Monday, September 14, 2009

I Command Thee, Fellow!

About a week ago my YouTube account was 'permanently disabled' due to a complaint of copyright infringement by DashGo/Audiobee, a company engaged by Krofft Entertainment to market their product to and protect from websites and social networks.

Don't get me wrong. I come down on the side of the creator when it comes to copyright infringement and theft. Back in the early 90s I supplemented my income through creative works and it irked me no end to not get paid for what I did. I got ripped off by creeps and grifters enough that I could see the big picture even then. I don't really disagree with what the various industry organizations do to pursue the bad guys but the perception is they pounce on goofy kids and old people who don't quite grasp computer technology. They rarely seem to be publicly successful with going after the people burning hundreds of DVDs and CDs and selling them out of the trunks of their cars in parking lots or from underground websites that charge for access or downloads without renumeration to the creators.

Prior to the account being disabled YouTube sent me a message letting me know that a short clip I had used of a particularly nightmarish episode of H.R. Pufnstuf (here) had been removed due to a notice filed by DashGo/Audiobee. The next day I discovered my account was disabled due to the most recent complaint. Apparently, this was the third violation of my Terms of Service agreement. The first was when I posted a 'Sleestaks in the Library' clip, the second a comparison of MASH and Stargate. I didn't protest the the first complaint though I thought it silly as there were hundreds if not thousands of the Sleestak clips yet available that remained all over video sites that are still there to this day.

For the second complaint I filed a counter-notification as I considered the short clip comparing similarities between an episode of MASH and Stargate: Atlantis fair-use and for the purposes of critique and review. I never heard back and didn't care enough at the time to pursue the matter. Not hearing back from mega-companies is not all that unusual. Years ago I was once the recipient of a DMCA notice about some art that I had personally created and posted at a forum. After the warning I let them know I was the creator and owner of the image but I never heard back from the company that sent me the notice. I figured ignoring the little guy was business as usual and expected I would continue to be ignored and the matter dropped or my account would be deleted in error, which I would then protest or make the decision to go elsewhere.

I have read horror stories concerning the relationship between YouTube customer service and users who have had their accounts disabled and so far my experience has been a positive one. After my account was disabled I filed a counter-notice to the DashGo/Audiobee claim under Fair Use. YouTube responded quickly to my emails, explained what was going on and how to restore my account. They have not stopped me from creating a new account. They also let me know that they can't find any counter-notices filed by me, but I wasn't really surprised at that. Those who enforce copyrights very likely ignore hundreds of counter-notices a day and it isn't the responsibility of YouTube to follow up on them. If I don't hear back in a few days I'll file again.

While I received regular communications from YouTube (if not resolution to my favor) DashGo/Audiobee is a different story. I have contacted them via email, their blog and via the counter-notification and they have yet to respond, which isn't saying they are not going to. Then again it is their prerogative if they respond at all. They feel they did their job, which is taking down infringing material from the web and protected their client's interests. Reversing their decision may set a bad precedent and their goal is to market to the web and social networking sites, which presumably means via revenue and not handing out stuff for free.

Now where I differ with what DashGo/Audiobee is doing in my case is that once again, not only is the idea of fair use not being considered but they have gone after a fan, not a pirate who is damaging their bottom line. It is hardly a secret that I am a fan of the Krofft characters, particularly The Land of the Lost. My entire online persona is based on one of the characters and anything I post about them is out of appreciation. It is just ridiculous to me that DashGo/Audiobee had my short clip removed from YouTube when entire episodes of shows remain online and unchallenged for years at various video streaming sites. Seems a bit random.

Furthermore, as with the MASH/Stargate: Atlantis video, the Pufnstuf clip was adapted from media I personally own and not ganked from other sources. I feel like I am being punished for saying something is awesome.

So what does this mean?

The actions of DashGo/Audiobee, however well-intentioned on the part of their business and their client, has for me sucked the enjoyment out of anything Krofft-related. Not that putting up something Krofft-centric was a daily event but I posted when the mood and muse rapped me upside the head. So it may be a while before I post anything about their characters or shows. DashGo/Audiobee has less protected intellectual property than successfully discouraged another fan from giving a damn about something.

This is a strategy which I doubt would be successful in a business but seems common among such firms that it makes one wonder if alienation of a demographic generates such a steady revenue stream that it is an important part of any business model. Let's face it, the value of the Krofft stable of characters has been decimated, possibly irreparably or for at least another ten years, by that horrible 2009 Land of the Lost movie. The Krofft franchise needs all the positive fan promotion they can get and they just discouraged one amateur media outlet that gave them regular free exposure.

So what have I learned?

Maintaining several media hosting accounts is a good idea. Keep the personal videos and photos you want to share with friends and grandma separate from those you use in a "professional" manner.

