YouTube suspension of the JREF account

By Phil Plait | March 30, 2009 10:47 pm

I’m getting lots of notes, comments, tweets, and emails about the suspension of the YouTube JREF account. We’re working on it with YouTube, and we’re hoping to have this resolved soon. Obviously, this is not something we’re going to go into details about until it’s resolved, so please don’t fret, and we ask for your patience. The support we’ve seen from everyone has been fantastic, and we appreciate it.


Comments (102)



  2. Good luck on getting it all sorted out.

    As a practical matter — whatever the cause of this current incident — it’d probably be a good idea to “diversify one’s portfolio” of video-hosting sites. Why not cross-post material to Vimeo, the Internet Archive’s movie repository, etc.? (Rebecca Watson has been putting the Boston Skeptics in the Pub recordings on Vimeo, for example.)

  3. Would the JREF consider moving or at least cross-posting their stuff to other video sites like Vimeo? TBH Youtube is kinda ghetto.

  4. So are you telling us to just sit tight? I’m a little dismayed by P.Z.’s response to requests for background information – “The reason for this particular event is irrelevant” – but I suppose if any official information is going to be coming out, it will be coming from you.

    If you want pichforks and torches, I will do my best to mobilize my dozens of readers at Another Monkey, most of whom are coming to my site with queries like “cathy baker hee haw” and “sour bowl monkey vomit.” Not necessarily the most tightly-focused group, admittedly…

  5. What I’d like to see are suspensions of the people who flagged JREF

  6. Tim G

    I will subscribe to the account as soon as it is reactivated.

  7. BJN

    Until you can go into the details, all the hyperventilation at Pharyngula and elsewhere seems speculative and reactionary. Let us know if we need to break out the pitchforks but it sounds like you have the situation well in hand.

  8. DLC

    I confess, I wrote a letter of complaint to Youtube over the issue.
    I don’t want to speculate on causes here, as that’s been done to death elsewhere, but I felt it important to voice my concerns to Youtube. Suspending the JREF channel is just silly.

  9. Let’s hope it all gets straightened out soon.

  10. Geoff

    This is nothing to get excited about. We don’t care. There’s plenty of good stuff on television and I hear Nickelback just won big at the Junos’!!! Nothing to see here.

    Oooh. Look! Something shiny!

  11. What probably happened was that some creationist group/person used a law known as the DMCA (the Digital Millenium Copyright Act) to say that JREF was hosting copyrighted material (it’s the same law that the music industry used on YouTube some time back over the music videos).

    If I may suggest an alternative (PZ Myers has a post asking for alternatives to YouTube) there’s always Ning and LiveLeak.

  12. SourBlaze, the grumblings at Pharyngula all seem to be based on “what probably happened.” Some people are already engaging in retaliatory flaggings of presumed associates of the presumed offenders. Mob mentality is not the sort of thing I expected to see over there.

    Phil knows what happened. And until he tells us, I believe he is asking us to sit tight and be patient.

  13. I’m not saying we should “retaliate,” that would be wrong (and it would compound it). I’m saying that the creationist “secret agents for Jesus” people will do it again someday, and as a result I think we should get off of YouTube.

  14. Helioprogenus

    I had a feeling there was some kind of rational argument on Phil’s part to YouTube. I for one appreciate the hard work involved in resolving this, but I’m tired of YouTube’s super sensitive sensibilities. These shenanigans, by some cowardly systems administrators, are not conducive towards free thought and the expression of ideas. I will boycott YouTube until this is settled, and even afterwords, this is the last straw. We must find and use alternatives.

  15. CameronSS

    There’s a viral video being spread in protest, everyone is being asked to mirror the following video:

    I just submitted it as the 198th video response.

  16. There have been nearly 500 mirrored copies of the video protesting the suspension!

  17. Jason Dick

    Well, if they do not restore the JREF account within ~24 hours, I say it’s pitchfork time.

  18. I just sent a profanity laced e-mail to the YouTube folks telling them I’ll never post another vid to my YouTube account again. lol

  19. I recommend Vimeo. No reason why there can’t be multiple homes for JREF videos, anyway.

  20. despicable but not so surprising. We’re now set to teach “creationism” in the schools in Texas now, too. I guess all this blasphemy is getting to be too much for the control freaks who’ve been voted out.

