Short version: YouTube has removed one of my videos from the service with no explanation. I suspect politics.
Long version: A couple of years ago, while digitizing old 8mm and Super 8 film for my family, came across footage my father had shot on board the Coast Guard Cutter Chautauqua in 1957 — footage of a hazing ritual that sailors have gone through for centuries on their first crossing of the International Date Line or Equator. I posted the video on YouTube, and it’s been viewed more than 25,000 times since then.
A few weeks ago, received a note from a reader saying that the YouTube video had been removed for “Violation of Terms of Service.” Since the video is 100% original and involves no copyright violation of any kind, I immediately contacted YouTube, asking for an explanation. I’ve sent two follow-up messages in the past two weeks, but have yet to receive a response from the service.
There was another possibility. E! Entertainment contacted me a year ago, saying that they were preparing a documentary feature on hazing rituals, and asked for permission to reproduce the footage on TV. With Dad’s permission, I signed and faxed them an agreement, allowing them to do so. Wondered whether fine print in the agreement had given E! any exclusive rights, so looked over the contract. Didn’t appear so, but called them to be sure; they assured me that they had had no involvement whatsoever in the YouTube takedown, and that I retained the rights to the footage.
So the likeliest explanation is that the video was flagged by a YouTube user as being inappropriate, and YouTube responded by removing the video without questioning/viewing/thinking. But what exactly is it about the video that violates their terms of service? Maybe it reflects poorly on the military. Maybe it shows how weird human beings can be to each other. But I doubt the YouTube EULA prohibits display of seamen having their faces smeared in used engine oil, crawling through troughs of garbage, and being sprayed down with fire hoses.
At this point it’s a mystery. I’ve given up waiting for YouTube to respond to my inquiries, and have re-posted the video on Vimeo (amazing UI!). Here it is: