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YouTube Suddenly Blocks Videos from MIT and Blender

Abrupt shut-downs come as copyright directive goes to an EU vote

By CBR Staff Writer

Open-source 3D computer graphics software company Blender, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and England Rugby are among those who have had their YouTube channels abruptly blocked this week by the video giant.

Why have Videos been Blocked?

According to yesterday’s statement in a video interview, Chairman of the Blender Foundation Ton Roosendall explained that the team is not aware of why the block was enforced: “The latest news is, YouTube blocked our channel. We don’t yet know why, we think it might be because of monetising issues, but the channel is not monetised. Probably it is a stupid bug or an idiot pressing the wrong button.”

MIT Open Courseware videos have also apparently been blocked: “You may have noticed that we are having some trouble with our videos! Please stand by. The elves are working around the clock to fix the issue. There is still a ton of content you can use @MITOCW that doesn’t have video. https://ocw.mit.edu . Hang in there folks!”

Other verified YouTube accounts, such as India’s Press Information Bureau and England Rugby have also been blocked. YouTube has yet to issue a statement, but the issue may be one with its ContentID algorithms and comes as sensitivity to copyright issues heats up ahead of a crucial vote in the European Parliament tomorrow.

Computer Business Review has contacted the company for a comment.

Copyright Algorithms to Blame?

Some analysts suggest that the outages could relate to a new EU copyright directive. (The channels show a message that usually appears only when the content has been restricted to certain countries, except it’s now appearing for everyone.)

The European Union’s proposed copyright directive heads to a vote in the European parliament tomorrow (20 June). Under its provisions, any service that allows users to post text, sound, or video for public consumption must implement automatic filters to scan for copyrighted works, censoring those that don’t make the cut.

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which details the many amendments to the legislation here, notes that it would impose an upload filtering mandate on Internet platforms (Article 13) and a link tax in favor of news publishers (Article 11).

The NGO says: “These proposals benefit large publishers, but punish those who use the Internet as an open platform for sharing and innovation.”

Neither firm (MIT nor Blender) has released a restoration date for video access, which may indicate that instead of this being a mistake, it could be a deeper algorithmic issue within YouTube’s algorithms. YouTube’s imperfect ContentID system may, perhaps, be to blame. Whatever the reason, it is a reminder that it is not just gaming live-streamers but reputable publications like MIT’s that can be impacted by overzealous algos.

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