Mirror your videos; protect your rights

As YouTube’s instability continues to frustrate community members, video makers are forced to adapt. Fanvidders have been highly proactive in both anticipating and managing the constraints presented by YouTube’s copyright policy.

Initially, vidders developed codes for discussing their videos. panswendyy recounts one coding strategy,

[My friend] uses the first letter of the character’s names, like B for Buffy, so if it were a Fuffy, she’d just put B/F.

Unfortunately, such codes are ineffective responses to the automated Video Identification system deployed by Google in 2007. With no voice with which to argue fair use, many users sacrifice the incomparably large community on YouTube for friendlier service elsewhere.

Before setting sail for imeem (or Vimeo, blip, dailymotion, etc), prolific YouTube users like cmspillane post videos explaining the reasons for their departure. (Ironically, because of its background music, we should expect the signoff itself to disappear.)

In response to an earlier blog post about preserving comments on disabled videos, Dean writes that YouTube might prefer that users are “unable to de-facto redirect to other versions of infringing material.” This should come as no surprise.

Mirroring videos is the most powerful immediate action that video makers can take to protect their rights as authors.

The gradual disappearance of videos from YouTube over the last 18 months progressed largely undetected because of an emergent practice distributed among thousands of community members. A few common searches reveals that the most popular videos are frequently ripped and re-upped under a variety of accounts. Like bees unwittingly pollinating a field of wild flowers, these re-ups are often executed by spammers looking for more hits on their other videos. The preservation of threatened videos is merely a by-product of their unscrupulous pursuit of views!

Moving to another service allows creators to continue practicing their craft but does little to challenge the irresponsible, wasteful industry practice of issuing copyright claims willy-nilly.

Can proactive re-upping and mirroring be an effective response to the accelerating disappearance of fanvids, remixes, home videos, and rare finds from the YouTube collection?

What would an automated mirroring / re-upping tool look like? Could YouTomb data be mobilized toward such an effort?

Remember, a DMCA takedown is not a judgement. YouTube disables access to videos based on mere claims of infringement. If you have had a video identified, the EFF wants to hear from you. Please do not let the short-sighted actions of a frightened industry intimidate you from participating in the creation of your culture!

(Cross-posted to the Students for Free Culture blog.)

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