    Let’s call out Jon Stewarts “angry mob”.

  21. Observer

    Vimeo is no safe haven, of course – they use exactly the same DMCA takedown procedure as YouTube, because that’s what US law requires. They might not get as many takedown notices, but that’s only because they’re much much smaller: DMCA takedown requests are like a viruses – the only reason you don’t get as many as the big players is that nobody’s using your platform.

    Reposting material for critical review also appears to be against Vimeo’s community guidelines – that site is designed for film makers and creators, not heated debates.

    (Btw, the music industry doesn’t use DMCA to remove stuff from YouTube. All major content providers have deals with YouTube, and usually gets paid per view. When stuff gets taken down, it’s almost always because the provider wants more money than YouTube is willing to pay, or because the provider have sold exclusive rights to someone else.)

    And LiveLeak? Yeah, why not – if you want skeptics to be associated with the shock jocks on the Internet’s underbelly, that’s a good choice.

  22. Observer

    “I just sent a profanity laced e-mail to the YouTube folks”

    Yeah, the best way is to deal with idiots that submit fraudulent takedown notices is to make it clear to the middlemen that you’re an even bigger idiot. Well, not really. The best way, given how the DMCA is designed and the obviously little-known fact that it’s a US law, is to follow the procedure and then sue the fraudsters. If you’re a small player, these guys can help:

  23. theinquisitor

    I suspect it’s another gellar-type incident. Someone who was exposed by his channel made complaints and is now in the process of having karma being a bitch.

  24. Observer

    Btw, for people who are more into learning about things than ranting over things they know little about, the letter from YouTube to the McCain campaign is interesting reading:

    (See the PDF linked from that post.)

    (And people who are really concerned over things like this should of course join the EFF. Or donate. Or volunteer. Still here? Go there now. Here’s the link, again:

  25. Ok, I’ll be the first to admit: Liveleak isn’t going to be a first choice.

    However, about DMCA on YouTube: It’s been abused before with results exactly like this; plus, the music industry has been using DMCA. So many music videos are taken down with “This video has been removed due to a copyright claim by ‘insert music industry clique here'” and that has to refer to DMCA, since it is the law that deals with such circumstances.

    Even if I am wrong in this case with JREF, DMCA abuse is a good place to start. Usual suspects and all.

  26. Rational Response is now Suspended!

    Can I just say we skeptics need to get off of YouTube?

  27. Rational Response is now Suspended too.

  28. Robbak

    What they need is an automated counter-notice-restore system. Then we set up an automated send-counter-notice system, and the effect of a bogus take down would last all of a few hundredths of a second.

  29. glued

    Here’s a good suggestion from one of the commenters in Pharyngula:

    Posted by: Fiziker | March 30, 2009 6:37 PM

    I second XTube. That way Phil Plait can do his videos in the style of softcore porn.


  30. sailor

    JREF and Rational Resp0nse should have a back up of all their videos on their own sites. This way they will not be subject to the whims of idiot administrators.

  31. MZ

    SourBlaze: “I’m not saying we should “retaliate,” that would be wrong (and it would compound it). I’m saying that the creationist “secret agents for Jesus” people will do it again someday, and as a result I think we should get off of YouTube.”

    And so they win. They were aiming to silence a few loud atheists, and they succeed in silencing all of them.

  32. I’m glad to find out that not everyone is absolutely FREAKING OUT over this. People get their channels pulled all the time in YouTube in simple interpersonal squabbles. The YouTube system, out of fear of liability, has a system that is designed to fail closed as opposed to open. I don’t blame them- ultimately the video sharing website can’t afford to be doling out cash to overzealous copyright lawyers. So their system responds to extensive flagging.

    What I don’t understand is why YouTube can’t allow channels from institutions that are vetted by YouTube staff for offensive or copyrighted content. Cost could be a factor, but then why not a small, one-time approval fee to pay for the warm bodies who have to sift through content? Or even a disclaimer promising to take on responsibility for any and all copyright infringment? There are porbably a few ways for YouTube to work their way around the problem of flagging campaigns.

