22 May


by Michelle Lentz 

This is not a silly play on words by me; instead, it’s a play on words by the folks involved with MIT FreeCulture, a student organization at MIT. I stumbled across YouTomb by accident today and while it’s not an app, it is a rather fascinating look at YouTube and the items it has removed.

YouTomb lists videos removed from YouTube for copyright complaint. You can’t view the videos – they’re gone – but you can see a screen capture, who requested the removal, and how long it was posted before it was removed, which is the really interesting part.

YouTomb continually monitors the most popular videos on YouTube for copyright-related takedowns. Any information available in the metadata is retained, including who issued the complaint and how long the video
was up before takedown. The goal of the project is to identify how YouTube recognizes potential copyright violations as well as to aggregate mistakes made by the algorithm. 

It’s interesting to see that some clips stay live between 100-500 days before they’re caught and removed.

MIT Freeculture became interested in the copyright infringement issue after YouTube anounced that it uses an automated filtering technology to search for near-matches on copyrighted material. The automated process can result in perfectly innocent videos being removed. Although based on the amount of concert footage I’ve seen on YouTube, it also misses a lot of things.

You know, I never realized there were so many clips from the WWE and from Full House posted on YouTube. Who knew?

YouTomb exists to educate others on fair use and copyright issues, as well as serve as a watchdog organization. It’s an interesting look at copyright and YouTube, and definitely worth exploring a little.

Let me know if there are any apps, gadgets, or if there’s news you want to here more about. Reach me at michelle[at]writetech[dot]net or via

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    no imageProlific Programmer (Who am I?)22 May 2008 7:45 am

    The reason “some clips stay live between 100-500 days before they’re caught” is that Youtube hasn’t traditionally done any filtering itself, instead relying on content providers to alert them to copyright violations.

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