Defeating YouTube Censorship
Defeating YouTube Censorship
Simple steps any internet user can take to reduce GooTube’s stranglehold on information
The Corbett Report
26 February, 2009
When YouTube burst onto the scene in February 2005, it wasn't long before this simple concept revolutionized the way people connect to each other and the way they define "the media." As Vancouver 9/11 Truth activist Michael Hey told The Corbett Report in a recent interview: "I shudder to think where we would be right now if we didn't have YouTube, or if we didn't have the various video hosting services that we have," he said. "Think of the example of Montebello in 2007 where there were agents provocateurs who were outed by citizen journalists."
Indeed, the type of citizen journalism characterized by groups like Vancouver 9/11 Truth (who have confronted such Canadian politicians as Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff) and We Are Change (which has made a name for itself engaging in its own unique style of guerilla journalism) is due in large part to the viral spreading of videos on YouTube, the largest and still most-visited of the video sharing sites. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then surely a video of Luke Rudkowski confronting Zbigniew Brzezinski about his possible involvement in 9/11 is worth a thousand articles attempting to explain the incident.
But precisely because these videos are having such a large effect on the political landscape, there is now a backlash by the corporations whose interests are threatened by a renaissance of grassroots citizen journalism. As The Corbett Report has detailed in the past, the fears of insidious corporate control over YouTube generated by Google’s takeover of the site in 2006 have been realized slowly but surely.
First, GooTube responded to requests by Senator Joe Lieberman to take down videos that the government deems violent or hateful (including, of course, 9/11 Truth information). Then YouTube's parent, Google, quietly announced that its staff "pick and choose" what sites appear in its search results, a move with obvious implications for political censorship. Next, GooTube nixed the highly-popular Bulletin system that helped users quickly spread important videos.
The latest move toward the shutting down of free speech on YouTube is the introduction of algorithms that automatically compare audio and video content against databases of copyrighted material. YouTube can then either place ads on the content and give the proceeds to the copyright holder (as happened to this Corbett Report video), mute the audio (as happened here) or remove the content entirely (as happened to some previous Corbett Report videos). Of course, the algorithm fails to take into account issues of fair use (such as the transformative nature of the work or its allowable use for commentary or news-related purposes) and the "appeal process" offered by YouTube, not being arbitrated by a third party, still gives YouTube dictatorial control over any and all content on its servers.
By now, these facts are well understood by those who use YouTube or any other large, corporate-owned video sharing service. The question for activists and those with politically-sensitive content that may be in danger of being arbitrarily removed is how to preserve this information for the future. Although there is certainly no silver bullet that will provide the solution to the problem of internet censorship, there are some very simple things any internet user can do to help insure that important information is not wiped from the internet altogether.
One such idea is simply to propagate the information on multiple websites. If information is only uploaded to YouTube, there is obviously the danger that it will be suddenly and unexpectedly removed from the web. This is the electronic equivalent of putting all of your eggs in one basket. If the original uploader of the video is unwilling or unable to upload the video again, that video is effectively lost forever. To help combat this problem, all users should help propagate important videos by downloading them and re-uploading them to different video sharing sites. The process is extraordinarily simple and once mastered can take as little as 10 minutes, yet may help preserve access to the information for the future.
For those unfamiliar with how to download videos from video sharing sites, there are numerous tutorials and instructional videos that will walk you through the process, as well as sites that list dozens of software tools and websites that exist for this very purpose. Once a video has been downloaded, simply follow the registration instructions for one of the many other video sharing sites out there (such as LiveLeak, DailyMotion, Blip TV, etc.) and upload the video there. A simple process like this can help insure important information is not lost to future activists, researchers and concerned citizens (as happened here).
Another important part of defeating corporate censorship is to support small, independently-operated video sharing platforms. One such platform is VeracityVideos.com, the video sharing website recently launched by Zeke McLeskey of NewsX.info. In a recent interview for The Corbett Report, McLeskey explained the importance of using such non-corporate independently-run websites for disseminating important information: "You can't really replace Google Video, but I wanted to make something that people could use to store their videos without the worry or concern of censorship." Stressing that the ability to combat censorship was the website's primary concern, McLeskey added, "I build the servers, I host the servers, I built the website. Everything is here with me so I don't have to worry about anyone tampering or censoring any of the media."
Click here to listen to the full interview with Zeke McLeskey.
Of course, just as putting all of one's information eggs into one YouTube basket is a recipe for disaster, so too is relying on one alternative site a bad idea. In order to reach the maximum number of people, reduce stressloads on alternative news source servers and maximize the chances of information being preserved, it would be wise to upload important videos to as many different sites as possible. Again, there is no magic bullet that will solve all censorship problems, but a concerned public should make every effort to insure that important information becomes as difficult to remove from the public record as possible.
As part of this effort, The Corbett Report will continue to upload new videos (including upcoming installments of Al Qaeda Doesn't Exist) to a number of different sites, including YouTube, DailyMotion and VeracityVideos. Users who are interested in once again seeing all of The Corbett Report videos that have been censored on YouTube can now watch the videos on our user channel on VeracityVideos.com or in the players below: