YouTube, what are you doing?


Update: Here is the same video I have tried to upload – it’s already on YouTube. But I can’t upload it – even under a different account.  Odd.

Someone sent me a video today, as a comment on an earlier post.  I had never seen the clip, even though I am a Dilbert Fan.  I thought I would upload the 10.2MB video to YouTube, then link to it here.

YouTube rejected the video.  OK – I put a description that included the word “Dilbert”.  Maybe they are screening for that.  Five hours later I upload the video again – with a different description.


Interesting.  Based on what?  I couldn’t tell based on my description of what I was uploading, the media I was uploading (met the size/duration requirements) and the failure message I received (against Terms of Use, see the rules, blah blah blah).  The rules did not tell me why my video – based only on the file I was uploading and my now completely fake description were rejected.

A few hours later I decided to see if I could figure out what YouTube is up to.  I renamed the file, changed the description and uploaded it a third time.

YouTube STILL rejected the video.  Based on what?  What are they looking at to determine that this video violated the Terms of Use?  Something IN the video?  Did they know what it was based on some metadata?  If so, and they rejected it for that reason, then they are evidently screening movies for copyright violation – and if that is true, they no longer (in my reading of it) qualify for Safe Harbor.  I am sure their lawyers would disagree.

If they demonstrate the ability and desire to screen ANY videos based only on information contained within the video, then they have the (presumed) ability to scan ALL uploads for copyright violations using the same criteria they might be applying selectively.

 This doesn’t make sense.  I can understand rejecting a video with a description that includes the name of a cartoonist.  I can see rejecting a video with a certain file name.  I do think you could might get away with that under Safe Harbor.  But rejecting a submission based on information in the file itself – that I think is crossing a line.  That, I think, removes the Safe Harbor provisions.  And without them, YouTube is a theft site.  Just as if they were allowing free downloads of Microsoft Vista to include valid Product Keys.  If they are profiting (they are profiting) off of others copyrighted works (anyone really think they are not?) AND they have the ability to stop it (via screening) yet they elect not to (or neglect to) screen, then they are stealing.

Now I could be totally wrong.  YouTube may have a wonderful argument explanation for this.  Perhaps they do.  If so then I want to understand it.  I also want YouTube to tell me WHY an upload has been rejected.  Certainly they know what their algorithm is doing.  Share that info with me – that way if it is just wrong, I’ll know how to tell you that.  But hiding behind a pseudo-non-existent screening just isn’t making any sense to me.

If the reason for rejection is valid, at least I’ll understand why.  Instead I get the same rejected message three times – with no idea WHY it was rejected (other than the fact that it WAS copyrighted material – but how did YouTube know that?).

And if they DID know that – what does that mean?

It’ll be years before the first court cases settle, so it probably doesn’t mean much right now – unless someone gets a cease and desist against YouTube while the courts wrangle things.  That would change the online video market a great deal — over night.