Creators Angry Over Original Video Being Taken Down by NBC, Jay Leno & YouTube

Creators Angry Over Original Video Being Taken Down by NBC, Jay Leno & YouTube

A YouTube horror story of sorts has been making its way around the internet in the last week.  Brian Kamerer and his friend Travis Irvine made a simple, upbeat video for Irvine's mayoral campaign in Bexley, Ohio in 2007.  Then, in 2009, Jay Leno, of all people. showed the video at the end of The Jay Leno Show and naturally, Kamerer and Irvine were pleased to get such exposure.  They weren't asked about using the video, but they didn't think about it too much: just getting the publicity was enough.  That was, until NBC decided that the video was their own property, and took it down from YouTube.

YouTube Lacks A Face In These "Copyright" Controversies

Of course, no matter what Kamerer could possibly say to YouTube on the matter, he's going to get a deaf ear.  One of the most curious and glaring flaws of YouTube is that there isn't anyone you can talk to when things like this happen.  Even if you can, it's not going to go far.  And with NBC, they probably didn't personally take the video down and claim it as their own, they just used their Content ID rights and that video happened to correspond with something that was on Jay Leno and they made a copyright claim to take it down.  YouTube is very proud of this content ID thing but it does show a flaw in the process.

By the way, Kamerer went ahead and re-posted the video on Funny Or Die:

The fact that this is on Funny Or Die quite freely shows where the flaw is in this system.  It shows that NBC doesn't really care about the video, but due to YouTube's Content ID, they've paradoxically claimed someone's video as their own.  Thus, Brian Kamerer took to Splitsider and posted this open letter to Jay Leno.  In it, he says:

Your company NBC just up and blocked our video and claimed that we are copyright infringers! But we are not! We made it! And this is the video that you said you loved! Now, if you try to watch our video (and again this is the video that had nothing to do with you until you used it in your show without asking) on YouTube it’s just a big black sign that basically says, “the makers of this video stole this video from NBC, so you can’t watch it!” Jay, what in the hell is going on here?

Kamerer would go on to imagine a scenario by which Jay Leno wanted to use a video for his show, but not tell the creators for any reason.  Understandably, he's pretty angry.  He finishes it with:

Don’t hide behind NBC on this one, dude. And don’t blame YouTube. And forget about the robots. I’m not talking to the robot now. I’m talking to you, Jay Leno. Where does the buck stop on The Jay Leno Show, if not with Jay Leno himself?  The buck stops with you Jay.

Jay, please apologize for using our video without asking, and then getting our video blocked and publicly calling me and my friend Travis thieves. I’m sure you would like to talk this through with us on your television show, but I’d rather meet somewhere more objective. My first choice would be to discuss this with you on the People’s Court. I had hoped arbitration would not be necessary, but I fear we are opening that door. Hope to hear back from you soon!

This seems like a tremendously simple thing to get corrected, but as Violet Blue says in her article about this:

I think Kamerer’s post is a little over the top, but I also think that he has every right to lose it over this insanity. I mean, have you ever tried to tell YouTube that NBC is wrong? (I have, and no, they don’t listen.)

And that's the biggest problem.  Even though Kamerer is shooting for Jay Leno, which is wise because it puts a face on the whole thing, the real problem is that a guy like Kamerer can't go to YouTube and say, "NBC is wrong, let's sort this out," to anyone.  He can't put in a claim that says he posted the video on this date, and the NBC show containing his video aired on a following date, which seems like a terribly simple fix to the problem (although, no doubt, there would be executives claiming that footage can be stolen before the program aired...but in this case, we're talking years after).

But maybe because YouTube has so much content coming in at once (72 hours a minute), the idea of having a department dedicated to approaching the creators' issues in a sensitive way seems impossible.  But if you can get Content ID to scan 100 years of content every day, surely you can come up with a "False Claim ID" or something of that nature by which a user puts in dates and other pertinent information into a form, and someone or something can investigate it properly.

This is something I hope YouTube fixes in the near future, because problems like this are probably going to escalate.  But you know what combining hope and YouTube is like.

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About the Author -
Chris Atkinson joined ReelSEO in 2011. He is a longtime film and television reviewer, and has almost two decades of experience in the theater industry. He also writes on his personal blog - http://nymoviereviews.com. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • KeithShaw

    We've had similar issues with posting our content to YouTube (news reports). We've used b-roll from other companies, and they go and claim it as their content, which triggers the content ID thing, even though we're a legitimate news organization

    • KeithShaw

      The problem lies not only with YouTube, but with Google as well, which is so large now and has 0.05 customer service when problems like these arise. Their customer service results in "send us an email and then pray that someone responds."

    • Yinka

       @KeithShaw "We've used b-roll from other companies, and they go and claim it as their content, which triggers the content ID thing, even though we're a legitimate news organization"  
      If you haven't licensed to use the "B-Roll", then it is in their right to block your video. You are using footage that doesn't belong to you.

  • http://www.reelseo.com/ reelseo

     @Yinka  @KeithShaw yeah, b-roll can be a problem.  These guys had none.  Their video appeared on the late show, which then was submitted to youtube as copyrighted.  So stupid

    • Yinka

       @reelseo I agree, the case discussed in the article is totally different to KeithShaw's situation I was commenting on. 
       

  • GraphicDesignNY

    Are there any ways one can prevent this from happening? There needs to be some preemptive precautions one can take to make sure they don't get snared in this type of bind.
     
     @graphicdesignny 

  • KeithShaw

     @Yinka  It's a bit more complicated than that - companies are now placing their own marketing materials and commercials on YouTube with licensing granting for use as b-roll, and the content ID is still matching it up if someone makes a claim. We've had other news organizations using the same b-roll and claiming their piece as their own copyright, and then the system triggers our content. In addition, footage that we take at trade shows (an on-stage presentation that shows a clip of b-roll, etc.) is often claimed. The issue involves the automated system that YouTube is using, and the lack of real human beings at Google/YouTube to talk with about what can and can't be used.

    • Yinka

       @KeithShaw your situation reminds me of the hassle many users have experienced upload videos that contain Apple Royalty Free music. You get these pseudo companies claiming rights to the music. 
       
      I understand your point regarding the B-roll footage usage. IMO it has the characteristics of  a scam. These pseudo companies create accounts and upload footage. They then pass their footage through YT Content ID system. They bait people into using their footage & wait for Content ID to flag the footage - Meanwhile they collect the Ad revenue placed on or beside your video.
       
      I had some company claiming the rights to music I used from iMovie on a video I uploaded to YT. After failing in my counterclaim, I deleted the video and as I didn't want anyone placing ads on my video. I later found these types of claims were common place on YT. 
       
      Since then, I only use music that is Royalty Free & allows users to upload the content onto YouTube. 

  • platinumberg

    I think the responsibility lies with the companies using ContentID. They need to dedicate human resources to rights management.
     
    YouTube has made it easy for ContentID users to quickly verify whether an auto-generated claim is valid or not. ContentID also allows for the creation of custom policies, like setting a minimum threshold for what percentage of a UGC video must be infringing in order to be claimed. ContentID users can even route any or all auto-claims through a manual review process, and ContentID will create a to-do item on your home dashboard.
     
    So really, YouTube has done a great job of providing the means to be a responsible content claimer. On the other hand, it's true that they stop there, and don't get involved with how companies decide to use the rights management tools YouTube provides.
     
    It would seem to be in YouTube's interest to allow faulty auto-claims to exist because it allows them to monetize views that would otherwise not be monetized, in the case that the ContentID policy is to monetize (run ads, but not take down the video).  But there's no benefit to anyone when the ContentID policy is to block and issue a takedown, as in the case of Kamerer and NBC.I'd love to see YouTube make some efforts to educate ContentID users on responsible rights management and suggest best practices.  I'm sure many companies using auto-claims aren't really aware of what's going on at the other end. 

