All my YouTube comments have disappeared!

Comments Deleted

[Update 10/11/2012:  What a relief!  All my old YouTube comments appear to have been restored successfully.  Thanks to the YouTube team for correcting the situation so promptly.]

[Update 10/10/2012: Some news: I received an email from the youtube team saying "A small number of YouTube users may have had their comments deleted as a result of an error on our part". They sent a link to a reinstatement form, which I submitted, and I now wait with fingers crossed for a speedy and successful recovery. Here’s a link to that form, if you feel you’ve also been affected by this issue!]

Today I noticed something completely depressing!  I was looking back at some older comments on one of my videos and I noticed that none of my comments were there. When I clicked on someone’s reply to one of my comments “in reply to John Cooper (Show the comment)”, it popped up a dialog saying “The comment no longer exists”.

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Copyright or Wrong?

After several emails back and forth with the YouTube Copyright and DMCA compliance team, their primary message was:

Please note that YouTube does not mediate copyright disputes

Thanks very much.  I got that.   I repeatedly asked “What’s my recourse if the copyright claimant has mistakenly confirmed their claim to my content?”  They simply wouldn’t answer my question.  “YouTube does not mediate copyright disputes” is all I could get.

Finally, they sent over an email address of a specific person at Spinnin Records.  I wrote yet another email to this guy, trying to be polite despite my frustration after all the emails and messages I had already sent.  And this morning I was rewarded with a quick mildly apologetic reply that they had released their claim on my video.     Thank you!

Content_ID_FailHowever, seriously, WTF?!     I can understand that false positives are inevitable with an automated content-ID matching system.   However, the official process of disputing the claim on YouTube is obviously deeply flawed if the claimant can simply press a button and now “All content owners have reviewed your video and confirmed their claims”.

This took me a week to get resolved, during which time Spinnin Records was earning income from my work.  Both the content-ID matching system, and the official YouTube process for disputing the claim all completely failed.

My copyright:  (c) 2011 John S. CooperAt the end of each of my videos, I have a copyright notice like the one at the right.

Does this actually provide any protection to the content that I create?  Or am I kidding myself?

Goliath as Content Pirate

Astonishingly, the status on my copyright claim dispute now says:

All content owners have reviewed your video and confirmed their claims to some or all of its content:  Entity: Spinnin’ Records Content Type: Visual content

Really?!  Somebody at Spinnin’ Records took the time to watch my video and confirmed that they own some part of my 10 minute production?  That’s preposterous.  More like “Cha-ching, another sucker whose video we can hijack for our monetary gain!”  What motivation do they have to make it right, when YouTube offers no recourse to the creator (me), and all power goes to the copyright claimant (them) who can just sit back, relax, and make money from other people’s efforts.

Spinnin Records Ad on my VideoI’ve emailed Spinnin Records, and sent a message through YouTube to user “SpinningRec”.  No response.   Meanwhile, my video now has an advertisement and link to buy some Guy’s song “Quantum”.    So they’re receiving ad and click income from my work.

On the one hand, we’re not talking about millions of $$$ here.  On the other, it simply feels unbelievably unfair, and that I am being wronged here.  It’s hard not to feel a bit like David vs Goliath.

I found this website run by a law student with an interest in copyright law.  Clearly I’m not alone in this.  I particularly like his paper Why YouTube’s Content ID dispute process does not work the way YouTube says it does.

Attack of the Content-Matching Bots

Last night, I received this rather nefarious “content ID match” email from the youtube content-matching bots:

Dear johnplanetz,

Your video, Simple JFET Preamp for an iDevice guitar Interface, part 2, may have content that is owned or licensed by Spinnin’ Records.

No action is required on your part; however, if you are interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.

Sincerely,
– The YouTube Team

If I’m reading that right, they’re saying that if I don’t do anything, the guys at Spinnin’ Records can hijack and monetize my video, and start making money from my work.  Niiiiice!

Matched Third Party ContentI’m generally very careful in my videos to avoid copyright issues.  My intro/outro music is all composed and performed by me.  And the guitar riffs I play are usually just improvisations or noodling, or perhaps inspired by another song (as with the riff inspired by Faces’ Had Me  A Real Good Time at the beginning of my K-Tone Travel Guitar review).

Very occasionally, I’ll play a short riff by another artist, but this should be covered under fair use.  For example, I played a bit of Weezer’s Say It Ain’t So in my treble bleed video, and a riff from Oasis’ Champagne Supernova in my AC15 cabinets video.

Visual ContentAs I was initiating the dispute process,

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