made in the past are allegedly infringing somebody else’s copyright at any given time. It’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of when I’ll receive a notification for one of my videos.
The net effect is that I am now very reluctant to consider YouTube as a creative platform. It’s just way too counterproductive. This is why I’ve been self-hosting the talks I presented (such as this year’s GUADEC), the demos I made, or the films I made with friends (such as this one, which uses music from the public domain or at the very least freely available by the author)…
Whatsmore, YouTube have demonstrated in the past that they are actively hostile to a “read and write” culture and the ideals of a shared/free culture in general, by threatening the Pitivi and Totem projects like so. Those terms haven’t changed since 2010 and I don’t think they ever will.
The YouTube platform holds too much power and influence. We need decentralization, independence and openness. We must encourage initiatives like Mediagoblin, so please consider contributing to that project (also, I’ll happily accept patches that make Pitivi interoperate with it). I think that to replace YouTube on a technical level, Mediagoblin would be missing a good search feature, ratings and play count statistics (integration with Matomo would be a plus).


12 responses to “YouTube considered harmful4 min read

  1. I sympathize, but remember: Youtube doesn’t really owe you anything. You’re not paying Youtube for anything. They give you a very conditional offer to host video you create at no direct cost to you. They’re entirely free to withdraw this offer at any time, given you haven’t signed a contract with them and haven’t paid them a penny. Frankly, if you’re not paying for a service the appropriate level of service to expect is about zero.
    If your stuff is really important to you and you want it to be solidly available, host it yourself or pay for hosting from a reliable provider, with an explicit agreement on how copyright issues will be handled, an agreement you’re happy with. It’s a cliche these days, but with free services like Youtube you’re not the customer, you’re the product. If your product is too much hassle for Youtube’s liking, then they won’t bother with it.

  2. Yep, I realize that. That’s why I’m already not hosting any remotely important stuff on YouTube anymore. That’s why we need Mediagoblin and such.

  3. On a related note, the media goblin people should streamline their website. It takes more than 30 seconds to discover if media goblin is a web app or a local app.

  4. Slightly off-topic, but please be aware that YouTube is now facing a very real possibility to be completely banned in Russia (although not for copyright issues). I think the situation is very similar in other countries – either ban everything that is even remotely similar to a copyrighted work or a film that infringes upon religious feelings, or be banned.
    Although I agree that their list of reasons for the appeal is incomplete.

  5. David Avatar

    YouTube may not owe anything, but by changing the license to the standard YouTube one, and distributing the video under that are they not in breach of copyright law themselves by breaching the CC license?

  6. Hiya Bob,
    I agree about needing to streamline the MediaGoblin frontpage… there’s a redesign in progress but it’s been put on the back burner temporarily while we try to push some bigger initiatives forward. Hopefully we’ll get to it soon!

  7. To be fair – the Youtube/Vimeo/… can legally exists (in US) only because it allows the reporting in such form from media companies (DMCA safe heaven).
    Too bad some companies started gaming the system (they offer to allow you to show the video as long as the advertisement income goes to them).

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Honestly, other than bandwidth and storage, no good reason exists anymore to use third-party video hosting. Just host video yourself, reference it with an HTML5 video tag, and if you feel like playing nice with older browsers, throw in Flowplayer as fallback content.

  9. YT is just somewhere to spam^wdisseminate. Sometimes they remove one’s disseminations.
    Don’t forget and TPB as other dissemination venues. Only wholly unimportant stuff should not be uploaded to is a nice way to think about this. Go MediaGoblin! 🙂

  10. Il nous faudrait des fortunes pour trainer en cours ces multinationales qui essaient de “faire la loi”. Finalement on abandonne comme je l’ai fait pour ma musique mise sur un serveur partagé d’iWeb.

  11. Très interessant, je ne connaissais pas MediaGoblin
    Son leader est hyper jeune on dirait sur cette excellent vidéo [1], non ?
    [1] (c’est sur YouTube, désolé 😉

  12. By the way, for those hoping for an alternative in MediaGoblin, now is the time to help! We’ve launched a fundraising campaign with the FSF to push forward MediaGoblin development and could really use your support: