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Vice Media Had YouTube Shut Down My Gaming Channel Without Contacting Me (medium.com)
148 points by thinkingemote 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 76 comments

> Vice Media Had YouTube Shut Down My Gaming Channel Without Even Contacting Me

Shouldn't the complaint be “YouTube shut down my gaming channel at Vice’s direction without even contacting me.”?

Though I'm not sure even that is a particularly valid complaint given the authors admission that he was probably infringing the trademark: because in that case, as soon as YouTube was aware of what was going on, it was also quite likely knowingly violating trademark, and the only option that did not involve risking incurring liability was to stop doing that. Now, if there was a contractual relationship which exposed YouTube to parallel liability risk for cutting of a channel for potential infringement improperly, then they'd have to carefully weigh their action, but like every online service provider of broad public services, they've structured their contracts well to minimize liability risk for actions against their users based on site policy or legal compliance issues even when the decision is ultimately erroneous, so there's a definite assymetry in disputes even where the who is in the right is a 50/50 tossup from the info available to YouTube. Or even where the complaining party is most likely wrong, as a small risk of large damage is still a significant risk.

Note that the author has zero proof of any of this. He just knows that his channel was deleted, and assumes everything written there. The correct approach would've been to contact Youtube and understand the situation. Since the content has nothing to do with Vice, I honestly don't see why Youtube would want to take down the content. Seeing that the channel is back up, it seems like it was indeed a misunderstanding and it has been resolved.

"Seeing that the channel is back up, it seems like it was indeed a misunderstanding and it has been resolved"

A more cynical view would be that contacting YouTube has little effect. Being publicly noisy with speculation works better.

I would normally agree in cases where creators try to contact Youtube for a week, fail, and post on social media. But in this case, we have no way of knowing since the author went straight to speculation and social media.

There's plenty of way bigger channel that had to go public because they had no point of contact with Youtube that would answer them.

I often saw people on Reddit refer other youtuber to H3H3 because they did have great contact with Youtube (sadly because they were often victims of how Youtube deal with that kind of stuff).

> The correct approach would've been to contact Youtube and understand the situation.

From the article: "I haven’t heard back from YouTube yet on the appeal I submitted."

YouTube and Google in general are notorious for not having easy-to-reach support.

> I awoke this morning

Posted March 1st morning.

Maybe that's true, or maybe there's a bias where we only hear online about cases where Youtube was slow. Hard to verify, but in this case it seems like the author didn't even wait before posting.

There is no such thing as YouTube customer support. At best they send you to an Indian or Filipino call center that just wastes your time.

To even get the contemplation that a company did something wrong here, this company has to murder someone and dance on his grave in public. HN is blind on that eye.

Nevermind that such dismisal conjurs up the possibility of enforced customer reachability via state regulation, but hey, at least they lived the neo_lib.a dream while it blasted.

> Note that the author has zero proof of any of this ml

Well, yeah, I was focussing on problems with the complaint under the assumption, made for the same of discussion, that the authors interpretation of the factual events were entirely accurate.

But, vice is a company that sells authenticity and a “we are one of the people” vibe. Google is already known to be vacuous.

> given the authors admission that he was probably infringing the trademark

I'm not sure he's right about that.

This discussion seems as good as any to post this related tweet: https://twitter.com/megtra/status/1101294091214573568

> Hey @YouTube you just booted me out of my youtube & all my google accounts for "impersonating" someone. My legal name IS Meghan Trainor. My website: http://meghantrainor.com with several decades of articles about my work. I can't even access the form to correct this! Help!

(Meghan Trainor is also the name of a popular singer/songwriter)

To YouTube's credit, they are responding via that Twitter (after 12+ hours). Amusingly they ask her to "send us a link to your channel URL or a video that you've posted in the past" and she can't because her Google account was also apparently suspended.

> I don’t keep backups of my content

I think I see the biggest problem here.

Part of the appeal for YouTube is that there's no storage limit or associated costs.

I've spoken to YouTubers who started off keeping backups but quickly realized it was nowhere near cost effective for them to do so. And even if you do pay enough to keep those backups around, there's no way to back up the links themselves. For some videos it doesn't matter whether you reupload them or not, if it's not available at the original link it might as well still be dead.

What about sending a copy of the finished video to archive.org, and (once you've gotten enough episodes/videos uploaded) applying to have you own Collection? (see https://help.archive.org/hc/en-us/articles/360016399952-Coll...)

> …if it's not available at the original link it might as well still be dead.

True, I can believe that, and this doesn't help that.

> I've spoken to YouTubers who started off keeping backups but quickly realized it was nowhere near cost effective for them to do so.

Because 1 TB drives are expensive?

I realize that wasn't always the case (look, I'm old enough to remember when a 5 MB hard drive cost close to $10k for a personal computer system) - but I still think it's a bad excuse. If the data is important enough to put up for others, then it's important enough to back up (even if only the edited and compressed version).

Today, it makes no sense at all not to keep a backup. Even using DropBox or Google Drive is plenty cheap.

Your other points do stand, however.

Some of the creators on Youtube are recording in RAW 8K footage. A few 1TB drives will not make a dent in their capacity needs.

You can't download the source file from youtube, so if redownloading from youtube is good enough then you clearly don't need to back up the source file either.

Fools and their money. If your only product is uploads to youtube, 8k is massive overkill. 4k is overkill. For the vast majority of content, even 1080p is overkill.

Spend that money on microphones and editing equipment.

Lighting and sound are definitely more important. Under many circumstances a good sounding well lit 720 (or even 480) video is better than an average 1080 video. That does mean that 1080 or 4k is overkill though. Especial if the content includes a lot of detail shots or text.

You don't need to back up all of the source material. The final product is good enough for most cases.

Backblaze B2 is $0.005 / GB / month [0]. 1 TB of backup is $5 / month. Downloads are $0.01 / GB, so a one-time recovery of 1 TB is $10.

How much raw content (in GB) does a typical Youtube content creator actually have?

[0]: https://www.backblaze.com/b2/cloud-storage-pricing.html

I don't know the numbers exactly, but I can look at one in particular. Looks like an average of 7 videos a day at 30-60 minutes each and 60fps/1080p. That's for the last year or two at least, and overall they've been doing this for the last 8-9 years. Oh, and 4 weekly 3 hour vods exported to YouTube for archival, should be approximately the same quality settings.

> 7 videos a day at 30-60 minutes each

I think you're looking at a very extreme end of the spectrum here. Is this channel a large company focused on pushing out content? Because I have a hard time imagining how an independent creator can churn out an average of 5 hours of video a day, every day, for years on end - unless they're just wearing a GoPro and streaming their daily life.

Most YouTubers I follow seem to post a 10-20 minutes video a few times a week, and even that probably counts as very active. E.g. PewDiePie, likely the most successful creator on Youtube at the moment, posts a ~15 minute video every day.

It is a one man channel, though there are collaborative videos on a regular basis, each posted on all respective participants' channels.

He does have a manager for non video production workloads, (sponsorships mostly) but otherwise yes, that is how much content is released daily.

He's definitely the highest volume of the ones I've heard that statement from, but not by as large a margin as you might think.

Also on top of that he does appear in some of his wife's videos without uploading to his own channel in an attempt to build her audience as well.

EDIT: And no, it is not a go-pro lifestyle channel. It's just a dude putting in approximately 10 hours of work a day every day. He takes vacations a few times a year but otherwise is just constantly working and putting out content. He has also started taking off Saturdays and shuffling work around to fit that, so it might be longer than 10 hours now.

Cheap option is a new gsuite account and take advantage of the unlimited storage. Even assuming they start enforcing the five user minimum it’s still a great price.

But the key is to use an account that’s not tied in any way to the account used on YouTube.

It does seem some you tubers are starting to do this. Only annoying thing is there’s a 750gig upload cap per day.

The main failure mode for a YouTube channel is being locked out of your Google account. And Google have been known to lockout associated accounts as well.

Storing your YouTube backups with a Google account definitely does not count as an off site backup.

Google isn't going to shut down a gsuite account you are part of because your youtube account was closed. If you're that worried, pay the 100 bucks or so for an LLC, setup gsuite under that name and well that's about it. Never said it counted as an off site backup either, just that it's a good solution to dump video too.

If a conflict arises Google will just close the entire account and you lose access to everything connected to it. People have lost their gmail address, play store account etc.

So you’re trying to say if an employee of a company has their personal account deleted google will take down the company gsuite? Please.

They have done so for not so famous companies & developers/past-clients linked with closed accounts. So unless you have the weight to create buzz, it is a blackhole for most people if they are in crosshairs ever.