  • http://www.JoshRimer.com/ JoshRimer

    Why doesn't he just file a counter-claim?  Then NBC has to actually serve him with papers within 10 days or the video gets reinstated.  Happened to me and my brother, and both times we got our videos back because of course no one ever actually gets court documents to sue you over a video... especially in this case when like you said, NBC doesn't really care to have that specific video withdrawn. 

  • SheilaCloverEnglish

    This is truly an issue, but as JoshRimer stated, there are ways to address it with YouTube. We work with CBS sometimes and have had our content taken down from our profile when it is CBS using our content, not the other way around. We file a counter claim and we have always, 100% of the time had our video put back.
    But, we did have our entire profile taken down once and it was a disaster for us. Over 1000 videos! So I know how insane this kind of thing can make you. And there really should be a better system in place.
    We resolved it in a very unorthodox way, we asked our state Senator to contact Google on our behalf. Within 2 hours our profile went back up.
    We had Warner Entertainment claim one of our videos and we contacted Warner's legal department. They were very professional and quick. Warner admitted it was an error, contacted YouTube and the video went up the same day.
    Still, I don't blame the content owners for being so mad. On the other hand, they've gotten more press than they could ever have afforded otherwise! "Silver lining".
     

  • KeithShaw

    We've had similar issues with posting our content to YouTube (news reports). We've used b-roll from other companies, and they go and claim it as their content, which triggers the content ID thing, even though we're a legitimate news organization

    • KeithShaw

      The problem lies not only with YouTube, but with Google as well, which is so large now and has 0.05 customer service when problems like these arise. Their customer service results in "send us an email and then pray that someone responds."

    • Yinka

       @KeithShaw "We've used b-roll from other companies, and they go and claim it as their content, which triggers the content ID thing, even though we're a legitimate news organization"  
      If you haven't licensed to use the "B-Roll", then it is in their right to block your video. You are using footage that doesn't belong to you.

      • http://www.reelseo.com/ reelseo

         @Yinka  @KeithShaw yeah, b-roll can be a problem.  These guys had none.  Their video appeared on the late show, which then was submitted to youtube as copyrighted.  So stupid

        • Yinka

           @reelseo I agree, the case discussed in the article is totally different to KeithShaw's situation I was commenting on. 
           

      • KeithShaw

         @Yinka  It's a bit more complicated than that - companies are now placing their own marketing materials and commercials on YouTube with licensing granting for use as b-roll, and the content ID is still matching it up if someone makes a claim. We've had other news organizations using the same b-roll and claiming their piece as their own copyright, and then the system triggers our content. In addition, footage that we take at trade shows (an on-stage presentation that shows a clip of b-roll, etc.) is often claimed. The issue involves the automated system that YouTube is using, and the lack of real human beings at Google/YouTube to talk with about what can and can't be used.

        • Yinka

           @KeithShaw your situation reminds me of the hassle many users have experienced upload videos that contain Apple Royalty Free music. You get these pseudo companies claiming rights to the music. 
           
          I understand your point regarding the B-roll footage usage. IMO it has the characteristics of  a scam. These pseudo companies create accounts and upload footage. They then pass their footage through YT Content ID system. They bait people into using their footage & wait for Content ID to flag the footage - Meanwhile they collect the Ad revenue placed on or beside your video.
           
          I had some company claiming the rights to music I used from iMovie on a video I uploaded to YT. After failing in my counterclaim, I deleted the video and as I didn't want anyone placing ads on my video. I later found these types of claims were common place on YT. 
           
          Since then, I only use music that is Royalty Free & allows users to upload the content onto YouTube. 

  • GraphicDesignNY

    Are there any ways one can prevent this from happening? There needs to be some preemptive precautions one can take to make sure they don't get snared in this type of bind.
     
     @graphicdesignny 

  • platinumberg

    I think the responsibility lies with the companies using ContentID. They need to dedicate human resources to rights management.
     
