YouTube briefly removed Legal Insurrection video channel

The influential conservative website Legal Insurrection had its YouTube channel removed for several hours yesterday.  The company cited "complaints of copyright infrigement" as the reason.

The complaints were apparently filed by the Modern Language Association, a far-left academic organization.

YouTube took down Legal Insurrection’s Channel without any prior notice based on “multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement,” but we never received any claims of infringement.

We have lost hundreds of videos, including a lot of original content on important news subjects. You now will see disabled videos in hundreds of our posts.

I have no idea what the supposedly offending videos are. We are pretty careful when it comes to copyright, so I’m suspecting that someone about whom we posted a video made the claims.

L.I. proprietor Bill Jacobson sent YouTube sent a brilliant counter-notification, pointing out the ludicrousness of MLA's copyright claims.

Here is part of what we submitted to YouTube as a Counter-Notification stating why MLA has no copyright in the oral presentation of speakers and why YouTube should restore our account:

Please consider this a Counter-Notification, as provided under the YouTube guidelines, and, in response to a group of copyright complaints filed with YouTube by the Modern Language Association (MLA) as set forth in your prior email.

We are not aware of any copyright held by any party in connection with the videos, which consist of portions of oral remarks made by several speakers at a meeting. Any copyright that could be claimed would be owned, if at all, by the speakers themselves unless assigned by them to the MLA. MLA in its copyright complaints to YouTube claims to own the copyright itself, not an assignee. Neither the MLA nor any speaker alerted us to any copyright claim or provided us with a copyright registration.

Moreover if there is a bona fide prima facie copyright claim, our use is a fair use because it consists of less than 15 minutes of material, cumulatively for several 1-2 minute excerpts, from a two hour original MLA collation of these speakers’ remarks thus constituting a small portion of the material. Furthermore our posting constitutes comment or news reporting in connection with an issue of public interest. We reported on this news event here, Additionally the use will have no affect on the “market” for the original work, which is non-existent.

Since we vigorously dispute the copyright claims, which were filed in a single bunch, and previous to this had no violations of YouTube’s Terms of Service or the Copyright Act, we request restoration of the account pending resolution of these specific claims.

Jacobson's argument was successful, and YouTube restored the account – at least, temporarily.

MLA's bogus copyright claims apparently reached a sympathetic ear at YouTube.  There was no cause to shut down the channel without warning and without giving any specific reason.  This is a clear case of harassment and intimidation by an organization known for its anti-Israel bias.  They are a prominent member of the BDS movement and unabashedly support the Palestinian cause.

Mr. Jacobson is a vocal supporter of Israel and a vigorous opponent of the BDS movement.  It is not beyond imagining that MLA brought the copyright claims to silence an effective political opponent.

Jacobson says the legal battles are not over.  But given the speciousness of MLA's claims, from here on out, their efforts are more of a nuisance than a threat.

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