    I like YouTube when it came out, don’t get me wrong. However the level of immaturity among many users (broken-windows theroy?), the low video resolution (admittedly becoming less of an issue) and the numerous times I’ve hit dead links has soured me on the site. If it isn’t embedded in a blog, I usually don’t follow links there.

    I’m not advocating a boycott or anything, I’m simply saying why I find myself using it less and less. Really, this is just a rant cleverly disguised as a thoughtful contribution. (Like a lot of YT vids, actually) 😉

  33. I sent in a strong feedback to Google (YouTube), for doing this. Since, to me, it really doesn’t matter what their ‘reason’ is at this point. They should have contacted the channel owner, and let them know, why, and what they might be able to do to prevent it. Obviously that didn’t happen, so… Google is now officially evil… :)

  34. Joe Meils

    I guess I’m really out of it… what’s JREF?

  35. QUASAR

    YouTube is under attack by creationist votebots! They’re on a mass flagging campain and YouTube is biased toward those religulous scums!

  36. Observer

    “Obviously that didn’t happen, so… ”

    Obviously? Given that Phil says that they’re working on it, and that Randi has told people that he knows what the complaint is all about, and expect to have it sorted out soon, it’s pretty obvious that it did happen.

    What is it with YouTube’s influence on the human brain? The comment section on Pharyngula looks like a really crappy version of a random YouTube comment thread (minus thumbs down and moderation) with a bit of 4chan thrown in (Massflaggings of religious content to “retaliate”? Mail addresses to individual youtube employees? Faking DMCA requests against YouTube:s own videos? WTF?), and Myers’ own post is almost as stupid. And some comments on this forum aren’t much better…

    And all it took to make the “skeptics community” behave like a bunch complete morons is a minor legal dispute, and the temporary disappearance of some videos that will most likely pop up again in a couple of days or a week, at the most. Someone’s having fun today, that’s for sure.

  37. QUASAR

    This is what I mean!

  38. bob

    Boy, a lot of people sure are *concerned* about the responses to this incident! Here’s a question or two for all you worried folks: are you aware that the Rational Response and Atheist Media accounts were also suspended, and do you think it’s likely that all three of these groups just happened to get caught violating a copyright law at the same time?

    Just wondering, since after all it might indeed just be a coincidence …

  39. Jow Meils, JREF = James Randi Educational Foundation, of which Phil is the President.

    So are we still in an explanation blackaout? Or has someone put out information (not speculation) yet?

  40. Observer

    “are you aware that the Rational Response and Atheist Media accounts were also suspended”

    Are you sure they were suspended at the same time, or is that just the echo chamber speaking?

  41. Observer

    “What I don’t understand is why YouTube can’t allow channels from institutions that are vetted by YouTube staff for offensive or copyrighted content.”

    You mean like ?

    Educational institutions also have access to YouTube EDU, but I’m not sure JREF belongs to that category.

  42. Quiet Desperation

    I guess I’m really out of it… what’s JREF?

    A deep space probe that went looking for God and found just empty space.

  43. Elmar_M

    Well lets hope things can get sorted out with Youtube. Best of luck with that.
    Google is getting way to powerful, if you ask me. They are almost(!) in control of the web by now. If they dont like you, they can basically silence you to death. That then means that your website is not found by google search anymore and that your videos wont be on Youtube and your company wont appear on google maps, etc…
    They can even digg out compromising information about you from their super data archives, if they want to.
    They are like the Wallmart of the web. Everyone shops there, but they are not good people.

  44. I could never figure out how to contact YouTube. I saw a note that directed me to their help page, adding that if I didn’t find what I needed I would see a link to a contact page. But clicking that just sent me back to the help page again.

    How does one actually contact these clowns?

  45. Todd W.


    Ever read Kafkas’ The Castle?

  46. Why would anyone contact them directly? None of us know what the JREF did (mistakenly, if at all, I hope) and none of us know which term of service YouTube is claiming the JREF violated (with the obvious exception of Phil). The most we could do is ask for more information, which I doubt YouTube is required to disseminate.

    Until I know exactly what’s going on, I won’t blindly condemn YouTube, despite a history of such chicanery previously. Because, you know. That would be pretty “faithy.”

