There can be no doubt that copyright holders have a huge task ahead of them if they are to make even the slightest dent in the availability of unauthorized online content. Google has received more than 200 million notices this year alone and it’s still a breeze to obtain almost anything within a few minutes.
In an operation of this scale mistakes will be made and we’ve seen on dozens of occasions how content has been taken down wrongfully. But while Google is increasingly sharp when it comes to rejecting false claims against its search listings, the same cannot be said about its approach to YouTube where the playing field is much more tricky.
While it can be easy to see that a link to a blockbuster movie or music album might be unlawful, judging whether each and every video uploaded to YouTube is legal would amount to a full-time job for hundreds of lawyers, something that is simply not realistic. Due to these limitations illegal content is uploaded every day, while at the same time companies exploit the situation to silence their critics.
Dean Salter is a regular guy. He loves football, lives in Essex (UK) and has a passion for video games. Together with a few friends he spends his spare time creating videos for their Game Over Man podcast on YouTube, a non-monetized video gaming channel put up there purely for fun and the enjoyment of others.
“We don’t have a dedicated audience of any sort, we just enjoy the idea of meeting up, discussing our opinions and excitements within the gaming world, record these discussions and then upload them to iTunes and release them on to the internet to who ever happens to stumble across them, free of charge of course,” he says.
Just recently Dean made a video about Infestation: Survivor Stories, a zombie survival game previously titled The War Z that was renamed after receiving negative reviews. Dean’s video review, which is pretty damn funny if a little unconventional, went up on YouTube. Here it is, well worth a couple of minutes viewing to appreciate the context of what follows.
Anything illegal there? Absolutely not. But of course, the fact that it’s hosted in
Vimeo Dailymotion pretty much predicts what has happened here. Following a copyright complaint from Hammerpoint Interactive, the company behind the game, the video has been taken down.
As readers will recall, last month famous game reviewer TotalBiscuit suffered a similar fate when Wild Games Studio censored his critical video of their game Day One: Garry’s Incident.
Commenting on his own woes, TotalBiscuit encapsulated the dilemma of users with less visibility than himself.
“I’ve gotta be honest, I am fortunate, my channel is large as is my following. I am backed by a great network with a lot of resources,” he said. “I can get my voice heard but what about the smaller channels that can’t?
TotalBiscuit’s problems were indeed widely covered in the press (after all, he has more than 1.3 million YouTube subscribers). Dean and his friends have only 66 subscribers, which is probably why they’re currently struggling to get the interest of the gaming press.
Also, the channel’s relative obscurity makes the perfect environment for the censors since after silencing it no one will care.
The entire point of sites like YouTube, the whole user-generated content movement, and even the Internet itself, is that anyone can have their voice heard. TotalBiscuit once had 66 subscribers, YouTube once had 66 subscribers and so did Google. Everyone has to start somewhere and abusing a law to bully someone offline and take their voice away is something that no company should be allowed to get away with.
Dean is currently awaiting a response from YouTube and Hammerpoint Interactive, whose awful website provides no contact details whatsoever. Let’s see what excuses they can come up with this time.
Update: The Vimeo video was taken down as well and it’s now hosted on Dailymotion.