Coriolanus Wouldn't Stand This

As part of my Twelve Moments Of Christmas (thirteen videos, somehow), I made a very brief video about Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut. It got me a copyright strike YouTube won’t let me counter. I whine about it for several paragraphs.

That video was taken down by Lasso Rights Group, via YouMoo’s automatic system. I appealed on the grounds that the copyrighted material I had used had been used in a transformative way and as part of commentary. I still affirm my use of clips from Coriolanus was and is protected by Fair Use.

Ralph thinks you should calm your tits and have a Gin & Tonic.

Ralph thinks you should calm your tits and have a Gin & Tonic.

In the past, I’ve had videos taken down in the same way. YouTube’s system usually allows for a round of appeals, whereby a copyright holder using automatic identification might manually review a video. Or they might not, as there is no repercussion for ignoring the Fair Use defense and YouTube has little impetus to give videomakers a fraction of the say of copyright holders.

Lasso went ahead and asked YouTube to take the Coriolanus video down, which YouTube is compelled to do. I counter-notified, meaning I affirmed, again, that my video used copyrighted material in a way protected by Fair Use. In the past when I’ve had to do this (thanks Fox and Channel 4) my counter-notification was processed by YouTube, at their leisure, and then sent to the copyright holder.

On receiving a counter-notification the copyright holder has two options. The first is to do nothing, thereby allowing YouTube to restore the video and expunging the Copyright Strike automatically issued by YouTube to the not-so-innocent-until-proven-guilty videomaker. YouTube tells channel owners that three such strikes puts their channel at risk of deletion.

The second option a copyright holder has is to sue. Not many people get sued. If this video had been kept up and remained monetised, I’d have made about $10-$15 from it. I was never worried about being sued. I just wanted to take the strike, eventually get it overturned and the video released, and move on.

With the Corionalus video however, YouTube’s legal team did not pass on my counter-notification to Lasso. No reason was given. They won’t tell me why. I’ve asked, politely and professionally. And more than once. The only answer I have received about this is to say that they officially don’t care. The typical, “we cannot help you anymore in this matter.”

This didn’t surprise me. If you follow a few YouTubers it probably won’t surprise you.

I think YouTube’s reason for not passing on my counter-notification is probably something to do with a certain threshold on how much of a video can be copyrighted content. My video was very short and most of the visuals were clips from Coriolanus, with some of the film’s audio, but mostly with my voice over. That’s just my own theory, and such a threshold isn’t acknowledged by YouTube.

I’m not really writing this to call for change (haha), but more just to document the reason my video about Coriolanus, a film that I was highlighting positively for Fienne’s impassioned performance, and a film that had a very limited release and quite limited exposure, is no longer available on YouTube.

This is the picture YouTubers use in content moaning about YouTube. Imagine a tuba, played by a sloth, petering away…

This is the picture YouTubers use in content moaning about YouTube. Imagine a tuba, played by a sloth, petering away…

I may have been a bit angry at first, but I never trusted YouTube enough to get bloody gums.

What it does mean, however, is that I can never trust YouTube to protect any of my videos, even if they do use copyrighted material in a way covered by Fair Use. Perhaps that was always clear. Boohoo.

Now I must go and wring out my hanky.