MIT's YouTomb catalogs videos yanked from YouTube

Project scans the most popular videos for the metadata Google inserts after a clip has been taken down, purportedly due to DMCA violations.

YouTomb shows videos removed from YouTube because of copyright complaints.
YouTomb shows videos removed from YouTube because of copyright complaints. YouTomb

Ever wonder how many YouTube videos vanish from alleged copyright violations? A Massachusetts Institute of Technology research project called YouTomb can show you some.

The site, an effort by the MIT Free Culture group, scans the most popular YouTube videos for the metadata Google inserts after a video has been taken down. YouTomb shows a list of recently removed videos (which you can't actually view), who requested their removal, when they were taken down, and how long they were up beforehand.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act shields Web sites from legal action based on content published there by site users if the Web site operator removes the content upon receipt of a "takedown" request by the copyright holder.

The MIT Free Culture group said it became more interested in the YouTube takedown issue after Google launched a tool that scans to see if uploaded videos match fingerprints of copyright content.

"While many YouTube videos that contain non-original material are blatantly violating copyright (e.g., exact rips of TV shows), many others have a more complex legal status because of the fair use provision of copyright law," the group said. "The sampling and remixing of non-original material have often led to great cultural accomplishments, so protecting this fragile aspect of copyright law is very important to us."

(Via Google Operating System blog.)

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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