    YouTube has made it easy for ContentID users to quickly verify whether an auto-generated claim is valid or not. ContentID also allows for the creation of custom policies, like setting a minimum threshold for what percentage of a UGC video must be infringing in order to be claimed. ContentID users can even route any or all auto-claims through a manual review process, and ContentID will create a to-do item on your home dashboard.
     
    So really, YouTube has done a great job of providing the means to be a responsible content claimer. On the other hand, it's true that they stop there, and don't get involved with how companies decide to use the rights management tools YouTube provides.
     
    It would seem to be in YouTube's interest to allow faulty auto-claims to exist because it allows them to monetize views that would otherwise not be monetized, in the case that the ContentID policy is to monetize (run ads, but not take down the video).  But there's no benefit to anyone when the ContentID policy is to block and issue a takedown, as in the case of Kamerer and NBC.I'd love to see YouTube make some efforts to educate ContentID users on responsible rights management and suggest best practices.  I'm sure many companies using auto-claims aren't really aware of what's going on at the other end. 

  • http://www.JoshRimer.com/ JoshRimer

    Why doesn't he just file a counter-claim?  Then NBC has to actually serve him with papers within 10 days or the video gets reinstated.  Happened to me and my brother, and both times we got our videos back because of course no one ever actually gets court documents to sue you over a video... especially in this case when like you said, NBC doesn't really care to have that specific video withdrawn. 

  • SheilaCloverEnglish

    This is truly an issue, but as JoshRimer stated, there are ways to address it with YouTube. We work with CBS sometimes and have had our content taken down from our profile when it is CBS using our content, not the other way around. We file a counter claim and we have always, 100% of the time had our video put back.
    But, we did have our entire profile taken down once and it was a disaster for us. Over 1000 videos! So I know how insane this kind of thing can make you. And there really should be a better system in place.
    We resolved it in a very unorthodox way, we asked our state Senator to contact Google on our behalf. Within 2 hours our profile went back up.
    We had Warner Entertainment claim one of our videos and we contacted Warner's legal department. They were very professional and quick. Warner admitted it was an error, contacted YouTube and the video went up the same day.
    Still, I don't blame the content owners for being so mad. On the other hand, they've gotten more press than they could ever have afforded otherwise! "Silver lining".
     

  • jrandom123

    This control freak attitude is nothing new for NBC. Hell, they tried to take Johnny Carson off the air in the late '70s for criticizing his own network and (allegedly) slipping ratings. Sure, maybe a bad idea to bite the hand that feeds, but NBC learned real fast that you don't mess with the King of Late Night. I saw on the recent documentary that not only did Johnny win the lawsuit, but retained 100% full rights to every single reel of the Tonight Show, which are all kept in a salt mine in Nebraska 40ft below the earth.
     
    Jay makes fun of NBC all the time, esp. during the Jay vs. Conan controversy. Even Leno himself follows in Carson's footsteps and calls NBC "nuthin' but crap." They don't call themselves the peacock network for nothing: always wanting to strut their feathers as though they're really the sh*t. Shame on Google (which owns YouTube) for caving to the pressure of yet another idiotic media conglomerate that really does release nuthin' but crap these days. Their sitcoms last about as long as a Kardashian marriage because NBC = nobody cares.
     
    Props to this guy for not giving up the good fight, and shame on the turkey dodo peacock. Jay ought to step in and give this guy a break, but then the network would probably hand over the Tonight Show to a talking peacock or air ALF reruns or something to screw Leno. This whole copyright system is just flat-out copywrong. Its original intent was to protect patent holders from theft and other creators (i.e. authors, musicians, etc.) from plagiarism, not "unauthorized use" as it's been interpreted to mean. If anyone's guilty of infringement, it's friggin' NBC on this poor guy who just happened to get some deserved publicity on a big-time TV show. They don't want to "protect creative ownership." They just want to play the gatekeepers and keep the little guy from hitting it big without playing their BS game.