YouTube Blindly Follows Viacom’s Demands, Deletes Legitimate Videos

By Nathan Weinberg

Over the last week, Viacom, reportedly after negotiations went nowhere, demanded YouTube remove 100,000 videos. Now, people are complaining that legitimate videos got swept up in the Great Purge, including this guy who had a video of him and some buddies discussing RSS and OPML, deleted because it occured in a restaurant that shares a name with a CBS personality.

What’s always been ridiculous with YouTube’s copyright enforcement is that the few times it even tries to enforce it, it usually deleted tons of legitimate content, with this incident being the worst. It appears that CBS entered the names of its shows into the search engine, and everything that came up, they demanded it be removed. Jason is trying to build a list of videos that were deleted (it’s obviously in very early stages) and considering a feature for VidMirror that would detect when a video is deleted and replace it with the same video from another service.

This whole debacle goes to the root of what has been driving me nuts about YouTube since I first heard about it. We need to be able to rely on YouTube, not just for stuff that was uploaded yesterday, but down the road videos that are years old and date back to the beginning of YouTube. Google lost a lot of goodwill by not finding an agreement with Viacom, and the users and the service suffered as a result.

When Google bought YouTube, it seemed like there was going to be a flurry of deals fixing the copyright problems and making video available to the masses, as it should be. That hasn’t happened, and I have to blame Google for poor execution. They need to start following through for their users, not just on the promises they’ve actually made, but the promises the community believes them to have made. Since Google doesn’t communicate with its users, we give it expectations that it either can’t meet, fails to meet, or never intended to meet, and it needs to start dealing with that. Somebody’s going to become the next “old Microsoft”, and I don’t think Google wants it to be them.

February 7, 2007 by Nathan Weinberg in:

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