Monday, August 18, 2008

Banned By YouTube! Again!

Well, YouTube did it to me again. They forcibly removed one of my videos, “Ricky’s Cat,” for violation of their “Community Guidelines.”

I asked them how, exactly and specifically, “Ricky’s Cat” violated said guidelines, and I’m still waiting to hear back from them.

YouTube is a private company that is certainly under no obligation to keep my video up if they don’t want to. They don’t have to host any videos they don’t want to. But it would be nice if they explained to me why it was they decided to pull the video, and why they did it so quickly. (For my previously pulled video, the trailer for “Sperm! The Motion Picture,” after it was reported by some busybody there was a period of about three months in which it was still being hosted by YouTube but was restricted access, so that you had to “verify” that you were at least 18 years old before you could watch it. With this one, it was pulled almost immediately after it was reported.)

So where was my violation? Under their Community Guidelines it says that,

“YouTube is not for pornography or sexually explicit content.”

My video isn’t pornography or sexually explicit, unless you’re the type of person who is aroused by a cartoon depiction of a cat licking a man's private parts. If so, that says more about you than about me or my video.

“Don’t post videos showing bad stuff like animal abuse, drug abuse, or bomb making.”

Since my video depicts a CARTOON cat, I don’t how it could be construed in any way as “animal abuse.” And even if it were a cartoon of a cat being set on fire, for instance, it’s still a CARTOON, it’s not a real cat. That "bad stuff" could mean anything, though.

“Graphic or gratuitous violence is not allowed.”

No violence in my video, but have you noticed how subjective these “Guidelines” are? Define “gratuitous violence”. Some people think that the films of Dario Argento are full of gratuitous violence. Some people consider them capital-A Art. So who’s right? Do we have to abide by the standards set by the most easily offended? In that case we’ll be left with nothing but cat videos. Which by the way, is what my video was parodying.

“YouTube is not a shock site. Don’t post gross-out videos of accidents, dead bodies, and similar things.”

Totally reasonable but there was nothing shocking about my parody video.

“Respect copyright.”

Doesn’t apply to me, since I animated this video myself, and my friend Jeff let me use his music in it. Unless that sneaky bastard went behind my back and reported me for using his music without permission, which he gave, but not in writing, so it would be my word against his, that sneaky bastard. (He did not do this and he is not a sneaky bastard.)

“We encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. But we don’t permit hate speech.”

Isn’t that a contradiction? We defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view, just not on our site. Thanks, YouTube. (I also don’t like speech that attacks people based solely on their race, sexual orientation/gender identity, age, veteran status, etc. None of that is in my video, either.)

“There is zero tolerance for predatory behavior, stalking, threats, harassment…”

Again, none of this applies to my video.

“Everyone hates spam. Do not create misleading descriptions, tags, titles, or thumbnails to increase views.”

None of these apply to my video, either. My tags were, “cat, cute cat, adorable cat, Ricky Sprague, Jeff Porterfield, animation, viral video, Simon’s Cat, awakening” All of those were legitimate, since my video was a parody of “Simon’s Cat” videos, and features a “cute, adorable” cat awakening someone in the morning. I, Ricky Sprague, animated it, and my friend, Jeff Porterfield, allowed me to use his song “Pork Squawk” as the soundtrack. The only thing they could ding me for is that I didn’t put the word “parody” in the tags- maybe they think I misled people into thinking it was one of those “Simon’s Cat” videos? You’d have to be pretty dense to think that, given the fact that my video was called “Ricky’s Cat,” and the description was so overripe it was practically oozing, “My cat has an absolutely adorable way of waking me up in the morning. You won’t believe how cute this cat is!”

The Terms of Use basically concern copyright and legal issues, and redirect you to the Community Guidelines.

So I’m still a little mystified by the removal of the video. Some people didn’t like it (a lot of people, actually, since so many of them absolutely LOVE THEIR CATS, but don’t like to see that LOVE parodied), but so what? YouTube defends everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. That’s what they say right there in the Community Guidelines! Maybe at some point they’ll let me know specifically what it is about “Ricky’s Cat” that violates their “Community Guidelines.” Until then, I’ll leave you with a sampling of the comments I got from the people who complained to YouTube and flagged the video. These are the people who are deciding what’s “inappropriate.” All typos and knuckle-dragging foul-language is the fault of the commenters:

WTF is wrong whit you?!!


You've got a really small dick too!!

no... YOU suck bonsomme...

I dont like you

ok that is really disgusting and not funny plus the looks weird

flag this video .

What the hell is the matter with you! You should be sued for copyrights on "Simon's Cat" sicko.

thats sick in so many different ways
for 1, ur cat does that in the 1st place
for 2, ur proud enough of that fact to have it posted on the internet.
u suck.

completely unappropriate
gross to no end. Yuck

You are one screwed person!

thats quweer and immiture....WTF.

This is nasty on soooooooo many level....uugghhh

that wass just wrong!! grow a fucking brain moron



worse and nasty!!! Daaa

fucking shit thats crank go home looser

I also got a lot of positive comments, too. From people who actually understand parody and could tell that the video was clearly a JOKE, and in no way represents me or my real life (for one thing, I am much better-endowed than the character depicted in the video. for another, I do not have a cat). But those comments don’t help me make my point that semi-literate ignoramuses are policing YouTube and calling a joke animation video the same as “hate speech” or whatever the hell it was they thought they were flagging my video for. So I’ll hold those comments back until some later date.

Unlike John Edwards, I don't think of myself as a hero. But I am fighting an important fight on your behalf, so you should support me in everything that I do. Because I do everything I do for you. And this is a problem not only with YouTube, but with society at large: The most easily offended, the most dense members of our community are deciding what you get to watch, or read, or say.

Anyway, you can judge the video for yourself, since it’s still available at Funny or Die:

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

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