Today it occurred to me that I’m probably gonna lose my YouTube account very soon. Like a lot of folks on YouTube, I upload silly videos I’ve made, clips I’ve ripped from DVDs to talk about films I like, random trailers, clips of video games, my kids dancing, etc. I started using it because the embed feature made the hassle of uploading and embedding your videos on your own server seemingly redundant—-it’s all done through YouTube. Which is great until, well, it’s not.
I’ve been on YouTube since 2006. I’ve uploaded more that 240 videos; I’ve also had almost 2 million views on those videos. What’s more, I’ve probably had around 50 copyright complaints, and they have been coming fast and furious as of late. There must be some crackdown in the office of YouTube, I imagine it like Joe Spinelli telling Stallone off in Night Hawks.
Wouldn’t you love if that’s how executives at YouTube talked about shutting down our ability to share and interact with our own culture? I feel like a criminal for quoting works I love. I feel like a criminal for wanting to further imagine through the offspring of our moment. Worst of all, I have to feel like a criminal when I am having fun. It’s becoming a much more serious crime, and I’m scared about that prospect. Not so much that they’ll sue me, but more that they have already occupied my mind trying to convince me that sharing online is evil. To convince me that a video sharing site owned by an advertising company that promises to “do no evil” has become the de facto mediary between millions of people and what seems a basic human right to re-use, remix, and re-imagine the media we inhabit. The implications of what the culture we have watched, supported, and even become fanatic about is making upon us is become increasingly difficult for us to understand more richly under such a model. Since the addition of YouTube six years ago Google has become a copyright constable for the entertainment industry—and a bad one at that. As much as I’ve enjoyed YouTube for years, it’s hard to give them a pass on the way they are policing everyone and I think it is high time for me to starting deriving a backup plan. I think I’ll eventually let them delete my account, but in the meantime I’ll be making a number of videos private until I have everything backed up (anyone have YouTube exit strategy tips?).
Ultimately, the straw that broke the camel’s back on this one came today when I went on a mad strike and disputed almost every claim I had claiming educational fair use. Seems a large number of my older video uploads to YouTube had been claimed recently, which could mean anything from a commercial, an ad, or even no access. Many have already come back saying tough shit, we don’t buy it.
The next step would be to challenge them, but at that rate I need a lawyer, some cash, and would need to pull the whole Larry Flynt thing with flags, snipers, and middle America—which I’m not really into. I just wanna share video with people when I have something to say about movies on my blog. It’s crucial to the academic work we do, it’s crucial to the virtues of discussion, and it’s crucial to the simple fact of being a citizen. Quite frankly, we need a better way than YouTube. We need a venue that hasn’t gotten in bed with the entertainment industry. We need a place that, like my blog, I don’t have to worry about someone else deleting from me without due process and a real engagement around what copyright, fair use, and the ability to use our culture to explain and interrogate it is. If I wasn’t getting threatened by YouTUbe I probably wouldn’t be leaving right now, but I am so I am. They suck. And what’s important I guess from me in all of this, is that it is useful to keep that in mind and I am kicking myself for the 242 times I chose convenience over freedom 🙂
Below is the email I got yesterday telling me that my video was deleted, and if I wanted to get it reinstated I would have to do more than a dispute, I would have to do a DMCA Counter Notice, which would mean I’m legally bound once I challenge this and I would need a lawyer, etc. Here is their wording:
Please understand that filing a counter-notification may lead to legal proceedings between you and the complaining party to determine ownership. Be aware that there may be adverse legal consequences in your country if you make a false or bad faith allegation by using this process.
One step up from a dispute, and the second one I have gotten. This, by the way, is part of the opening credits for The Wild Bunch which is magical (I own it on VHS, Laser Disc, and DVD) and no video on YouTube could do it any justice, but I was using it in as part of a blog post to make a point about Sam Peckinpah’s film, it is a visual aid, a quote, a piece of the visual argument I need to make my point. But I can’t quote it, it has become property of some media conglomerate that would have me pay them every time I want to share how I understand a piece of the culture I was thrown into—I believe this is a concept we will look back on in time and understand it as an awful and repressive act against any sense of democracy and freedom of expression. It’s a crime against thought. I need my very own space to do my “crimes,” and this Summer I’ll be experimenting with some options. Will I be part of the Vimeo diaspora? Or can we set up some other solution on our own, we’ll see very soon 🙂