    So Phil, unless you want to give us details (which is completely understandable if you don’t or cannot), then how can we blindly join your cause? While I will never fail to grant you or your associates and associations the benefit of the doubt, I’m on anyone’s side only insofar as evidence and explicit knowledge allows. I don’t think that’s an unfair position.

  47. Greg in Austin


    Just post some copywrite’d material. Then, THEY will contact YOU!


  48. Hey Phil, I’ll host the videos free of charge and put them on fast CDN’s for hi-def streaming.

  49. Charles Boyer

    Set up a Quicktime or a RealVideo server on your own network.

    Yes it is more trouble, but you control your own content.

    Alternatively, you can convert everything to FLV (Flash Video) and embed it in any type of web coding language.

    YouTube is essentially a weak link, because the next person that comes along and claims a DMCA violation will put you back at square one.

  50. Daniel J. Andrews

    Anarchy for all! Storm the castle. Burn the witch! Burn her, burn her! She turned me into a newt! We don’t need no steenkin’ rational thought.

    Sheesh, if this is rational scepticism I’m converting to….uhhh….hmm…ok, I’m not converting, but will ya please stop acting like a bunch of conspiracy theorists? Wait till we have reliable information…the witches will keep…rational scepticism is about burning the witches after we have the evidence, not before. 😉

  51. Todd W.

    @Daniel J. Andrews

    rational scepticism is about burning the witches after we have the evidence, not before.

    But, if we wait for the evidence, they might turn out to not be witches. Then who are we going to burn?

  52. Brian

    Indeed. All the information we do have seems to indicate that JREF and YouTube are talking to each other, and that JREF is currently doing whatever work is necessary to prove fair use.

    Yes, it sucks that there are obnoxious users out there targeting JREF (and the Rational Response Squad, and Atheist Media — assuming that the same complainers are responsible for all three), but really that just means that they’re getting heard. Like MZ said, leave YouTube and give those complainers exactly what they wanted.

    Have some patience. We are the skeptical community; let’s start acting like it.

  53. Observer

    Does anyone actually *know* that Rational Response Squad and Atheist Media were pulled at the same time? I’ve seen several reports that claim that they both went down a lot earlier (for copyright reasons), and the people that keep spreading the rumor never follows up when asked for evidence…

    “We are the skeptical community; let’s start acting like it.”


  54. Thanny

    All you people poo-pooing the negative reaction are creating an awfully convincing simulation of stunning naivete. YouTube does not suspend accounts for simple mistakes – they remove videos.

    For the account to be suspended would require a coordinated effort on the part of those who don’t like the content of JREF’s videos to complain fraudulently. In other words, YouTubes lousy abuse-handling system was gamed, yet again.

    The suspension of those other accounts merely ices the cake.

  55. Todd W.

    Regarding the Rational Response Squad’s channel, RRS is boycotting YouTube due to harrassment. Info can be found here: (add www to the beginning)

    Atheist Media’s site had no info on their channel being suspended.

  56. bob

    In addition to stunning naivete, these folks are also doin science/skepticism rong. It is okay to provisionally come to a conclusion based on evidence. The evidence: (i) three skeptical/atheist Youtube accounts seem to have been suspended concurrently, and (ii) Youtube removed the accounts themselves rather than individual videos. That first piece of evidence makes it seem like a concerted effort on somebody’s part, and the second piece of evidence makes it unlikely to be a little copyright infringement problem.

    If additional information comes in, we can all change our minds. What’s the problem here? It sounds to me like you folks would’ve happily fiddled while Rome burned; after all, those white puffy things might just be clouds, or perhaps they’re just from a couple little fires.

  57. Observer

    Bob, did you read Todd’s post where he provides a link where the Rational Response Squad says that they’ve withdrawn from YouTube themselves? It’s sitting there just above your own, I think…

    And while we’re on the topic of stunning naivete bordering on outright stupidity, if someone is filing DMCA takedown requests against a few YouTube channels that you happen to know about, what do you expect to be able to do about that? You know that DMCA is a US law, right? You do know that even skeptics have to follow the law, even if they disagree with it, right? Fact is that there’s not a single thing you can do about this specific case – the law outlines the process, and all the grownups here (i.e. JREF and YouTube and most likely also Phil; not so sure about PZ, though) are following that process to the letter. If JREF provides a valid counter-notification, their videos will appear again. If they have violated someone’s copyright, the case may end up in court, and it’s then up to the court to decide who’s right and who’s wrong.

