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Sunday 10 June 2007

Malicious theft of video

Within a few hours of me uploading my video about the Naked Bike Ride to YouTube, someone had uploaded it to a video-sharing site.

They hadn’t just uploaded it. They had cut off the first 60 seconds and, more importantly, they had cut off the last few seconds — the part which includes the address of my website and the copyright symbol.

Although I have a logo all the way through, the picture quality was so crappy by the time it had been encoded to Flash Video by YouTube and then again by the second site that the site URL was barely readable.

There was no link to, nor mention of, my website in the text that accompanied the video, although the person had copied my text description about the subject of the video.

Within a couple of hours the butchered video had been viewed 21,953 times. Compare that to 226 views of the complete video on YouTube and 114 views on Blip.tv, both of which I uploaded myself.

To all those people who claim that this kind of theft benefits the maker with ‘free publicity’, this is the reality. That malicious person had deliberately denied me even a few clicks to my website. I spent hours shooting and editing the vid and then someone came along and took it, just like a mugger might grab your mobile phone out of your hands in the street.

I don’t mind people embedding and sharing my videos if the use is completely non-commercial (sites that have any kind of ads including from Google are commercial in my opinion) and providing the video stays as I made it. Sometimes I use music that requires me to include a credit. So, it’s really not right if that credit is chopped off too. Also I believe I have a responsibility to the people who appear in the videos I make. I don’t want a bit clipped out and ‘mashed up’ out of context.

I don’t agree with Creative Commons for several reasons (for a start the licence can’t be revoked). Traditional copyright gives people the freedom to issue whatever kind of licence they choose. But many don’t seem to realise this.

My main concern is that I don’t want sleazy big business media corporations making a buck out of my efforts when they should be paying professionals a living wage to do it.

Well, it’s just sad when your most-viewed video is one that has been butchered like this. So, what are the options? Bigger, more invasive logos and copyright notices? Or maybe stop putting videos online completely? Or just accept that occasionally someone will abuse your good faith?

Lately I’ve been looking at the stats and there is a lot of interest in the text on the site and not much in the videos. Take Bargain Hunters: Big Brother Special which has been online for a year. It has had 168 views on YouTube, 705 on Blip.tv and probably another 100 views of the video file hosted on my own server.

So about 1000 views in a whole year. It took me at least ten hours to edit it and create the effects. Not really worth the effort in other words.

This is the truth behind online video. You may be lucky enough to have one video that goes viral but, overall, no one is watching. Don’t believe me? Well check out the official YouTube channel for Ten Downing Street. The Prime Minister no less. Millions of views? No, some clips have been up for a month and have been watched just 1,300 times.

The British media isn’t hunting out interesting stuff. They’re lazy. It’s easier just to link to the same old, usually American, poster children for online video. And of course to big-media friends.

Having a clip removed can be a time-consuming and annoying business. I have to prove I am the owner and write a letter to the site. It’s wrong. I’m not a big company trying to use copyright to screw everyone and prevent them having fun. I’m an individual who tries to scratch a small living from what I create.

But glad to report that this time the video was removed by the video sharing site in question and very promptly.


Filed under: Net & technology,The media,Video-making — GS @ 11:47 am

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