How to Find YouTube Videos in Violation of Copyright

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As far as online video is concerned… if it’s not on YouTube, then it’s not a video. I publish all my videos to YouTube, along with a few other places. I’ve been publishing videos for several years, but never found a place that offers me more than YouTube does. I definitely have to give a shoutout to Kat, who does all my video encoding and uploading for me. She makes my job a heck of a lot easier, definitely.


What happens when a video is yanked off of YouTube, due to alleged copyright infringement? Does it disappear forever? Being that it’s digital media, it will just crop up elsewhere. If you kill one, three others will pop up in its place. This is what sparked the YouTomb project.

YouTomb is a research project by MIT Free Culture that tracks videos taken down from YouTube for alleged copyright violation. More specifically, YouTomb continually monitors the most popular videos on YouTube for copyright-related take downs. Any information available in the metadata is retained, including who issued the complaint and how long the video was up before take down. The goal of the project is to identify how YouTube recognizes potential copyright violations as well as to aggregate mistakes made by the algorithm.


When a user-submitted video is suspected to infringe copyright, the rights holder is contacted and given the option to take down the video in question. In addition, rights holders can submit DMCA take down notifications at any time that cause YouTube to immediately remove alleged infringing content. MIT Free Culture became especially interested in the issue after YouTube announced that it would begin using filtering technology to scan users’ video and audio for near-matches with copyrighted material. While automating the take down process may make enforcement easier, it also means that content falling under fair-use exceptions and even totally innocuous videos may receive some of the collateral damage.


These videos are not available for viewing/downloading. Once again, this is simply a research project that seeks to find out more details about how YouTube locates and takes down videos accused of copyright violation. If you believe your video was wrongfully taken down (it falls under fair use, or it contains no copyrighted material), you can file a DMCA counter-claim to have your video restored.

Very cool project.

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