YouTomb: Where Copyrighted YouTube Videos Rests in Peace

YouTomb is a website created by MIT Free Culture (a student organization in MIT) that tracks videos taken down from YouTube for alleged copyright violation. We all know that there is a very large amount of videos currently uploaded in YouTube that violates copyright laws. Some of them we never got to see because they have been taken down almost instantly after hitting the YouTube pages while some are taken down after gaining popularity and the original content owner decides to pull the plug.

YouTomb catalogs most of the popular videos which are already taken down. If you are thinking that you can watch the videos in YouTomb then you are mistaken, screen shots of the video and information about the takedown is as close as you can get to the buried videos. If that is the case then you may be wondering what the point is. Ever since YouTube decided to automate its takedown process for copyrighted audios and videos, MIT Free Culture became interested on how the YouTube takedown algorithm works. The goal of this project is to identify how YouTube recognizes potential copyright violations as well as to aggregate mistakes made by the algorithm. Basically, anyone can file a DMCA takedown notification at any time that cause YouTube to immediately remove alleged infringing content. If the algorithm makes a mistake then this will usually cause inconvenience to the person submitting the video and the users of YouTube.

How the YouTube takedown algorithm works as explained by the MIT Free Culture Team:

Many rights holders believe that videos uploaded to YouTube damage their business or income stream. As such, rights holders can submit their works to a database of copyrighted work to be fingerprinted. Whenever YouTube’s automated system finds a matching fingerprint (or part of the fingerprint), it notifies the rights holder. At that point, the rights holder can optionally take down the video.

Since YouTube is the most popular video hosting site in the internet, it is good to know that there is a group like MIT Free Culture who takes interest in keeping tabs and constantly checking system faults. This will provide information for developing better systems and algorithms for startups and existing web services.

3 Comments on “YouTomb: Where Copyrighted YouTube Videos Rests in Peace

  1. I didn’t even realize YouTube used a special algorithm to check potential copyright violation.
    It’s interesting how this new site (YouTomb) is setup to analyze and report on how correct and effective this algorithm is, which would benefit YouTube in the long run, if they took note of this report as a way for them to improve on their service and processes/algorithm.

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