    If you want to change the law, that’s great – but behaving as if this is the first time you’ve ever heard about copyright and the DMCA takedown process (which has been around for over ten years) makes me wonder if you just got internet access.

    Now skip over to the site and read up on the DMCA and recent court cases. Educate yourself, instead of trying to play smartass on the internet when you don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about.

  58. Since when is withholding judgment until definitive evidence is in become doing wrong to any community, let alone one founded on empiricism and accuracy? I’m a big fan of “seems” and “probably is” as plot devices but as Sagan once said, I prefer to think with my brain, not my gut.

  59. bob

    Observer: I did read the link; but, did you try and access their Youtube account? It’s been suspended, presumably due to the very harassment that they don’t want to deal with. That link helps my case, your snark notwithstanding. And, as for you posturing about DMCA, what does that have to do with this case? Do you think that every single one of the JREF’s, RRS’s, and AtheistMedia’s videos violated copyright law, and that this was discovered simultaneously? And, even if this amazing coincidence did actually occur, why were the accounts suspended rather than the videos removed? I’m not trying to be a smartass, I’m trying to point out that the evidence indicates that this issue isn’t just Randi accidentally using a clip he doesn’t have the rights to (or something benign like that).

    sean: Nice dodge there. Now you want “definitive evidence,” even though that likely will never be available and, if it ever is, will be long after the incident is settled. No one’s thinking with their gut, they are looking at evidence and coming to a provisional conclusion. What’s the problem with this? Actually, the problem is with your overcautious position. If we do nothing waiting for “definitive evidence,” perhaps Youtube will just side with the people who successfully got these accounts removed, since there would be no outcry from those who disagree with the removal.

  60. Bob: Perhaps I was unclear. By definitive evidence, I mean an open examination of the specific instances involved in the suspension. Such as which video or videos were the basis, and what term they violated. Then we could all look at it and say “YouTube is wrong” or “JREF made a mistake” or whatever other option exists.

    The problem here is that the provisional conclusion assigns blame. For the same reason a juror isn’t selected if they have a provisional conclusion of guilt, we should remain undecided unless we have all the available information.

    In this case we are positive that specific information is being withheld (again, for good reason, I am sure). Since we know that information is crucial to determining whether JREF erred, no rational person should, in good conscience, make any assertions.

    Sure, I suspect YouTube is jerking JREF around. Sure, YouTube has a history of doing so. Sure, JREF has always been above the board as far as I can ascertain. A trend is not a truism.

    Since the people who do have the necessary information are fighting this, and seem fully capable, there should be few issues with the fact that we as outsiders cannot determine accurately the state of things. How can it be remiss to avoid speculative judgment when further detail is extant but inaccessible?

  61. Sticks

    Perhaps because Randi challenges the claims of psychics and others, YouTube have considered that Cyber Bullying.

    In the world we have today of moral relativism, we are told that everyone’s opinion and claim is just as valid and should not be attacked. To some that is what debunking might be,.

    I will be very surprised if JREF ever comes back on YouTube again.

    The frauds and the charlatans score up another win.


  62. bob

    sean: thanks for the kind reply, in spite of my tone. I see where you are coming from, but I think we risk missing an opportunity to help the situation if we wait for more evidence. As you admitted, it sure does seem as if something fishy is going on … all the signs point to that. We cannot be absolutely certain, of course, but based on the available evidence the most likely explanation is: someone got a hair across their ass and convinced a lot of people to complain about various atheist-themed accounts.

    Given that, I think that Youtube receiving noise in opposition to the original complaints will help matters. Youtube isn’t a judge, nor is it necessarily rational or fair. They suspended these accounts, and it was probably because a bunch of people complained about them. If other people complain about them being removed, perhaps they will rethink things if their action generates similar complaints.

  63. @ Sticks: nah….this is a wrinkle. They try tactics like this all the time, and they always loose.

