I know its every person's dream to have a video go viral on YouTube, but what if it starts to go viral and you need to stop it for one reason or another?

That's what happened to me last week. Since I have an active YouTube audience, my brother gave me a funny video of his son crying when he got a bike for his birthday. I put it up over a month ago and it got 5,000 views in about a day and a half before we decided it would be best to take the video down due to some privacy concerns we didn't think through at first.

I didn't think it would be a big deal. There where a couple people who were bummed that the video wasn't available to show to their friends, but that was it. We went on with life.

Apparently during the brief period of time that the video was posted, someone downloaded it, held on to it for a month, and last week distributed it to several popular hollywood gossip websites. Thankfully one of my YouTube subscribers saw it and tipped me off that our video had been stolen and redistributed. I checked it out and was shocked how many sites were linking back to the sites who were hosting it. It had only been up for a few hours!

Getting most of the websites to cooperate and take our video down was not easy. A few were cooperative, but the video had already reached several thousand views on each site hosting it. A friend of mine in another state even text messaged me to saying she was in a restaurant and saw our video on a popular TV show! Not only was the video going viral fast, but it was totally outside our control and someone else was benefiting from our content.

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Other people started to upload it to YouTube and thus started an ordeal of submitted copyright infringement claims, contacting webmasters, and trying to remove the video's privacy concern from the Internet. Unfortunately, it didn't work. Both Bing and Yahoo picked up the video and featured it and after that we pretty much gave up.

We considered uploading a longer version of the video to try to pick up some of the remaining views of people searching for it and to prove that it's our content, but ultimately decided to ignore how virally our video spread outside our control and to let it die off. Unfortunately, that wild fire took off without us. Neither my brother nor I ever earned a dime from it nor did he ever receive credit for his content.

The lesson here is clear: once you post something online, you can never take it back. It's almost somewhat of an Internet cliche, but it is oh so true.

  • http://www.reelseo.com/author/grantastic/ Grant Crowell

    Yes, I believe for the other sites, you would need to file a DMCA notice to each of their ISPs, correct? It's good to know that YouTube did respond in a timely manner, although it still requires you having to go through the extra work of always monitoring and being proactive, rather than have access to the technology they make available to their content partners.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1469367287 Mike Monroe

    I read in a popular PR book (I believe it was GROUNDSWELL)- "Trying to take bad press off the internet is like trying to take piss out of a swimming pool."...sounds about right.

  • http://www.studentministry.org Tim Schmoyer

    That's true, we did more to contain it than unviralize it. Most of the viral nature was not on YouTube in our case, it was one some hollywood gossip blogs that host their own videos. The copies that appeared on YouTube were easier to handle because YouTube has a copyright form (took them about 24 hours to respond to each one). When other sites self-host videos, it's a bit more difficult to do anything about removing the content if they don't feel like taking it down.

  • http://www.reelseo.com/author/grantastic/ Grant Crowell

    Maybe I missed something, I don't think this answered the question posted in the title? From what was shared, it seemed like the efforts haven't been successful to stop the spread. Maybe it's more about containing a virus than killing it?

    Perhaps to paraphrase your minister colleague Rob Bell, "YouTube Wins."

    Now if YouTube made it's Content ID technology available to others to purchase and utilize on a licensing basis (and not just to it's own content parters), this could have stopped the real viral spread. It's a case where the actual spread of something causes virtual harm.