Less than a month ago, I wrote about fellow blogger Eric Turkewitz at the New York Personal Injury Law Blog being sued by Dr. Michael Katz for having accurately written about the doc’s getting butt-smacked by Queens Supreme Court Justice Duane Hart. The crux of the case was a video taken of Katz’s medical exam on behalf of the insurance company that didn’t want to pay.
The video was evidence used in the case before Justice Hart, and this piece of evidence in a New York courtroom was uploaded to YouTube, and embedded in my post. As of yesterday, poof, it was gone. No notice. No letter. No email. No, questions asked before it was gone. YouTube disappeared it.
When I was alerted to this fact, I went to YouTube to see what happened. Hackers, perhaps? A brute force attack by anarcho-syndicalists bent on ridding the web of images of doctors? Nope, the message on the vid was clear: YouTube removed it for violating “community standards.”
There’s a number to call about such things, so I called it. You get a message from a pleasant young woman saying nothing and then hanging up. That didn’t seem useful, so I sent the following email under the heading “Media Query on Takedown.” I know, media, right? Well, get over it. I am.
Hi. I’m an attorney and legal blogger at Simple Justice. A Youtube video was embedded in this post: Turkewitz Sued By “Liar” Doctor, Michael Katz | Simple Justice, and now appears to be removed from Youtube.
The video was a court exhibit in the underlying case in New York Supreme Court, Queens County. The Youtube URL for the video is www.youtube.com/embed/
It appears that the video has been removed for TOS violation. I plan to follow up with this story about its removal, and would like to either speak with someone from youtube on the basis for the takedown or get a copy of the DMCA notice, as I assume the basis for the takedown is a copyright claim, which is problematic given that this was a court exhibit.
I can be reached at 212-227-8585. Thank you for your assistance.
Nice. Unthreatening. Benign, really. Just asking a question. No reason to react poorly. Now there’s a guy named Fred Von Lohmann, who serves as YouTube’s chief copyright counsel. He had some prior involvement with EFF, so I thought to myself, he can’t be too stiff even though he doesn’t have a cool Google-title like Jolly Good Fellow. Really, wouldn’t some elf in the bowels of YouTube’s boiler room think to themselves, this email from this lawyer/blogger is worth a look-see by someone who doesn’t answer all questions from a playbook?
The response came swiftly. Swiftly is good, but that was all the good to be had.
The YouTube Community has flagged one or more of your videos as inappropriate. Once a video is flagged, it is reviewed by the YouTube Team against our Community Guidelines. Upon review, we have determined that one or more of your videos contain content in violation of these guidelines. Videos that are in violation of our Community Guidelines are removed from YouTube. Accounts that are responsible for multiple or severe violations of our Community Guidelines may be terminated.
Please take some time to learn about YouTube’s Community Guidelines and how they are enforced.
If you believe a Community Guidelines strike was applied to your account in error, you may appeal it.
The YouTube Copyright Team
I sincerely appreciated the detailed, personal attention reflected by this email. After shaking my head, banging it against my keyboard a few times, I decided to try the appeal button to see what would happen, except there was no such button. At my channel settings, there was no strike and nothing to appeal. Dead end.
It struck me as a good question for the Copyright Team (which is still not as cool a name as Google’s Jolly Good Fellow) as to why a court exhibit would be removed, but there was no one to ask.
So I ask Fred, copyright lawyer in charge of protecting YouTube from looking like a censorious asshat on the interwebz, why a public exhibit would be removed from YouTube? Why would it be removed without notice? Why would it be removed unilaterally? Why, Fred? Why?
And is this idiotic email response the best you can do, YouTube? Your business model is based on uploaded videos, a great deal since you make money for your Google Overlords (another cool Google name) off others without having to lift a finger, and can’t be bothered having a highly trained monkey actually read and provide a quasi-meaningful response to a query?
Fail, YouTube. And Fred, you are no Jolly Good Fellow.