We were advised recently by Youtube that our account http://www.youtube.com/urbanelitepr had been suspended / terminated due to a third copywright violation.
To be clear, the purpose of our Youtube account is only to highlight videos & tracks of our clients, agreed in advance with our clients that we would host certain videos for a variety of reasons. Often they will use their own channel to host & we will use that link, but on occasion it’s mutually agreed to be beneficial that we would do so.
Therefore, we are either sent the mp4 of the video from the official copywright holder, or we may perhaps design a specific audio slide, again with the owner of copywright’s full consent.
We are not an online tv channel or blog and therefore have no vested interest in uploading material from any other source. It is purely a facility to assist our clients where required.
We have chosen to highlight this for a number of reasons. The main one being that if anyone were to check our old account, the impression given would be that this company knowingly acted in breach of copywright, which is tantamount to defamation of character and our lawyers have been contacted about this.
Secondly, we are also aware of other innocent parties experiencing the same problems, and it highlights a major flaw in Youtube’s administration system.
We would start by saying that we acknowledge the huge positive benefit Youtube has had for millions of people all over the world, and how this has helped independent artists develop their careers, and continues to do so. However, they have no checks & balances in place for each report, and we will explain the circumstances surrounding our own suspension. Note we have documented proof of all that follows.
The first infingement came via our hosting of a video “Converse” for Jair Dynast. Hazel Thornhill of eMultimedia sent us the video to host in 2007. During the campaign for Jair’s album V.I.A.L.E.N.C.E. Ms Thornhill asked that we undertake a specific promotional activity. Our assessment of the record was such that we felt it unwise to proceed, however Ms Thornhill insisted on proceeding. We agreed only on the basis that she acknowledged that we had registered our reservations, and she did so. Unfortunately our reservations proved correct, and the activity didnt have the effect Ms Thornhill would have desired. Shortly afterwards, Ms Thornhill breached the terms of the contract with ourselves and we heard nothing more from her. Some time later we received notification from Youtube that she had served a breach of copywright notice on us for hosting the video which she had previously asked us to support on our channel. Rather than contact us to ask to remove, which we would have been happy to do, she chose not to contact us given she was in breach of contract but instead decided to contact Youtube direct. At that time, we were unsure of the correct procedure to challenge the decision, and as it was the first “warning” and we knew we did not upload material without consent, we allowed the matter to pass.
The second occasion came while promoting the single New Day for UK artist Chima Anya in the autumn of 2009. The video had been hosted on Mr Anya’s own channel for some months previously. For purely promotional tactical reasons it was agreed that he would temporarily remove the video, we would host it and service the media immediately. Mr Anya sent us the mp4 video file and the tactic proved successful. Some months later, we were again advised that the video had been removed due to breach of copywright. We spoke with Mr Anya but would wish to make it clear this report was not instigated by him. The infringement was reported by Lawrence Barnes. We had no knowledge of him. On speaking with Mr Anya he acknowledged that he & Mr Barnes had an internal dispute on matters regarding the track. We cannot go into detail too much of that to be fair to the parties concerned, however it was not an issue regarding sample clearance. Mr Anya was proactive in trying to resolve the matter with Youtube as he himself could not host his own video on Youtube, but again to no avail. Clearly, from our own point if view we had acted completely innocently in uploading the video received from the artist and label owner, but were still penalized. It appears Mr Barnes decided to take a specific malicious course of action rather than negotiate with Mr Anya.
The third and ultimately decisive infringement notice was received on 23rd August 2011. It related to a video by Bizarre ft Yelawolf “Down this Road” and had been served by AVJ Records. We had been hired to promote Bizarre’s album in the summer of 2010, and again had been sent the video files by the label to upload to our Youtube channel. AVJ Records were fully aware of this as it had been mutually agreed. On receiving this notice, we immediately contacted the label to ask the reason for this. The label representative apologized and advised that as the label had just agreed a revenue partnership deal with Youtube, their ATTORNEY had done a content collateral sweep of Youtube, and reported everything that was not on AVJ Records’ own channel. They said they would do whatever they could to help reverse the decision, but it appears its a lot quicker to place an infringement than to have the decision reversed.
We went through the correct appeal process as highlighted by Youtube using the email address from which the notification of infringement was received. We received an automatic reply that as youtube could not trace the email address being related to the Youtube account, they could take no further action. We wrote to them from every email address we had but received the same message. How convenient.
At the time of writing we are unsure whether AVJ Records will be proactive in reversing Youtube’s decision. It means that we have a slant against the good name of this company, and also videos which had been live and used by artists on their own websites are no longer visible. The latter is an inconvenience but we have started a new Youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/UrbanelitePromotions and uploading the relevant videos again, obviously exclusing those where notice had been served. The former is potentially more damaging in relation to our reputation, tarnished by what appears as malicious activity in 2 cases, and administrative incompetence in another
We are aware that we are not alone in being the innocent parties in such cases, but still being penalized via loss of channel
It raises the obvious issue about Youtube’s own checks & balances per report. There is surely the premise of innocent until proven guilty. It appears that they take the word of copywright infringement from just about any source, without checking with the “accused” for a reasonable explanation. They will quickly apply an infringement penalty but the process of appeal is a lot longer & in our case, they cannot even trace the email address to which they sent the violation notice.
We support measures unreservedly to combat copywright infringement, but Youtube’s administration, or lack of it, means innocent parties can be penalized and more importantly have their good name tarnished.
We had no option but to produce this public statement given the actions of others and the illegal defamation of character that is currently presented, illegal as we have no case to answer & the documentation to back up our position
Our lawyers have been instructed to contact Youtube about this & we hope that our experience may help other who have been through similar circumstances, or act as a warning for others