14 July 2011

Falsely Accused - A Tale of a Copyright Infringement Claim on YouTube

As most of you might know, I have a YouTube channel dedicated to my aviation antics called AbraxasVideo. Back in January the channel celebrated one year online with 18 videos uploaded. By the end of May, the channel was just over 40 videos strong.

In late May I was uploading videos from a 5 part series of footage I had filmed on 14 March 2008. The first three parts had gone online without issue, but part 4 encountered problems within hours of being put online. A 'content author' on YouTube, Expert Village had the video disabled because they felt they owned the 'Audiovisual content' of the video. I was baffled, but I pulled the video down and re-edited it. The newer version of Part 4 went through okay (see below):

27th May 2011 I uploaded Part 5, the finale and much anticipated video of the series as it has (what I thought was) some of the best footage. No sooner was it online and after a mere 29 views, the video was pulled again. YouTube allow you to counter-claim when a video has been disabled by submitting a good-faith email stating you feel the video has been identified incorrectly or by mistake. I did this in both cases which re-enables the video, until the complaining entity shuts the door again, which is what happened to me.

My account was now in bad standing regarding copyright as it had two strikes against it. I researched Expert Village, on YouTube they run a channel of tutorial/how-to videos and through a Google search I was redirected to the eHow website. I posted a thread on YouTube's help forum which explained the situation and followed that up with attempts to communicate with ExpertVillage via their YouTube channel and following the help links provided on the eHow website.

After a few weeks there was no reply from the YouTube channel and the eHow website help was completely unhelpful with this response:


Thank you for your inquiry. However, our representatives can only answer questions pertaining to the eHow website. We apologize we couldn't help you out today.

eHow Team

No suggested course of action or where I might be able to proceed to. In the end, I followed the advice of YouTube help forum top contributor 'rewboss' who suggested I go through the legal forms YouTube provides to counter-claim against a copyright infringement. This means submitting my personal information to the claimant, hoping they see reason and realise the mistakes they've made. If not, there is the real threat of being sued and taken to court - at least that's what they warn you before you submit the form!

I submitted the form on 1st June 2011 and waited, watching the days and weeks go by. It was exactly 4 weeks later that I received an email from YouTube's Copyright area that they had received the counter-claim and would forward it to the claimant, Expert Village with an expected response within 10-14 working days. The favourable outcome being that Expert Village either withdraw their claim or don't reply to the counter-claim at all, in which case YouTube (at their discretion) can reinstate the videos and remove any penalties against an account. An unfavourable outcome I guess would have involved the claimant sticking to their guns about the alleged infringement.

Thankfully, on 13th July 2011 I received an email from YouTube:

"Hi there,

In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we've completed processing your counter-notification regarding your video:


This content has been restored and your account will not be penalized.

The YouTube Team"

...and that was it. While I didn't expect an apology, there's no word from the claimant. I'm guessing they didn't reply at all since their channel seems to be defunct these days. Worrying though is that there's nothing to stop this from happening again.

I checked with other aviation video contributors on YouTube and none of them had gone through what I had experienced. I checked my work but what was I looking for? The footage was from my own video camera, filmed in a public place. I’m pretty sure Expert Village had no jurisdiction over the planes, airlines, liveries, engine sounds and air-traffic control audio used in my videos. I even checked the Sydney Airport site for their copyright policy regarding their corporate logo which I have been using in the opening titles for my videos shot there.

Thankfully the outcome was favourable and Abraxas Video is able to continue showcasing aviation related videos on YouTube. Had this gone badly I’m not sure what action I would have taken. Start up a new YouTube channel? Go to a different video website (and lose the exposure YouTube offers)? Probably neither. I probably would have simply stopped sharing my footage :(

The main reason for my whinge/rant here is that I hadn’t done anything wrong or uploaded any infringing footage yet it was a case of guilty until proven innocent. Of course I’m aware that YouTube is free to use and there are probably many users who abuse copyright with the videos they throw up there but I really wish the process could have been easier and less daunting. How an entity that has nothing to do with aviation can disable two of my videos just because they say my videos infringe their copyright is beyond me. Then for the resolution process to take more than 6 weeks!? At least fighting the claim was worth it and thankfully I'm not trying to run a business using YouTube's services.

So I just had to get this whole ordeal off my chest!

You can watch the 'infringing' video here:

In the time away from uploading aviation videos to YouTube I've continued compiling footage and am looking forward to resuming uploads from next week. All of this until the next entity decides there's been some sort of infringement...

Thanks for reading. Maybe this post will be helpful for anyone who ends up in the same position.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that it worked out.

Maybe they were just looking for a little payout??