Last week's tightening up of YouTube's ContentID system saw many channels, those gaming focused in particular, with increased strikes or takedowns brought against them for alleged copyright infringements. These actions have caused chaos for many account holders who are now fighting to get them overturned. Yesterday, saw the Canadian entertainment and syndication channel WatchMoJo, disappear from the site, with the following notification appearing on their YouTube homepage:
YouTube account WatchMoJo.com has been terminated because we received multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement from claimants including: SOFA Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp, UEFA.
WatchMoJo is one of the largest YouTube partner channels with over 77 million monthly views, and just under 1,400,000 subscribers.
UPDATE: The site is now live and operating again and CEO Ashkan Karbasfrooshan has given ReelSEO the following statement:
YouTube does it best to manage copyright takedowns and retractions promptly, but even though FOX retracted the claims on Thursday evening... by Saturday YouTube had not processed those retractions. Why the channel was abruptly taken down on Saturday is being investigated; we lost a lot of revenue and let's face it, if a random person saw our channel when it was down they would presume we were some kind of rogue operation - which we are not. But for now, we are happy that Copyright Law prevailed, our channel is back up and our viewers can enjoy WatchMojo's fantastic videos on their favorite site YouTube again.
Yesterday, just after the account was terminated, Karbasfrooshan told us that:
Our YouTube channel has always been in good standing. While we do get the occasional automatic copyright complaint by YouTube's ContentID, none of these are withheld once we counter-notify the claimant as we usually either:
a) have permission from the rightsholder to promote a franchise or release, or
b) are permitted under Copyright Law to create new transformative works provided they pass the four tests of Fair Use.
For the record, out of over 7,000 videos we have published on YouTube, we have had ZERO (0) takedown claims withheld. In no case has a claimant actually believed that we were doing anything wrong, with more than one actually stating on record that they appreciated and benefited from our videos. Indeed, while no claimant could ever demonstrate that our videos cause them harm or damage; incorrect and overly-aggressive takedown claims do hurt us, with the damage thereof being easy to prove and quantify.
While YouTube updated its ContentID policies this week, we did receive a handful of claims which we replied to immediately. Indeed, on Thursday evening we received a notice from YouTube giving us seven (7) days to resolve three (3) claims that were received on that day, but as of Thursday evening both YouTube and the claimant confirmed that the claims were resolved. We have these communications in writing.
In fact, as of this morning at 10am EST, our account was in good standing and we published a video with no problem.
Nonetheless, something must have happened because as of 1pm EST our channel was abruptly "terminated" with no notice. As today's cancellation caught us by surprise and happened on a weekend, we have reached out to YouTube to seek an explanation and resolve the matter. We would like to reiterate that we respect Copyright Law and have always prevailed in these matters.
WatchMoJo also confirmed that while they did receive a number of new claims and two copyright strikes, most of the claims and strikes were released. The company received email confirmation of this which was forwarded that to YouTube... and YouTube itself confirmed the account was fine. WatchMoJo maintain that while they do have explicit and/or implicit permission of many rightsholders, they do NOT need permission if they are:
a) creating new transformative works
b) pass the 4 tests of fair use (note commercial use doesn't nullify fair use, especially if you are monetizing it indirectly)
c) not damaging the value of the underlying works.
They argue that record labels, TV and film studios tell them they are totally fine with what they do but the issues are usually caused:
by a junior person sitting behind a desk using ContentID and not realizing that while our videos cause ZERO damage to their franchises (and in fact add value to them by promoting them) their incorrect claims do hurt us... so technically as odd as it sounds, we have a bigger beef legally speaking.
Karbasfrooshan confirms that:
FOX issued 3 copyright strikes via their copyright bot but as per their email to me, they released those claims. So not sure what happened here. It just sucks. Ultimately: we can prove and quantify the damage that those overly-aggressive claims have on our business whereas our videos are not only transformative but pass the fair use tests and they cause no damage whatsoever to the claimants. So the balance of inconvenience (a legal term) is on our side.
The WatchMoJo channel is now live but they have suffered financially during the takedown and their reputation has been brought into question.