November 2, 2021. So, yesterday my little sis sent me a link to a festival that converts selected films into QR codes that allow for versatile forms of screening. I am not against this in principle, but here is my response:
Do you know whether an expiration date is written into the QR code so that there’s a limit to how long it can be used?
I know that might sound overly cautious. But I’m analyzing every single potential transaction from now on because the attack on my YouTube channel last summer was so profound and insidious.
I have only talked about what happened on the surface. It’s really so complicated that I am only now beginning to be able to describe it. But I’m pretty sure I almost lost control of a good deal of my portfolio (which includes every website to which I upload the same work that’s uploaded to YouTube). I believe this most likely was due to pirates who run OTT channels.
I don’t mean to sound mysterious – there are actual numbers that I still have only roughly broken down. I can say for certain, however, that my YouTube view statistics were artificially inflated up to 400%-1000% during the months that my channel was being attacked. I know the statistics were artificially inflated if only because there’s a rate at which my subscriber list tends to grow, and the increased views did not at all increase my subscriber list. In fact, my subscribers actually declined while the views stats were inflated. It may be only a coincidence, but as soon as the views went back down to their normal very modest rate, my subscriber list began to grow again.
If I didn’t have so much legal experience and I wasn’t so aggressive, I might be having to build a new portfolio while fighting for the rights to my work on all the platforms I use.
This is the first time I’ve been able to put in writing what happened to my YouTube channel last summer. I’d bet my entire cowboy boot collection that there were racist/sexist assumptions behind what I’m sure was an attempt to highjack my portfolio – i.e. they probably assumed I was too black, stupid and female to know what was happening in time to nip it in the bud. I’ve removed a lot of videos in the last few months but there were about 850 videos before. I’m sure all those thousands of views of my channel last summer were monetized on some tacky website/s somewhere.
There was nothing I could to stop their making money off my videos and I really don’t care. I think they’re just so ignorant they think ripping a video off the web is somehow the possession that’s 90% of the law. It’s so dumbass. I don’t care about any ripping, either. My ownership is reinforced and backed up on Vimeo, my blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Instagram. Those posts are almost always shared in the same relative time frame that I publish a YouTube video.
Paper trail and show-me-your-timecode-and-I’ll-show-you-mine are not rocket science unless a person is so ignorant they don’t understand ownership has to be backed up with a paper trail. I’m not kidding – my latest update of my bio has my 35 years of legal experience as a prominent line.
Here is a link to an international list, “Directory of Intellectual Property Offices,” https://www.wipo.int/directory/en/urls.jsp, i.e. platforms where copyrights, etc. can be registered with government agencies.
Cover your ass.
July 26, 2021. My YouTube channel was attacked on June 19, 2021. Having dealt with artworld opportunists for 40 years, I recognize a pattern. I don’t think people would try this kind of bullshit on me if I wasn’t 1) female 2) black and 3) American.
Whoever attacked my channel knows their way around YouTube and knew just how many videos to flag before the abusive flagger alarm bells went off. The hijackers got 25 videos removed for violating YouTube community guidelines in very short order (half an hour), which led to my channel being suspended. I immediately contested the suspension and my channel was back up one hour and forty minutes later.
Because so many LABYRINTH videos were singled out, I dropped everything and finished the storyboard so that I could register my copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Even the level of ignoramus who attacked my channel knows the copyright symbol is not real protection. I am not trying to get rich off making movies. And I stopped worrying about tacky websites embedding my work 10 years ago. I AM concerned with protecting my and my family’s property rights in my work. If managing my body of work after I die can benefit my nieces and nephews, I want to cover their asses up front. The Legal Department at YouTube (Vimeo, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook or probably any other online venues) is not going to weigh a claim out of the blue from someone who’s not the channel owner over the channel owner’s government Copyright Office issued certificate. You don’t have to hire a lawyer against that sort of bottom-feeding. All you need is to have a credit card and to not be too lazy to fill out the application form.
Because of past history going as far back as I’ve had YouTube channels, my top theory about the attack on my channel is that the hijackers ripped videos they were interested in; and then they flagged them to get my channel suspended. I’m also guessing that because so many people nowadays export directly to YouTube before saving a hi res file on their harddrive, that the hijackers might have thought once my channel was removed, they had “the only copy” and thus, ownership of my videos.
I was a paralegal for 35 years. Trust me, people really are that stupid and even stupider when they think they “know the law.”
I am going to be a lot pickier about entering festivals from now on, especially now that screenings are happening again; and instead of sending a link, you have to let the festival download your file. I will steer especially clear of “full service” festivals that are also trying to be marketers, promoters and distributors. I say that because I see so much of the same kind of hype and language in their correspondence that I’ve been hearing from artworld hustlers, dabblers, dilettantes and parasites for 40 years.
June 23, 2021. First, don’t have a cow, shit a brick or cry for me Argentina: I was a paralegal for 35 years, so it’s easy for me to file a YouTube appeal; and I got my YouTube channel restored 1 hour and 20 minutes after receiving this email.
Paralegals have jobs because human beings are rat bastards. We would not need The Law if we didn’t suck.
You do not need to be a paralegal or lawyer to stand up for yourself; and if you don’t stand up for yourself, not only are you doing a disservice to yourself, you are doing a disservice to your peers because there goes one more creative taking what’s dished out like a 2/3 human. We all lose ground when that happens.
POSTCRIPT. Advice I got from YouTube peer support in response to this query: “How do I confirm who flagged 20 of my videos last Friday and got my channel removed for an hour? I made formal complaints, first about sexist/racist harassment (because of the videos flagged). The response was the complaint was not the proper process for revelation of the troll/stalker’s identity. So since I probably know who this person is because of being chased on Facebook by an OTT distributor, I filed a second complaint about cyberstalking. I received a vague response that directed me in the same circle. I’m wondering if I should hire a lawyer to write a letter directly to Legal?”
Peer response: “By the way, if someone flags a video, it is checked before any action is taken. Of course, maybe the staff member made a mistake, so that is why there is an appeal process. In your case, you should of course appeal if you feel the channel was wrongly terminated.” …
“It looks like they made a mistake as [your] channel got put back online.” …
“If YouTube feels someone is abusing the reporting process, they will ban him/her.”