    Randi, and Phil are some of the most savvy skeptics out there….they know how to stop the liars and charlatans and fight back.

    Though I agree that this is what happens when post-modernist relativism runs unchecked.

  64. ND

    So hang on, the rational responders’ account on youtube was suspended voluntarily by RRS itself but it’s the JREF account that was suspended by youtube?

    If Phil is asking for patience as they sort this out (hopefully by catapulting lawyers at youtube), then I don’t think there’s much else we can do.

    In the meantime. Go skepticism. Go debunkery!

  65. Bob: My wager would be firmly on the side of a situation remarkably similar to what you described. I’m just not willing to send any scathing letters to anyone until I can be more reasonably sure that my wager is more than specious trending.

    Also, as ND points out, and as I may have erroneously implied the reverse of: Phil isn’t necessarily asking for this letter writing campaign that I’m railing against. I like to assume that Phil wouldn’t ask for such a thing when he can’t reveal all the necessary information that would allow for an informed decision.

    I’m curious as to what your version of a complaint might contain, if you don’t mind sharing. From where I sit, the contents would be sparse due to the points we’ve gone ’round about thus far. I wonder, though, is the case perhaps otherwise?

  66. Blu-Ray-Ven

    Camaroon SS said

    There’s a viral video being spread in protest, everyone is being asked to mirror the following video:

    I just submitted it as the 198th video response.”

    at this moment there are 364 mirrored videos of DPRjone’s “Youtube have lost the plot – JREF account suspended”

    add it to your youtube account, lets get the number of mirrored up to 1,000 by tomorrows end. and keep that video on you account until JREF gets reinstated

  67. sean hogge Says on March 31st, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Bob: My wager would be firmly on the side of a situation remarkably similar to what you described. I’m just not willing to send any scathing letters to anyone until I can be more reasonably sure that my wager is more than specious trending.

    You don’t have to send a scathing letter. You can send a polite letter of inquiry, suggesting that the JREF has always been above board on all the videos they’ve uploaded and that they have a sterling reputation and a whole sale suspension of the account should require extraordinary circumstances. Then request that the account be restored as soon as possible as they information and educational material provided by the JREF is desperately needed in this world.

    That’s my take, and what I did.


  68. So is there some sort of gag order on this situation, or what? Phil has done four posts now since this one, but still no workd of explanation or clarification or background information on this. And I’m not sure if I can be bothered to wade through P.Z. Myers’s site in search of information, which he has already declared is “irrelevant” anyway.

    I feel like we’re in that Twilight Zone episode where the aliens kill power to some (but not all) of the houses in a neighborhood, and watch as once-friendly neighbors turn on each other out of fear and confusion.

    Phil, can you enlighten us here? Are you even following this thread?

  69. Andrew

    And who says we don’t live in a free world?

  70. I don’t mean to advertise, but after sleeping on it I think Ning would be a good choice.

    This is what Ningers can do:

    This is Ning’s ToS:

    It seems Ning is pretty liberal about the content posted. They used to (NOTE: USED TO) allow porn, believe it or not — until the porn ones cost them too much money:

    Sorry about all of the links; normally I know multiple linking is kind of discouraged, but in this circumstance I hope everyone will understand my motives. I just think it may make a good alternative.

  71. Richard

    Unfortunately, if you want to get the message out to the masses, YouTube is the way to go.

    As of this writing, YouTube is about 20 minutes away from scheduled maintenance. Maybe this issue will be resolved during that time.

    I’m sure Phil will let us know one way or the other what has happened.

  72. I’d personally recommend — sleek interface, and you can optionally let your users download the video clips, in either .FLV or .MP4. also has similar functionality.’

  73. CR

    This is annecdotal, of course, but a friend of mine has a YouTube channel, and he recently noticed that another YouTuber he’d ‘favorited’ had his videos about atheism removed. Apparently, this was not the first time this had happened.
    Just offering this up as annecdotal ‘evidence’ of past anti-atheism over there.

  74. zar

    Honestly, this may be a situation in which being passive and calm is pretty worthless. Youtube isn’t moved by reasonable discourse; it’s moved by hysteria. It gives in to the group that will give it the biggest headache.