There was this group of folks who bought stolen pixels(unknowingly) & all of their gmail accounts got suspended & only after much hoopla did they manage to get it back.

This has literally happened and been on HN multiple times.

Google is well known to be aggressive in closing related accounts.

Channel seems to be back? Or am I missing something, clicking on the "old channel" link seems to show a bunch of videos.

I think it literally might have just gone back up. The discord is discussing it this very minute.

Somebody tell the author about youtube-dl.

Even at the highest quality, you'd only be getting Youtube's post-compression copies of the videos, no?

Yes...but right now the author doesn't even have that much, so anything should be a win...

Better than nothing.

If the user still has access to the account, Google Takeout lets you download the original videos IIRC.

It irks me how, with most of these take down controversies, the creator doesn't even try contacting Youtube anymore. They go straight to making a big fiery video and post it on all social media sites. They always have bold claims with zero proof.

I don't understand how the author can just assume the cause and intent of this take down when he hasn't even contacted Youtube yet. To me it sounds like a misunderstanding or bug.

It is entirely appropriate. Google in general has famously terrible support, even for paying users, and YouTube in particular is almost never responsive to the concerns of content creators unless it becomes a PR issue.

Public call-outs are the only option they've left, so it's unquestionably what they deserve.

I've heard multiple content creators express their displeasure with effectively not being able to get a response via any support channels. These are people with plaques on their walls from YouTube for meeting subscriber thresholds, not a dude with 2 views on all their videos.

If you have years of experience sending support queries to /dev/null, at what point is it okay to just start assuming it's a waste of time? 2 attempts? 10? 50?

Near the end of the post, the author does say:

> I haven’t heard back from YouTube yet on the appeal I submitted.

To be fair, we don't know how much time has elapsed between submitting the appeal and making the Medium post.

The post says:

> I awoke this morning to a barrage of messages from fans of mine wondering where my content had gone.

Since this blog post was posted today, it seems like not very long.

Have you ever tried contacting Google?

Yes! It's a completely awesome and dehumanizing experience, and achieved nothing.

Who are they going to contact? Does Google/YouTube have a Customer Service Department? From everything I've read, no, they don't.

If you're a Youtube Partner, you have a point of contact at Youtube assigned to you.

Google (and YouTube specifically) have customer support so atrocious it's literally driven at least one user to a murderous mass-shooting rage.

That's a level of cost externalisation that dumps risk and impacts not only on users, but employees and innocent bystanders of the company in question.


Contacting Google on virtually any matter, as a non-paying or paying customer, is exceedingly difficult and an abysmally poor experience.

Seems like the most effective way to get one's channel back.

Author stated he made an appeal to YouTube. Read article.

Every single content creator needs to host all their videos on something that is more under their control. People need to learn how to setup PeerTube instances. I realize people are afraid they close loose subscribers/revenue, but trust me, the people who prefer PeerTube are most likely running adblockers anyway.

Always host your video on an alternative network you pay someone for and have regular backups of. The time is coming when YouTube will not be a viable place for creators.

I can't see how PeerTube isn't a non-starter. Aside from being much worse of a cesspit of porn, white supremacists, and other things you don't want your kids finding without having you there to explain what's going on (and yeah, you're gonna say "but you can filter it!"--you can, I can, people can't), it has no reasonable-person-testable model for creatives to actually pay their bills, both through lack of reach and lack of accessibility. (Which is to say--the adpocalypse is real, but most creatives aren't finding Patreon supporters on ye olde PeerTube.)

(Aside: if your proposed model includes the word "cryptocurrency," you fail, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars. Rent and taxes are denominated in real money, thou must do likewise.)

For all the huge, gaping problems that YouTube has, and right now in another thread I'm going to the mat on exactly that, centralization won and will continue to win and so we need to use the big lever (y'know, the "being in a society" one) to fix what's centralized, not expect people to scatter to the four winds of irrelevance.

>> centralization won and will continue to win and so we need to use the big lever

It may have won the current battle, but who really knows if centralization will be the norm in say 10, 20 or 50 years. There have been lots of instances where a technology or company seemed to have won only to loose to an upstart that they never saw coming. And when they loose they tend to loose big. Getting completely obliterated within a few short years. Nokia and BlackBerry phones are relevant examples.

If you die in the short term you can't come back 10, 20 or 50 years later.

