Tuesday, 18 June 2019

YouTube's Threatening Tone Over Copyright

I've just had a really unpleasant experience with YouTube.

Stumbled upon an account which had ripped off a sample of the Rosy Hours audiobook. They'd changed the narration pitch to make it sound like Emma was on helium, and were offering a free download.

I'd never heard of this account before and they certainly didn't have permission to do that, so I looked up how to make a copyright infringement claim and filled out the form. I provided all of the information they asked for, along with a link to the video.

Simple, right?

The next day, I received an exceedingly intimidating e-mail from YouTube:

We are concerned that some of the information in your take-down request may be fraudulent. Please understand that YouTube receives a large number of fraudulent copyright take-down requests, and we take abuse of that process very seriously.... You understand that abuse of this form will result in termination of your YouTube account.

That's lovely. Accusing me of making a fraudulent copyright claim against someone who has - if they looked at the video - very clearly ripped off my work.

Really nasty tone to use and obviously designed to prevent anyone from raising their voice again.

Not accustomed to being bullied, I replied:

That is my book. I wrote it. It is published and owned by Ghostwoods Books. It is narrated by Emma Newman. They have changed her voice and ripped off the audiobook. They are offering it for free. This breaches my rights as an author and the publisher's rights.

I do not know the person who created that video. They do not have the right to do that as it is copyrighted material.

Don't understand where the problem is.

They very swiftly sent a reply telling me the material has been removed.

But they didn't need any additional information to do that. Everything I said in my reply was included in the original take-down request. Seems they just wanted to throw their weight around.

I've written to my union, the Society of Authors, about this to see whether it's a common issue that other writers have encountered.

YouTube's attitude seems absolutely unacceptable to me.


  1. Just to clarify - all that 'we'll cut off your account if you abuse this' gumph, was already on the original request form, so they must have reviewed the link and thought, 'I don't see a problem here, best send her a threatening e-mail. That'll help.'

  2. Have your lawyer contact them.