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Does YouTube Have a Problem with Breastfeeding Videos?

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sara over at Suburban Oblivion (I love that blog name) dropped me an email today to point out a post at the League of Maternal Justice.

The post is a press release claiming YouTube has "banned" a breastfeeding advocacy video they uploaded. Here's a snippet:

A mom-produced internet protest video attacking Facebook's banning of breastfeeding pictures was itself banned by the popular video sharing service Youtube after gaining recognition as the top-five most discussed of its day. A group of moms called Youtube's action hypocritical and harmful, and pointed to dozens of sexually explicit and harmful videos currently allowed on the service. The moms also pointed to a number of state laws specifically stating that public breastfeeding was not inappropriate.

The video is available for viewing on the League of Maternal Justice site and is well worth watching. It's basically a compilation of images of mothers nursing their children.

The video is no longer available on the YouTube site. Running a search for the direct name of the video brings up an error message:



Now, I'd note the text used here. It says "this video has been removed due to terms of use violations."

When I read that, my first thought was not "YouTube hates breastfeeding moms!" it was "hmm...let's go look at the terms of use." After all, YouTube removes videos all the time. (Especially lately when they've been under intense fire for copyright issues.) My second thought was "hmm...isn't that Christina Aguilera singing the soundtrack?

If you look at the YouTube TOS, you'll find the following under Section 6: Your User Submissions and Conduct:

B. You shall be solely responsible for your own User Submissions and the consequences of posting or publishing them. In connection with User Submissions, you affirm, represent, and/or warrant that: you own or have the necessary licenses, rights, consents, and permissions to use and authorize YouTube to use all patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights in and to any and all User Submissions to enable inclusion and use of the User Submissions in the manner contemplated by the Website and these Terms of Service.

Now, I didn't figure the LoMJ has purchased licensing rights to Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" which runs as the soundtrack to the video, so it made perfect sense to me that the song might be the issue. Obviously, the LoMJ isn't the only group swiping music or video and posting it without owning the rights, but based on the amount of traffic the video had generated (more than 90k views according to the LoMJ's press release) it probably got in front of a review panel a lot more quickly.

Wanting to get the full story, I dropped an email to Julie and Kristen to ask them about the music issue and to see if they'd heard anything else from YouTube. They told me they'd received an email notice citing "inappropriate content" as the reason for the video's removal. The email didn't state what the inappropriate content was and it mentioned nothing about copyright infringement, so the duo assumed it was the breastfeeding that was the issue.

I can see how they might jump to that conclusion, but I'm not sure I agree with them. "Inappropriate content" could be defined as anything that violates their terms of service, including copyright issues. Since YouTube is pretty well known for letting almost anything be uploaded in terms of content, I'm going to take the logical route and assume it's the song.

Remember, as much as breastfeeding moms are used to being stomped on, it pays to take the time to make sure it's the breastfeeding that's the issue. Nothing makes the movement lose credibility faster than jumping to conclusions and going to war against those who were never opposed to us in the first place.

Julie and Kristen tell me they plan to recut the video with new, properly licensed music and to upload it again. If it's removed a second time, they'll let me know. If I find out YouTube IS removing content simply because it contains imagery of breastfeeding moms, I'll be one of the first in line to join the fight. Until then, I say we all calm down and wait to get confirmation of what the issue really is here.

Labels:

  1. Blogger Fat Lady | 12:32 PM |  

    I haven't looked at the video in question yet. But I did want to point out that if you do a search on "breastfeeding" on YouTube a number of videos show up which explicitly show women nursing babies and children - including instructional videos and a video of a woman nursing her 8 year old child. I would guess that if YouTube had problems with breastfeeding videos in general that some or all of these would not be up there.

  2. Blogger Eilat | 12:59 PM |  

    Here's an idea:

    Christina Aguilera is pregnant. Maybe they can ask her to give them permission to use the song in their video and that way she can also be a spokesperson for breastfeeding. Wouldn't that be great?
    Of course she probably doesn't own the rights to her own songs. But it would be great to get such a celebrity endorsement. (I'm assuming she plans to bf... but I have no idea)

  3. Blogger Hootchie Scooter Mama | 1:58 PM |  

    They used to not allow anything related to breastfeeding. Remember the super awesome video of the woman doing yoga and her baby toddles up to her and nurses? They had yanked it for awhile, now you can get to it if you confirm your birthdate as acceptably old enough. Totally ridiculous in my opinion - as a breastfed baby wouldn't be considered acceptably old enough but hey, at least its available.