YouTube is as bad as any other tube when it comes to content you don't want you cold to be exposed to. Algorithms suggesting videos make this even worse.

> I realize people are afraid they close loose subscribers/revenue, but trust me, the people who prefer PeerTube are most likely running adblockers anyway.

Doesn’t this just validate their fears?

It depends whether your fear is about money or about censorship/visibility.

Agreed. In fact, this is why I always host my own work wherever possible, then syndicate it to third party platforms afterwards. That way, everything stops with me. Not Google, not YouTube, not Medium or Twitter, me.

Are there risks? Sure, self hosting your work can always be risky, and there's always the possibility someone genuinely will want to take legal action.

But many, many more won't. Many more know full well that they don't have a legal leg to stand on when it comes to takedowns of YouTube videos or what not. YouTube and other platforms not giving a damn about fair use is a gold mine for large companies and unscrupulous actors.

Self hosting avoids that, and makes those with questionable ethics (like say, Vice Media in this example) actually think 'do we really believe we've got enough of a case here' before trying to strike down criticism or what not.

Oh, and the time is coming? No, YouTube already isn't a viable place for many creators.

>The time is coming when YouTube will not be a viable place for creators.

Looks to me like it already is.

Creators go where the market is. If that wasn't the case, they'd be hosting on Dailymotion or Metacafe.

The question is whether it is viable for creators to earn a living through YouTube, or even to just host their content. With YouTube randomly shutting down channels and demonetizing at the drop of a hat, it's clear that it is no longer suitable for either of these cases.

As things are now, there is no other "market creators will go to" since I don't believe Dailymotion or Metacafe are viable either.


Tell that to the thousands of creators who pay their bills with YouTube money...

"The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed yet."

Before the first adpocalypse, more people could live off Youtube revenue than do now. Youtube is going through the third or fourth adpocalypse. Those who can still live off Youtube are lucky, and should be looking to diversify their income. For everyone else, there's places like Patreon.

I love this phrase

There are stages of adpocalypse?

Surely ad blocking would mimic the slow growth rates of browser adoption.

The YouTube adpocalypse wasn't just about ad blocking. YouTube has gone through multiple rounds of "you can't monetize", or "you can't be a partner anymore", or similar ways of cutting people off.

I don't know of any other video platform that pays Youtube money

I don't either and I assume there aren't any. The thing I would recommend to anyone living off of Youtube revenue is to diversify so you're not left with nothing if your channel gets taken down or demonitized.

Diversify to what, though? A portfolio of Treasury bonds and Monopoly money is not meaningfully diversified. If there is no other way to monetize video content than YouTube, there's no meaningful diversification you can do. You either have to eat the risk or leave the market.

I think he meant diversify "markets"... A.k.a work a part time job or something so in the event that your youtube revenue is nuked (as is happening more and more frequently), you'll still have a meaningful source of income (Many part time jobs have the ability to increase your hours as well if necessary).

That sort of "diversifying" is potentially not very practical - video production takes a lot of time and effort, so either you cut your output there to have time for a part-time job (is the part-time job giving you as much money per hour as the extra work you could have put into making more videos?) or you're now working a job and a half.

If you can make more from YouTube ads and per-video Patreon subscribers than you could by cutting your video production by half to fit in a part-time job, it might make more sense to stick to just videos but keep tabs on local part-timer opportunities. Less stable, but a higher net income until your channel goes down -> more able to last until you can get a part-time job? Not sure; I've been lucky enough not to have to worry about that sort of thing, so this is mostly speculation.

For video game streamers a lot of people diversify into a mix of twitch streaming, youtube videos, and patreon subscriptions, but it's not obvious that this is a viable path for the majority of youtube content creators.

Youtube already screwed their creators before the whole mess with the ads and made it less and less viable to make a living from revenues on their platform. Most creators who do this for a living have switched to something like a direct contribution-based system. Youtube’s seen and inderstood this, seeing as how they slowly started implementing these payment features themselves.

As a platform for making a living the company is completely untrustworthy: they are impossible to contact, quick to act and deceitful. I wouldn’t trust them with my livelihood myself. I mean, they were caught sending robotic replies in response to support complaints disguised as legitimate messages, what else do they have to do to prove to creators that they’re only good for hosting but the revenue has to come from somewhere else and a direct line of contact needs to exist towards fans in case they decide to randomly disappear your channel?

This is why I have "ANIMATS" as a registered trademark.

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