Improving the YouTube pages for disabled videos
One seldom discussed effect of Warner Music Group’s locust-like raid on the YouTube community is the loss of video metadata. When access to a video is disabled for reasons of alleged copyright infringement, users see a page like this:
The video is not the only thing lost, however. Along with access to the video, YouTube disables access to all accompanying information: the title, tags, description, comments, related videos, response videos, ratings, and number of views. While S.512(c)(1) of the DMCA certainly compels the wise service provider to disable the allegedly infringing video, they could do so without ripping a node out of the network like a bandage from a hairy knee!
Imagine instead that the pages for disabled videos were rendered like this mockup:
Although viewers will be disappointed that the video is missing, opportunity persists for continued dialogue. The original poster can use the description box to explain the situation. Perhaps he or she voluntarily removed the video. Perhaps the the video has been moved to another site. Perhaps the claim is being disputed and viewers should return in the future.
Likewise, viewers have multiple channels through which they might respond to the video’s removal.
If the value to viewers, posters, and scholars are not sufficiently compelling, consider that a single DMCA takedown, spurious or not, potentially tramples the authorship rights of hundreds of users whose comments are summarily disabled.
From the YouTube Terms of Service, Section 5:
The content on the YouTube Website, except all User Submissions (as defined below), including without limitation, the text, software, scripts, graphics, photos, sounds, music, videos, interactive features and the like (“Content”) and the trademarks, service marks and logos contained therein (“Marks”), are owned by or licensed to YouTube, subject to copyright and other intellectual property rights under the law.”(Thanks to Alex Leavitt from YouTomb for this research.)
User comments are User Submissions and they are typically non-infringing, original expressions fixed to a medium. In other words, unlike the numerous remixes and home videos flagged by Warner Music Group, YouTube comments are clearly the property of their posters and that ownership ought to be respected.
Rather than frustrate community members with dead-end links and unreliable embeds, YouTube should implement an interface for disabled videos that plays to its strengths by encouraging conversation.
A complete mockup for such a page is included below. Click through for a high-resolution version:
(Cross-posted to the Center for Future Civic Media.)