Thursday, September 10, 2020

Government Body Unthinkingly Issues Takedown Notice To Video, Puts YouTube Channel In Poor Standing

YouTube Channel - Luptonga - 01

The Films Division of India has hit my YouTube Channel with a takedown notice. Quite petty & unintelligent of  it.

I have been maintaining a YouTube Channel since a little after High-school. It is now more than a decade old. The aim, from the onset, has been to bring to fore developments & achievements pertaining to Indian Science & Technology, in an accurate manner.

Long hours of surfing the Internet unearths gems, hidden away, behind incorrect/absent video descriptions, poor un-navigable site layouts, or sandwiched between unremarkable footage. Spending time doing this, for instance, lead to discovery of some rare footage, such as Dr. Kalam's much-talked about Hovercraft, Nandi, in actual action or an insightful presentation about the India-based Neutrino Observatory [INO]. In light of the upcoming Indian Human spaceflight mission, an Indian take on Manned Space travel & Recovery Experiments. Dr. Homi Sethna, one of the pioneers of India's Nuclear programme, appears in this rare video interview. Perhaps, no other clips in the Public Domain of these. Blessing of India, themselves, putting across the message. Many others like this, over there. The Channel is an expression of a deep-rooted desire to showcase Indian Science & Technology, befitting the supreme admiration it must evoke. It is an individual endeavour, that I maintain, as a hobby.

Vikram Sarabhai - Documentary - Watermark - 01

One thing I have steadfastly adhered to, is to prominently credit the original creator, for the content, not leaving any ambiguity. This involves, both, adding a Watermark in the video, stating the URL of the creator & also dropping a Link in the video's text description. Serves 2 purpose - the creator is duly acknowledged for the content & it gives interested viewers to further explore & discover more content.

One such video, uploaded in 2010, was a Films Division documentary about Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, considered as the Father of India's Space Programme. The organization functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting [MIB], Government of India [GoI]. They had uploaded the same on their website. Back then, it had an appearance of a school kid doing a 'Hello World' with HTML. Downloaded, cropped it into 3 portions, added prominent Watermarks in all 3 clips & uploaded it, giving all due credit. It stayed on the Channel for 10 years, where it grabbed a fair amount of viewership. Folks dropped comments, thanking for introducing Dr. Sarabhai to them. Some expressed admiration for India's Space programme, while some committed to join ISRO, inspired by his story. All in all, it evoked positive reactions.

Vikram Sarabhai - Documentary - Films Division - Copyright Violation - Takedown notice - 01

It is not uncommon for videos I share to be claimed for copyright infringement. The original Creator may have used an unlicensed Soundtrack. In such cases, YouTube informs that ads may play in, or be placed around, the video, the revenue of which will go to the copyright holder. The video, itself, will remain unaffected. During such time, YouTube also reiterates, nay, reassures that, "The Content ID claim on your video doesn't affect your channel. This is not a copyright strike.". Have never given it any thought, as long as the video is out there. On occasions, some entities have filed fraudulent Copyright claims, that I dispute & get removed.

The point being, the Channel has been, in fact been quite enthusiastic about acknowledging the original Creator, & has also had no issues with them gaining monetarily from it. It, therefore, was quite an unexpected notification informing that the MIB's Film Division has filed a 'copyright takedown request', resulting in the removal of all 3 parts of the video about Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. It happened sometime in July. I, however, realised it only 2 days ago, when I logged in to upload another video.

This time around, unlike earlier, YouTube also warned of the possibility of eventually disabling the account. This act, too, would have no bearing on me, personally, as it's offline backup exists, dating back to 2007/2008 - 40-odd GB. No financial gains, for me, from the Channel, as it is not monetised. Everything considered, the affair is inconsequential.

It, however, does demonstrate, how heavy-handed & unthinking Government bodies can be in their conduct. YouTube is one of the world's largest video sharing platforms. Any video uploaded there guarantees visibility & awareness generation. In this day & age, where Instagram Influencers & Video Gamers livestreaming their stuff all day, hold the sway over the impressionable minds, there is a pertinent need to project better role models. That documentary, played it's small part towards that endeavour. Removing that from public viewing only deprives the public of informative content to watch & be inspired.

A visit, back, to their website tells that the video can, retrospectively, be had, in lieu of a payment of ₹ 100/=, less than $1.5 USD. Not only it is an affront to the personality on whom it's based, after a fashion, but revenue far greater than that, it could have accrued, if it kept my video out there & placed AdSense ads around it, within it, however it wanted, as long as the video existed. Instead some Safari suited-booted Baboo drawing salary from that organisation chose to act like a Bull in a China store.

The idiocy of it's move to extort money for something, that was, earlier, available for free.

Not just that, neither the Documentary itself, nor the Films Division website mentions anything about the video being copyrighted to them. That, and being an arm of a Public Broadcast service, and me now being a tax-paying individual, the sharing-caring arrangement should have been implicit. Apparently not. Ambiguity abound, Baboos discretionary power reigned supreme.

YouTube lists an email ID over which I reach out to them. Given the catatonia in public outreach of Governmental Organisations, I foresee an experience whereby a wall bangs itself repeatedly on my head, if I pursue the matter on those lines. A much avoidable experience.

Just wanted to put it out there, to inform how unintelligent some governmental pension-धारी individual has been, in this matter.

In case you are interested, another video of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, a DECU-produced documentary, is available on the Channel.