  75. Matthew Reynolds

    CR and zar, you’re both really not helping. Why encourage a community that prides itself on being rational and elegant to do something crude and idiotic?

  76. Al

    Hehe… you guys. Come on!

    “I just sent a profanity laced e-mail to the YouTube folks” etc…

    THERE ARE NO YOUTUBE FOLKS! Doesn’t anybody understand? YouTube is not an organization. It is a computer program. There’s nobody there to read and consider anything you send there. There’s a machine that interprets the formatat of the text and if it checks out then takes the appropriate action. DMCA is one example. Wanna take a channel down? Sure, go ahead. Submit a DMCA complaint in the correct format and down it goes. It’s 100% automated. But be sure to cover your tracks because humans will get involed in the counter complaint where you will be sued for DMCA abuse if your identity is actually discovered.

    But ya, there’s nothing to it. Take down any channel you like. It’s as easy as the example YouTube provieds as a template for taking down sites. Fill in the blanks, make up a name and away you go!

    – A

  77. CR

    I’m not encouraging anyone to do anything, Matthew Reynolds, let alone anything (as you say) “crude and idiotic.” I’m just offering up information I had heard from my friend. I’ll add that this occurred several weeks ago, so apparently NOT in conjunction with the JREF thing that’s currently ongoing. I was simply trying to point out that there have been PAST occurrences of atheist-related material getting deleted/removed/whatever from YouTube.

    Please note that I stressed (twice) that my information was annecdotal, and that I also used the word ‘evidence’ in quotes (as I’ve just done again).

    Now, where was I being irrational and encouraging anyone to “do something crude and idiotic” as you assert?

  78. Sticks

    It is still down, and I expect it to stay that way in perpetuity

    Randi upset a lot of powerful people and that brings consequences.

    Remember that lawsuit Sylvia Browne brought against that guy who ran the Stop-Sylvia brown website?

    These people could say to YouTube that Randi was harming their ability to make a living, and if they did not shut him down permenantly, their lawyers would make them do so.

    Also Randi criticised various people in the so called religious right, including those who claimed to be faith healers, (frauds IMHO), since they are strong, they could have leaned on Google / YouTube, and the sudden vanishing of atheism videos may indicate that.

    Either way, it looks like it is the end for James Randi on YouTube. Maybe it is time for those at JREF to acknowledge that this is sadly now the case and move one.

  79. blurayven

    the mirror of the viral vid calling for the re-instatment of the JREF account if now over 500, keep it going

  80. Frankly, if you ask me, forging a DMCA notice under false pretenses, especially for no other reason than to target someone else’s freedom of speech, should be a federal crime. In fact, I wonder if it is… and if I were JREF, I’d pay the best fed lawyer to find out if charges could be brought up.

  81. Dave


    Filing a false DMCA is considered perjury. See the videos about the event where a user by the name of “VenomFangX” filed several against another user, “Thunderf00t” for more information (They can be found on the latters channel). He didn’t prosecute, however, which was more generous than I would have been.

  82. Al

    It is a crime. And when you flag a video the machine called “YouTube” prints a standard message explaining as much.

    However, the action taken by that machine is automatic and the owner of the account is given an opportunity to challenge the claim. Once the count-complaint is issued, then human beings get involved. How else can you operate a file sharing site with about a billion hours worth of content on it? There’s simply no way to get that big and have humans sit there and examine the content *or the complaints* (which are almost as voluminous).

    The staff at YouTube consists of engineers and physicists who write software. Maybe they have a couple lawyers on hand. So expect the counter complaint process to be very lengthy (I mean, it could be weeks to months before a human even gets around to viewing it). Then, if the complaining party actually exists, now it has to go to court (otherwise the JREF channel will just open again, probably to be taken down the next day by yet another bogus DMCA submission).

    You can’t win the scenario… it’s like trying to wipe out spam.

  83. @ Blake Stacey,

    I suggested the same thing to YouTube in my protest note:

    “Please restore the account of the James Randi Education Foundation. And please consider that your company is rapidly gaining a reputation as being too reactionary in responding to radicals wishing to suppress free speech. I can’t help but think that other video sites will gain a competitive advantage over you eventually if that persists.”

