By Frank Hutchison
We held the very first (but not last) Spokane Ask Me Anything (#SpokaneAMA) at ITT Technological Institute on April 16th.  We had a blast and all the attendees said they wanted another one!  Well, you will!  We’ll announce the date, time and place when we have all the details worked out.
We also promised to publish all the questions asked with the answerswe gave or would have given if we had more time.  So, today, here’s the first installment – a question that we didn’t have time to answer in the SpokaneAMA:
A few months ago I had my YouTube account suspended for six months.  They only told me a list of 4 things that cause that.  I don’t think I did any of them.  I think I was targeted by one person.  Four videos were tagged within 10 minutes and then I was suspended.  I got nowhere with YouTube so I started a new account.  Have you had any experience with this?
I’ll answer this only in general terms because there is a lot of information missing – such as, what was the specific content that was flagged.  It is also a very complex subject with a lot of rules which is beyond what can be done in a short blog post.  But I can make some guesses and provide a way to stay within YouTube’s guidelines and rules.  First, some background on YouTube terminations or suspensions:
From YouTube’s website:
YouTube accounts may be terminated due to:
·         Repeated violation of the Community Guidelinesor Terms of Service
·         A single case of severe abuse (such as predatory behavior or spam)
·         Repeated claims of copyright infringement
So what doesn’t YouTube want on its site? – here’s a condensed list:
  • Pornography or sexually explicit content.
  • Bad stuff like animal abuse, drug abuse, under-age drinking and smoking, or bomb making.
  • Graphic or gratuitous violence
  • Gross-out videos of accidents, dead bodies or similar things intended to shock or disgust.
  • Hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity).
  • Predatory behavior, stalking, threats, harassment, intimidation, invading privacy, revealing other people’s personal information, and inciting others to commit violent acts.
  • Misleading descriptions, tags, titles or thumbnails in order to increase views. It’s not okay to post large amounts of untargeted, unwanted or repetitive content, including comments and private messages.
  • Respect copyright. Only upload videos that you made or that you are authorized to use. This means don’t upload videos you didn’t make, or use content in your videos that someone else owns the copyright to, such as music tracks, snippets of copyrighted programs, or videos made by other users, without necessary authorizations. Read our Copyright Tips for more information.
The above was summarized from YouTube’s Community Guidelines.
I know the person who asked this question and doubt they were posting any of the first six categories.  Because they mention that four videos were tagged I suspect that they received three strikes because they were perceived (1) posting misleading information or (2) violating copyright.
Misleading Information
This is the hardest arena to deal with because so much depends on the beholder.  Because every business wants to increase views (which is the caveat here) any information which someone can interpret to be misleading may be tagged.  The only defense is to be sure of your statements and cite references whenever possible.  If you state that your dish soap is the best, put a * by the statement and put a statement somewhere stating that it’s based on a survey of 1,000 residents of Pella, Iowa or whatever source you have.
The most likely, and I suspect the most common, reason for receiving three strikes is copyright infringement – using someone else’s material as your own.  So what do you do to avoid copyright infringement?
The best method is to use only your own material – videos you make using music that you wrote and played, etc.  All your own original material featuring only you.  I know – Good luck with that!
Second best method is using your material with material that is clearly in the public domain.  There are websites that you can find that clearly state that the material is available for public use – but check the Terms of Service!  And clearly state somewhere – where it’s easy to see – the source or that the material is in the public domain.
For everything else, for business owners here’s the words that YouTube uses:
For your videos to be eligible for monetization, you must own all the necessary rights to commercially use all visuals and audio, whether they belong to you or to a third party.
Often, this clearance takes the form of explicit written permission from the rights holders.
(These statements are found at What kind of content can I monetize?)
I would include a statement, either at the beginning or (usually) at the end, stating what material belongs to third parties and that you have the right to use the material (and have in your files a record of permission to use the material).
Google/YouTube has a webpage, What kind of content can I monetize?, which has a lot of resources that cover this topic in far greater detail than I can here.  Also, if you have questions about a particular use, visual or audio, either don’t use it or consult with an intellectual property attorney.
Here’s a case in point:  The movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, became a holiday classic partly because a clerical error at National Telefilm Associates (the owner at the time) prevented the copyright from being renewed properly in 1974.  Everyone thought it was now in the public domain – until 1993, when it was argued that the copyright of the work, The Greatest Gift, which the movie was based on was still in force and it covered the movie as a derivative work.  So, It’s a Wonderful Life is again a work that you can’t just use as you like because you would be violating the copyright.

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.