YouTube has closed the City channel for TOS violations

Published July 6, 2019 by justicewg

The Grandview Heights council has been posting videos of their council meetings on YouTube for more than a year. The city administration has also used the channel, posting video of planning meetings with residents, and things like the pool opening. As of July 6, 2019, the channel has been closed because of “Term of service violations”.

How to close a channel on YT

You can get a channel on YT closed with very little work. Just gather a handful of people, ask them to create their own channels, then use the YT complaint process to register a few complaints against a channel. It doesn’t need to be accurate or supportable complaints, at the start of the process you are registering with a bot, and the take down can happen with no human review.

Because it is so simple to close a channel, bad guys have been using it to extort money from some YT creators. This Verge story tells of an extortion scheme that was tried on at least two channels, money was demanded from the owners in order to keep the channel alive. Although I suspect the city was not exactly the same situation – there is no copyrightable content on the channel – the same game might have been used to threaten the city, and when they didn’t pay, another strike caused the closing.

It is also possible that there was no extortion, the people who made the strikes could be home owners who didn’t like the content of the meetings – they don’t want to hear residents speak about issues that could cost them money, so they close the channel down in some lame effort to stop the discussion from happening at all. This is not going to work, the city will not allow complaints to affect the deliberations. But because they could do it, I’m sure the people who did it feel like it was a win for them.

The city now can go through the process of appealing the strikes, and should probably win, and have all the videos returned to public viewing. The problem is that the appeals can take weeks to go through the process. And nothing will stop the people who took the channel down from trying to do it again.

YouTube has problems that are not being solved

The Verge story is from Feb. 2019, I have not heard of any action by YT to improve the process of protecting a channel from frivolous strikes. YT is harming its own property by failing to act, when enough people get tired of all the games that you run into on YT, a competitor will emerge.

The city doesn’t have to put up with YT issues, they can self host the videos. There have never been more than 30 or so downloads of each video the city has produced, they should have no problems with their own host server supplying the bandwidth.

There are also service providers who act like YT and host videos for a fee. These providers don’t make money if content has strikes, it isn’t so easy to take video content down.

I hope the city is successful in appealing the strikes against their channel and returns to posting more meeting videos. But I will understand if they say “enough of YT problems” and go somewhere else.

(Edit) The city is in the process of appealing the strikes. From what I have read, this might be resolved soon, it might take weeks. Check back for more info.

(Later) The video of the City Council Meeting July 1, 2019 has been uploaded to The Internet Archive (thanks to Chief Shaner). This was only one meeting, as of now all the rest of the city videos are unavailable as long as YouTube is reviewing the strikes. There is no way to know how long Google will take to review the city channel.

(edit) More than a month has passed since YT has closed the channel. It is impossible to know if this is because they are taking their time in the review, or if they have found a reason to affirm the closure.

(Last edit) The city YT channel has been permanently closed, no further appeals will be heard. Working on a post about the new location of all city videos on the Internet Archive.

The videos for 2019 are now posted on the IA website, read the story.

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