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YouTube and DMCA

Being able to publish social commentaries, reviews and critique of other people's work with impunity is a basic right in most western countries, including the USA. For example, a TV channel could broadcast a commentary, review, critique or satire of, for example, a work of art such as a book, a piece of music or a movie, and there's nothing the copyright owner can do about it. He has to suck it, so to speak. This is a basic right and if he doesn't like it, tough luck.

Currently YouTube is the world's largest channel through which regular people can share such video commentaries, reviews, critiques and satire, and its use for this purpose has skyrocketed during the last years.

However, since YouTube is owned by Google, a company based on the USA, copyright holders have found a nice way of shutting down critique and pariodies: DMCA takedown notices.

The thing is, when Google receives a DMCA notice about a video, they remove that video automatically. No questions are asked, the contents are not reviewed, nothing. DMCA notice equals automatic removal even if the claim would have no basis according to the laws of the USA.

If the owner of the video fights back and goes through all the trouble of actually getting the video restored by negotiating with Google, the only thing that copyright holder needs to do is to issue the exact same DMCA notice again and the restored video will be automatically removed once again. It doesn't matter that issuing the exact same DMCA claim over the same content is not legally enforceable, it's still automatically taken down.

If the user fights back a second time to get the video restored once again and succeeds, the copyright holder will simply send the exact same DMCA claim a third time, and again the video will be removed automatically.

But here's the kicker: If a YouTube user has three of his videos removed for "copyright infringement", his account will be suspended, all of his videos removed alongside the suspension (regardless of whether they are infringing or not) and the user banned from YouTube. Automatically, of course. (AFAIK this is done programmatically. There's nobody making the decision.)

Thus a copyright holder was able to completely ban a person from YouTube and have his account suspended and all of his videos removed by simply sending the same legally unenforceable DMCA notice three times.

This same loophole has been abused to remove videos which have no copyrighted material whatsoever (no music, no images or videos, nothing, just someone making a commentary of something). There have been actual cases.

The double kicker? Google doesn't care. They have this automation set up and they have no intention of removing or changing it. This has been a common complaint for years but they don't give a rat's ass.

Down with basic rights and freedom of speech. Long live copyright holder companies.

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