    Video is here by the way:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=WqZCYCUcfGs

  4. Blogger Andrew | 6:11 PM |  

    The problem with YouTube is that their decisions seem to be so arbitrary (and there's no appeals process as far as I know, except perhaps DMCA counter-notifications in certain cases).

    We have a few videos on YouTube, some of which have been viewed a similar number of times to this one (though over a longer period). They are of pole dancing - for exercise, no nudity or stripping - but one of them was marked as containing adult content. To me, it looks just like the others. I'm guessing someone reported it, a bored YouTube staffer watched a couple of frames and almost randomly clicked the restrict button.

    It's possible that if they uploaded the same vid again they'd have no issues at all, and the problem here was caused by 'noise' in the system, not misguided corporate policy or copyright. I'd certainly like to think so, anyway.

    PS Ooh, don't copyright claims on YouTube normally say so? Like this one (used to be this):

    This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by British Broadcasting Corporation

  5. Anonymous Paula | 5:38 AM |  

    Hi! I have been reading your blog for awhile and I have never commented.

    I actually checked youtube recently and the Sesame St. breastfeeding episode you had once mentioned has been removed. A similar Mr. Rogers episode isn't there either (don't know if it was never posted there or it had been removed). It irritated me and I actually wrote about it on my own blog just the other day.

    Thanks for all you do for breastfeeding moms!

    ~Paula
    www.homeschoolblogger.com/thebutterflyschool

  6. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 5:43 AM |  

    Paula,

    That's a bummer, though again, it could be copyright issues rather than breastfeeding related issues. YouTube has been working hard to clean up its act since Google bought it and unfortunately, the more popular a video becomes, the more likely it is to get noticed by the clean up squad.

    I'll be very interested to hear the final word on this one.

  7. Anonymous elderberryjam | 7:15 AM |  

    This website explains all the players in copyright laws on music:

    http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/music-royalties3.htm

    I made a tape a few years back of songs I liked but were not original. I didn't thoroughly undertand the biz; and tried to pay the owners individually as a few in the business told me was required. I ended up corresponding with some managers, and even got an email signed by Joni Mitchell.

    There were only 200 copies made - it was a small fundraiser. I discovered that I probably never had to pay royalties at all. But I learned an awfully lot!

    The studio I recorded at used one of my songs on a 9/11 fundraiser CD. They used one of two middleman agencies, The Harry Fox Agency, to pay royalties. They did not get express permission to use the song before selling the CD, and they paid the wrong person, and listed the wrong rights on the CD as well. She gave permission to sell the song without royalties for a good cause, but she wanted the label corrected, and the studio was too caught up in getting it out and never fixed it. Her one request was to have a copy of everything her songs were on, and I sent them to her.

    Most of the contacts I made were through official websites of the singer. If Christina Aguilera is a breastfeeding supporter, and you email her official legal website address what happened, she very well might not only give permission, but may get involved herself. Or she could also say, "No, take it off."

    I think it is worth a shot for the people doing the U-Tube video to ask her personally through correspondance. Make sure to title the email appropriately so they know it isn't just fan mail.

    Gwen

  8. Blogger Melissa | 1:14 PM |  

    If Prince can get a video of an 18 month old dancing, pulled because of 30 seconds of his music in the background... well, nothing surprises me about YouTube anymore.

    But my money is on copyright, especially if Universal is her label, they are really about reporting stuff and getting it down.

  9. Blogger JudyBright | 1:39 PM |  

    It seems like the YouTube policies are evolving, and they're not really reliable right now. A lot of people that use YouTube frequently have issues with why videos are removed and accounts suspended. It's not just for copyright violations either.

  10. Anonymous elderberryjam | 8:56 AM |  

    Even if Universal is the label she sells under, every agreement with a singer is individual. Many writers retain the right to give permission to use their songs. A big studio might be all about pulling illegal use, but an individual artist, if they have a right to, can still say, "Okay," and supercede the studio. I sure as heck would retain that right with ANYTHING I sold.

  11. Blogger Motherhood Uncensored | 8:01 PM |  

    Just wanted to let you know that YouTube apologized and reinstated our original breastfeeding video.

    (www.leagueofmaternaljustice.com)

    Apparently it was removed "in error."

    Kristen
    League of Maternal Justice

  12. Blogger The Shepherds | 4:01 PM |  

    The message from YouTube is the same message I received for a hockey montage using a popular song. I'm leaning toward the music being the culprit. I hope they don't change the name when they upload the video again - I'll look for the video to confirm my suspicion. Great post!

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