When Youtube takes down your video, it’s not necessarily defaming you.

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youtube violationBARTHOLOMEW v. YOUTUBE

In this case, the appellate court was  asked to decide whether a musician stated a claim for libel per quod against the popular video viewing Web site, YouTube. When YouTube decided to block access to Joyce Bartholomew’s video, it posted a statement that the video had violated YouTube’s terms of service, a statement which also provided a hyperlink to a list of examples and tips, a list YouTube called its “Community Guideline Tips.” In her complaint, Bartholomew alleged that both the statement notifying users that her video had been taken down and the Community Guideline Tips subsection harmed her reputation. The trial court sustained YouTube’s demurrer to the sole cause of action, libel per quod, without leave to amend. Bartholomew appeals.

Unfortunately, for the plaintiff in this case, because she could not link any of the items in the violation statement directly to her or by innuendo, her claim failed.  Moreover, and for the same reason, simply removing her video with, “the image of a distressed face and the following written statement. . . . ‘This video has been removed because its content violated YouTube’s Terms of Service.’ ” was not itself defamatory because [] the statement, “incorporated the Youtube Community Guidelines, they also incorporate a privacy policy from Google. They also include such requirements as allowing YouTube to update the user’s “YouTube Uploader,” (¶ 4.G), and prohibit such things as using YouTube for commercial purposes without prior written consent (¶ 4.D).”  Again, taken altogether, the Court held, “Given the sheer breadth of the items covered in YouTube’s terms of service, and even taking into consideration Bartholomew’s profession, we do not think that the removal statement can be deemed to subject her to “hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or [cause her] to be shunned or avoided” or tend to “injure [her] in [her] occupation.” (Cal. Civ. Code § 45.).

And, with that, the plaintiff’s case was thrown out.

Eric Papp, Esq. 

Visit us at: www.ca-nvlaw.com

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