Fair use

A lot of people on YouTube have questions about copyright, which is widely misunderstood, and particularly about how the fair use doctrine relates to videos they may make.

YouTube collected some questions and put them to some experts from the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, which they answered in the video below. It’s a long video, but if you go the video watch page on YouTube and open the description, you can skip to a specific question.

YouTube accounts being linked to Google accounts

For some time now, anyone wanting a YouTube account has had to do so by creating a Google account, since YouTube is now a Google product. Other users have been encouraged to link their existing YouTube accounts with Google accounts, but until just a few days ago, this was always optional.

Now, some users have already been forced to link their accounts, and over the next few months all remaining accounts will need to be linked. You’ll know when your time has come when you see the usual notification asking you to link your accounts, but without the option to “skip for now”. This means that for every YouTube account you have, you must also have a Google account.

If you don’t link accounts, nothing much will happen, but you won’t be able to sign in to your YouTube channel.

Unfortunately, a small number of users have been experiencing some bugs preventing them from signing in after they linked their accounts. There is a workaround for this if it affects you, but YouTube is aware of the problem and working on it. From what I understand, the roll-out has been temporarily halted until the problem can be fixed, so in an ideal world, if you still haven’t been forced to link, the bug should never affect you (although nothing is ever guaranteed).

For more information on linking accounts, please check the official Help Centre article. If you’re having problems signing in after linking, you might want to read the first few posts of this Help Forum thread which explains a workaround you should be able to use until the bug is fixed.

Are you famous on YouTube yet?

I have just received an automated message via YouTube’s PM system from somebody trying to sell me a product promising to make me famous. It’s not the first time these people have tried to get my attention. Basically, it’s a bot that sends out automated messages, friend requests and the like. Ha hum.

The subject line was “Are you famous on YouTube yet?” to which I can confidently answer: In a small way, actually, yes. Not one of the big names, granted, but not exactly unknown either.

Let me take you through the message itself.

As I was exploring the never ending garbage that is the common youtuber, I stumbled upon your channel. You sir are one of the few people that can make a decent, watchable video. That is why I’m letting you in on something very powerful.

Well, quite a few people write to tell me they think I am one of the few people that can make a decent, watchable video, but they at least address my by name. The really serious ones address me by my real name, but the fact that you don’t even bother to call me “rewboss” makes me doubt that you wrote this message especially for me, so when you say that you “stumbled upon my channel”, you are, in fact, lying. You did get “sir” right, but that’s an odds-on bet anyway.

Lets [sic] be honest, it’s going to take you a loooong time to become famous on youtube. And I think you deserve a little more viewers + subscribers than you currently have.

Ah, so you think my videos are wonderful, yet at the same time you doubt my ability to become famous by virtue of making wonderful video.

How would you rather have it? Would you like a much simpler legal way of getting famous automatically? Wouldn’t that be wonderful for you?

I don’t know what planet you live on, but in the real world, fame is never automatic. Infamy is.

Well then, let me encourage you to take a look at the only youtube approved program (seriously, youtube approved it) up-to-date that helps you automate all your daily stuff (eg. adding friends, subscribing people, sending out messages, sending out videos) all at a proper interval for you.

This is where it gets interesting.

First of all, you claim that your software is approved by YouTube. I think that what you mean by that is that you don’t believe (or, more accurately, don’t want us to believe) that this is against YouTube’s terms of service — more on that later — but what you imply is that YouTube has released some kind of official statement saying that your software is approved. That’s not the same thing at all. Having looked at your website, I can’t see anything that even hints at that — not even a link to a press release or anything. And there’s nothing anywhere on YouTube recommending your software.

Second, there’s this thing about “proper interval”. I think this refers to this extract from YouTube’s terms and conditions, which you quote on your own site:

You agree not to use or launch any automated system, including without limitation, “robots,” “spiders,” or “offline readers,” that accesses the Website in a manner that sends more request messages to the YouTube servers in a given period of time than a human can reasonably produce in the same period by using a conventional on-line web browser.

So you then make the case that if I keep to within the limits YouTube imposes (in order to fight exactly the kind of spam you are encouraging), I am not in breach of YouTube’s terms of service. Which is complete nonsense.

So your software is programmed to send individual messages at pre-determined intervals in order to “comply” with the rules. Except that keeping to the automatically imposed limits doesn’t mean a human could “reasonably produce” the same number of messages and requests “in the same period”. Some of us do have to eat, sleep and use the bathroom.

Also, on reading your site, I notice that many of the data you have on YouTube’s automatic limits are best guesses. Odd, considering that you are “YouTube approved”, that YouTube neglected to supply you with that data.

Of course, what you are not telling people is that the terms of service are also deemed to include the Community Guidelines, which have this to say on the subject of spam:

It’s not okay to post large amounts of untargeted, unwanted or repetitive content, including comments and private messages.

And that is exactly what your little machine does, is it not?

While we’re on the subject, if your software doesn’t violate YouTube’s rules, I have a few questions for you:

  1. Why are you PMing me from a channel that was only created yesterday? And why do you always spam message me from a different account?
  2. Why do you have to warn your users that their channels can get suspended if too many people report their messages as spam?
  3. Why do you recommend that users register secondary accounts to use your software with and not to use it from their main accounts?
  4. Why do you have to keep releasing “emergency updates” whenever YouTube tries to stay ahead of the spambot game?

Just asking.

Quite simply put, this program would solve all your misery on youtube and boost you to fame (: It won’t happen overnight as they have to comprehend to youtube’s stated interval terms, but over time (1 month+), you can expect to hit your first 3,000 subscribers :)

It may have escaped your notice (because you didn’t stumble on my channel, as we have already established), but I already have more than 3,000 subscribers.

By the way, anyone who equates “not being famous on YouTube” with “misery” really needs to get out more.

I can’t give you a ballpark figure on how many people you’d need to spam to get 3,000 of them to subscribe within a month, but I’m thinking tens of thousands, because, as the Community Guidelines point out, everybody hates spam. Unfortunately, you don’t give any kind of pricing information on your site, but I note that you do charge a monthly fee. I wonder how much it is compared to the amount of extra money I’d make.

All in all, basically, I wouldn’t touch your product with a bargepole. But thanks for your interest.

YT redirect bug fix aborted

For once I escalated a bug, and our contact got Engineering to start work on an immediate fix. Some people had reported an odd issue where clicking on a video thumbnail took them not, as expected, to that video, but to the YouTube homepage. A nasty enough bug for the engineers to want to fix right away.

And then the unthinkable happened: a huge gas explosion in San Bruno forced the evacuation of YouTube’s offices. It’s not a laughing matter: apparently, dozens of homes have been destroyed.

About four or five hours later, there is still at least a YouTube in existence. But that bugfix is likely to be slightly delayed, so if you’re affected, please be patient just a little longer.

YouTube video errors

I have here a few notes from YouTube-land for the benefit of worried uploaders.

First of all, there have been a lot of problems recently with some videos being corrupted, suddenly doubling in duration (often taking it past the 15-minute limit for non-partners) and/or suffering problems with the audio. These videos are now in the process of being fixed, although it’s going to take some time to get through them all.

Secondly, some people are apparently seeing an internal server error when trying to watch videos from their own “My videos” page. If you’re having this problem, don’t panic — your videos are still live and everyone can still see them. A fix for this bug is in the works, we’re told.