Rat caps on, thumbing our way to Gainesville.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

YouTube and Florida Football

UPDATE, 10/27, 12:55 AM: Over at, dinkaflicka says this whole thing must be "nonsense" because it's not "Collegiate Sports," but "Collegiate Images." I checked my friendly YouTube infringement email and sure enough, I've been calling it the wrong name. I've changed it in the post below, on the off chance anyone at Collegiate IMAGES happens to blog their corporate moniker, incredibly descriptive it be. Thanks Dink; now if they google themselves they'll find me, the sonsabitches.

(Everyone will be thrilled to know I got it right in my legal counter-notice; I just garbled it in my original blog post.)

I got a DMCA Complaint yesterday from YouTube saying that "Collegiate Images, LLC" claims I'm violating their copyright for my video entitled "BrowardBeach" and containing the tags "browardbeach" "florida" "football" etc... The video itself is a 15-second clip of my buddy Matt running around Broward Beach like a goofball, then falling over behing a construction trailer (this is in 2002, when they were building the outdoor hockey rink).

I do a bit of research on the DMCA and YouTube's letter to me, and fire back a counter-notice that "Collegiate Images, LLC" is wrong - in the counter-notice I'm required to accept service of process on any potential suit and concede jurisdiction to the District Court. Okay, I know what that means and I'm not a college kid who's going to be scared off by this kind of letter.

In my counter-notice I'm charitable... I suggest that the complex computer algorithm they probably used to find videos that infringe on their own legitimate copyrights must've made a mistake; or my friend Matt's drunken stumbling accidentally has a similar digital thumb-print to one of their videos.

Then I mention it to a friend who reminds me of Occam's Razor and says, "They probably just blasted a DMCA complaint to anyone with "florida" and "football" as tags. "Wouldn't that be 'bad faith' under the DMCA?" Three of us debate the issue at lunch today. When I get back to the office I decide to search for "florida football" on YouTube, and lo and behold, a seemingly large number of them "have been removed for copyright infringement."

Now most of these look to be TV broadcasts, uploaded (you can often see the network bug or a scoreboard graphic on the screencap/icon (even thought the vid itself is not available)). Those cases are almost definitely infringement... but I can see the 'fair use' argument too depending on how one uses the clip, its length, etc. I'm not really that worried about THAT part of it. What I think is a really low blow is the blast-faxing these letters on tons of clearly un-infringing videos. Clearly, that is, if one actually looks at them.

I can see lots of videos that've been taken down that look like home-movies: one of the Gator Walk, for example. DMCA allows for attorney's fees for any party acting in bad faith. Aren't we talking about mass bad-faith? How accurate is blast-faxing letters to everyone with 'florida' and 'football' in their tags? Can you say 'class-action?' I knew you could. Of course there's really no 'damages' so why bother to get a class together? Just put our home movies back up, YT.

I won't give you legal advice, but if you want to see what my counternotice looks like, let me know.

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