Jimmy Carr killed my YouTube account

I love YouTube. I know it’s full of rubbish, but the content that is great makes up for that. I look at movie trailers, video bloggers, and music videos there every day.

But I also use it for business. 
It is an amazing tool that functions as a video repository, allowing me to record a conversation with someone and then share that with the world. I get to meet a lot of interesting people and I often try to capture their thoughts, and I do it sometimes in a studio environment, but more often than not it’s without extra lighting or sound-proofing, and just shot on my mobile phone. It’s the content that counts.
But what happens if all your content on a site like Youtube suddenly vanishes? It’s the classic problem of storing photos, video, presentation, documents, all in the cloud and not on your local machine. What if the site is not available, or deletes your material?
That’s happened to me this week. I have over 900 videos on Youtube and my account was deleted on Monday. No word from Youtube about why it happened. Fortunately there was a link to some of my recent videos on my Facebook wall. I clicked through and found that my account was suspended because of a terms of use violation.
I dug further and found that because I had shot a short film of the audience at a show by comedian Jimmy Carr last Saturday night and his management objected to it, I lost all my content. The video was of the audience waiting to see Jimmy, before the show. Not him telling jokes, and not featuring the artist in the video at all.
How could this happen? How could an unproven copyright violation claim result in me losing over 900 videos?
I chased Youtube, and found that they believed I am a repeat offender. You can see why on my personal blog here, but the short answer is that in five years of using the website there has only ever been one occasion where copyright was called into question. That means copyright was questioned on about 0.1% of my videos.
So do I fit the profile of a copyright thief then?
Google’s press office sent me a statement:
“Under the DMCA, the relevant law, service providers like YouTube are required to adopt and implement a policy to terminate the accounts of repeat copyright infringers.  YouTube implements its repeat infringer policy in a way that has become the industry standard, and the courts have confirmed that other companies with similar policies adequately implement this legal requirement.
“Of course, we do everything we can to help our users avoid being in the position of being accused of repeat infringement and losing their accounts.  We have clear copyright warnings when people sign up for accounts and when they upload videos; we have a copyright tips section in the Help Centre; we make it easy to file counter-notices if users feel they’ve been falsely accused; and we provide clear notice to our users when a video taken down for infringement that we will close down their account if they continue to post infringing content.  Also, we make it easy for rights holders to use our Content ID system so that their matched content can be monetised instead of taken down under the DMCA removal process if they so choose.”

I have now issued counter-claims against Chambers Management and one other terms of use violation claim from 2008. The people running social media for Jimmy Carr have been pretty good about the whole situation – offering to accept my counter-claim if that is what will get my videos back online again.
But why does it need to be like this Google? I’m clearly not a pirate – how about looking at some of the content before deleting an entire account that took many years of effort to create. 
One of Jimmy Carr’s team told me that they see people uploading entire DVDs of his comedy routines to Youtube. A complaint is filed, the video is removed, the user just does the same thing with the same DVD all over again… How come those people get to keep their account and I end up spending a week battling to just be heard inside Google?
I’m waiting to see if I get my account back. I just had a phone call from a client asking why they can’t see the video of my conversation with their CEO. I don’t keep copies of this stuff. Youtube is my backup and delivery vehicle. I might have to entirely question my reliance on the online community to care for my content in future.

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Mark it's a very difficult situation. Setting aside the nature of the disputed content, for a moment, there are a couple of observations that might be drawn as lessons for others: Firstly, the YouTube "Three Strikes" policy seems to have been invoked without a prior warning, unless you were given advance notice of risk following the second (CSS) incident? Secondly, committing clearly valuable content (your own business video creations) to a non-contractual provider in the cloud, without backup provision, is a clear risk - albeit a risk that many of us routinely ignore, either wittingly or unwittingly. You have my commiserations for your predicament and I do hope that you reach a settlement with Google/ YouTube, even if they re-instate you on a "final warning" basis. Good luck.