    In other words, this is still the Internet, and some of us still believe in freedom of speech.

  84. Blu-Ray-Ven

    this video has now been mirrored 694 times

  85. Grand Lunar

    Now this REALLY grinds my gears.

    I’m willing to be that creationist votebots are to blame. They seem to be out in force.

    What’s ironic is that this sort of dishonest activity really goes against the very ideals in their book.

    These sort of votebot attacks only work against them. It shows (or should show) people that creationists are outright cowards, and will abuse any system to get their way. They are afraid of the oppisition.

  86. SourBlaze: So do we KNOW that someone forged a DMCA complaint against the JREF under false pretenses? I haven’t seen that on any of the official messages. This is now in its fourth day, and as far as I know, the information blackout is continuing – the information in comment 162 on P.Z. Myers’s post about this is as much new information as I’m aware of. If nobody who knows can tell us what led to this, can they at least tell us WHY they can’t tell us what led to this?

    I’d like information, not speculation, conjecture, guesses, and bets. Until then I’m going to try to do what the president of the JREF asked us to do: be patient. But that’s getting harder and harder to do.

  87. Steve

    Folks, hi,

    From a comment on P.Z. Meyer’s Pharyngula blog relating to the JREF on Google ban:

    “Sean: there were a few complaints about Oprah material and some from Dean Radin, as well. YouTube shut us down pending our resolution of these problems. I expect we’ll be back up very soon…
    James Randi.”

    Looks to be issue with reproducing clip(s) from an Oprah show(s) without permission. But I don’t get why the entire JREF channel got taken down. I thought the whole idea of the DCMA as applies to Google was that you could argue that *specific videos* infringed the holder’s copyright and should be taken down, not that you could get a user’s entire account frozen? If that’s the case, then it’s way too easy to censor someone :-

  88. Steve
  89. Al

    A channel can be taken down *by YouTube* if it is using the service for the purpose of obtaining profit through an affiliate (that is, making a profit for work not *solely* produced by one’s self – ie. “You” Tube [the single automatic exemption]). In that case the account must have written authorization to do so from YouTube which is very difficult to obtain for obvious reasons.

    JRef’s site hosts banner ads. Therefore by promoting, and Mr. Randi being affiliated with an advertisement network, the channel is using a free service for the purpose of obtaining profit through work not entirely produced by the owner of the channel, which is a violation of TAC section 4 subsection blah blah blah (I actually read that section but I forget the specific paragraph’s number).

  90. Steve


    Thanks for the explanation. Just shows how complex these issues can be…

  91. ND


    Interesting hypothesis. Some of the oddest things can have the most mundane explanations 😉

    Those who don’t like JREF could still have brought this to YouTube’s attentions. Let’s see how this story unfolds.

  92. Sticks
  93. Richard

    It’s up and running. And Randi’s announced the Pigasus awards. Congratulations to Jenny McCarthy for winning a catagory. As well as Kevin Trudeau and the fine folks who brought to the world the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Congratulations all for your well-deserved award.

    And by “well-deserved,” I mean a Nelson “Ha-ah!”

    Snooch to your booch, winners!

  94. Al

    Hmm, I just read that “jref-news/505-the-jref-youtube-account-is-back-online.html” and he says it was copyright.

    I’m not entirely sure if Mr. Randi is telling us the whole truth. I’ve posted copyright-protected material before and the videos were instantly removed *from view* and an offer to contest the claim given on each video’s entry. In one case I contested on “Fair Use” grounds (tossed out because of my physical location) and in both cases I argued with the complaining party to withdraw the complaint, but I don’t think the account was ever suspended… maybe it was and I never noticed? I was able sign in and everything appeared to be working except the infringing videos were not viewable.

    Perhaps an account gets suspended when a counter complaint is issued and *not* ignored (meaning an issue is under investigation)?

    Well, anyway… he still should get rid of those banner ads IMHO. Not only do they pose a threat, but they look terrible. Once I got the “You just won 100000$, click here to caim your prize!” ad. Which isn’t advertizing, that’s a misleading false-hope scam. Just the kind of thing is supposedly in opposition to.


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