I kept my blogging-related and personal videos hosted in one place because I never believed someone would really have a problem with posting a short clip giving what amounts to free advertising. If I received notice that they did, civil discourse would work everything out in the end. I have most of my videos archived and I could easily replace them via other sources if I felt like taking the time but a few personal ones are gone for good. They will only be recoverable unless YouTube restores the account and that can only happen if DashGo/Audiobee agrees with my assertions of fair use and allows them do it.

Updates to follow, I am sure.

17 comments:

  1. Well said Sleestak!

    Great post on the subject.

    (found a few typos

    They feel did their job

    discouraged another fan from giving damn about something.
    )

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  2. Thanks. I hate typos.

    Also, YouTube contacted me again and had me submit a counter-notice.

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  3. "This is a strategy which I doubt would be successful in a business but seems common among enough among such firms and Republicans that it makes one wonder..." ??

    Makes me wonder just exactly what the connection is here.

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  4. A joke about attacking or despising the very people that support you. Don't get your mullet in a bunch.

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  5. Oh, and someone ignoring the main issue I'm writing about and zeroing in on a throwaway gag about the GOP eating their own?
    Called it!

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  6. I had a video yanked, too. I now give no info about the video in the title or tags, so that it can't be searched. I also have two accounts. :o(

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  7. One thing I learned about the tags feature is not to put 'entertainment' or 'tv' or 'movie' but in cases where a tag is mandatory I put 'education'. they don't seem to search or target in on that.

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  8. Actually, I'd put that down as someone giving you a signal that you can undermine your main point by letting your gears slip at the last moment.

    It might, on reflection, become obvious to you that, in such a long and detailed post, that someone was reading it with interest and attention until it plunged off the rails with one distracting remark in which one item does not equal the next item.

    A cardinal rule of writing a long post with a lot of background is to stay ruthlessly on topic.

    You might want to remember that in the future.

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  9. Good point. Good enough that I'll consider taking that part out.

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  10. Well, you can always use it as a starting point for another post. Might make for a good one.

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  11. Oh, poor Republicans- their feelings are hurt so easily, delicate flowers that they are. God they're pushy as hell at censoring people and acting offended. And then Gerard lectures you about how to write your posts- :you might want to remember that in the future".

    Because Gerard will complain again? How about letting the author write what he feels on his own blog? Bunch of bedwetters, god.

    Oh, where were we? Another Republican hijacking a thread to make it about themselves and how offended they are. Anyway I'm sorry that YouTube and the jerks censored you, and I'm sorry in a thread on your own blog you also have someone lecturing you about what you can't say. Land of the free, hey? Best to you man.

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  12. Sure, but from a writing standpoint I can't argue much with that. It does read better without the gag.

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  13. The only problem here is that I'm not a Republican as you so blithely assume. Indeed, I have more than a few problems with that particular party. As I do with the Democrats.

    Nor am I "censoring" anybody. How could I? This is a comment stream, not the post itself. Nor do I have any power of Sleestak.

    If you read carefully I am merely pointing out that going off topic in writing can be distracting.

    You could write it as "This is a strategy which I doubt would be successful in a business but seems common among enough among such firms and Penguins that it makes one wonder..." and see a bit more clearly why it distracts.

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  14. No, you're not censoring, but you're bossily telling Sleestak how he should run his railroad.

    I blithely assume nothing about a bossy entity typing on the Internet, but since you did overwrite a miffed complaint about the word "Republican" being uttered, forgive me if I say thou dost protest too much.

    "Merely pointing out" how a blogger should write, or feel or express, is awfully rude. Is it an Asperger's thing that you can't see that? Start your own blog, I enjoy reading Sleestak, don't know why he needs your advice.

    But I do see your point Sleestak, it's a distraction from your topic, clearly. Best to you.

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  15. I eventually took Gerard's comment as an editorial comment.

    Also, the account might be restored. Entered a dialog with Dashgo. I think we both have valid points about content. I'll update when I get more info.

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  16. I recently had a book I had for sale on Amazon removed from selling because, their automated email told me, "advance reading copies ("ARCs") are not allowed to be sold at Amazon Marketplace."

    I checked my original listing. It was "Brand-new never read store-bought hardcover book. Not an advance reading copy or remainder."

    Meanwhile, three other sales listings from other sellers, for ARCs of the same book surrounded where my listing had been.

    I'm making my guess that when the dystopian police come to take us away, the charges will be based upon their computerized but complete misinterpretation of our words.

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  17. Again I am dismayed at how arbitrary it all seems.

    You'd think software that can identify even mis-named clips as belonging to a certain property would be able to determine or suggest the difference between a short video or an entire episode or film. Zauis had the best idea of not labeling or tagging anything so the crawlers have a harder time finding anything and I have since placed 'education' as labels for anything that requires it.

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