I’m back! Check out the details here. Thanks for all your support!
Here’s what I’ve learned so far. My first account was canceled in early Feb. when the Tom Cruise tape was zipping around the world. Scientology found it on a private YouTube account and I got a takedown notice for it about at the same time I got a takedown notice from Viacom for a Stephen Colbert clip in which he goofed on Scientology. Before I could act on the takedown notices and remove the offending clips, the accounts were canceled.
I lost the xenutv account and all my uploaded clips about Scientology. I started over on xenutv1 and uploaded only my own self produced clips, making sure to not have any copyrighted material on the account.
About a week later, the Anonymous movement started in response to YouTube’s removal of the Tom Cruise tape. I started getting contacted by people asking me about this so I made a video about Anonymous urging them to not break the law and to instead use legal and peaceful means to protest Scientology. I thought they would ignore or attack me but instead they heard my message and understood what I was saying.
My first channel had about 3000 subscribers when it was yanked. In about two months, the new channel had reached 10,000 subscribers thanks to Anonymous. Many of my videos received high honors on YouTube and a lot of media attention was drawn to them and to me. The media wanted to know about Anonymous and I became the wise bearded face the media could go to get some answers about the group.
While my website xenutv.com has been very successful over the past years, YouTube brought in a new set of viewers and a new way to interact with those viewers. It was very exciting to be a part of it.
Last weekend I released the tease for my interview with Jason Beghe. That became my most successful clip yet, reaching over 595,000 views before my channel was canceled on Thursday afternoon.
My friend Tory Christman let me put a video on her channel about the takedown. At that point I hadn’t heard anything from YouTube as to why it had happened. Just two days prior, Tory’s account has been suspended and she hadn’t been told why. People complained to YouTube and her account was put back up. But not before someone bragged on alt.religion.scientology that they had gotten Tory’s channel removed and they were coming after mine next.
Then mine was gone. The obvious assumption is that Scientology was behind it.
People complained to YouTube about my account. YouTube got so much pressure that they called me to explain the situation. They told me because my first account was canceled I am not supposed to have had a second account. When it was brought to their attention that I had the second account, they took it down. They say the timing was a coincindence.
YouTube refused to tell me who complained about my second account. They said it wasn’t Scientology but they wouldn’t say who it was which I find odd. They told me who complained about my first account but not the second account.
They told me if Viacom would retract two DMCA complaints at my first account, they would happily reinstate both my YouTube channels.
“Scientology: Is Will Smith a Scientologist?” (Colbert Clip )
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMghKAiwWJM Submitted January 15, 2008, no notice ID.
“Scientology: Wag of the Finger” (Colbert clip on Scientology)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnYtsQ5yaEg Submitted February 2, 2007, BayTSP notice ID: 158-8236
I never saw the January 15th notice which has no notice ID.
In asking Viacom to retract the complaints, I’m not asking to keep the clips on YouTube. I simply never had the chance to taken them down before the account was canceled. Since then Viacom has come up with a great solution for bloggers. We can now embed these same clips on our sites and Viacom can sell an ad when people watch them. I have no problem with that at all. It gives me the content and Viacom the profit they deserve.
I don’t blame either YouTube or Viacom for this. Both are within their rights. But I’m asking Viacom to retract the complaints because I think my channel is worth keeping on YouTube. In the past few months, it has been an important factor in this whole ongoing story of Anonymous. It’s a story widely reported around the world. YouTube is in the very DNA of the story and my channel was a part of that. I can post my videos on any number of other sites and they will continue to be seen. People will find them, I know.
But I’d miss YouTube and I’d like to think that maybe in a small way they might miss me too.
UPDATE: Sunday Noon
Lots of people are offering me their accounts and suggesting I post the videos elsewhere. I appreciate all the suggestions and the time you are taking to contact people on my behalf.
Yes, there are plenty of other video sites out there and I have many other accounts. Yes, the videos are being uploaded now to other sites and yes, you are welcome to spread them virally and get them everywhere. I will tell you where the videos are on Monday. A couple media outlets will have them as well.
I would still love to have my YouTube account back. Viacom and YouTube are not in the wrong. I understand they don;t want to set precedent with their actions but I don’t think they would be.
Had I had the chance to remove the offending Stephen Colbert clips, I would have. Before I could react to the takedown notice, the account had been canceled. I am not asking Viacom to allow me to keep the Colbert clips on YouTube while making everyone else take them off their accounts. I’m asking Viacom to essentially give me the time to remove the offending clips and comply with the DMCA notice.
YouTube says it was a repeat offense that caused the takedown but I only got one takedown notice from Viacom. The other may have gotten lost in transit. YouTube could give me no notice ID on the January 15th DMCA request.
If I had a chance to respond and remove the clip, they would have not have had to delete the first account. I’m asking for a chance to comply. They don’t have to give me the chance and it wouldn’t make them an evil company. I’m hoping we can work this out and still fall within their policies.
I can go elsewhere. But I think there is some greater good if I were to be given the chance to remain a part of their service.
UPDATE: Monday Noon
I received this e-mail today:
Subject: DMCA Notice
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2008 10:33:41 -0700
CC: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
After reviewing the Comedy Central clips it has been determined that the postings on your YouTube channel were clearing infringing. Retractions will not be issued for the notices sent.