Extortionists target YouTubers with malicious copyright strike bribes
A YouTube channel that made malicious copyright strikes in an attempt to extort content creators has had its channel deleted.
According to a report by the BBC, Kenzo and ObbyRaidz - both of whom primarily upload Minecraft videos - allegedly received messages demanding money in exchange for dropping the spurious copyright claims lodged against them. The channel demanded payment of $75 to $400 (£60 to £310) be sent via Paypal or Bitcoin in exchange for not lodging a third copyright claim, which - according to Google's terms and conditions - would've seen the channel completely deleted.
hello @TeamYouTube— Kenzo (@KenzoPvP) January 30, 2019
I have two false copyright strikes on my channel & someone out there is extorting me for my money to have the strikes removed. help. pic.twitter.com/pNmzNH34Ff
Rather than give in to the demands, Kenzo took to social media saying "I have two false copyright strikes on my channel & someone out there is extorting me for my money to have the strikes removed. help", after which YouTube got in touch and said it would investigate. Later that same day, YouTube tweeted again, confirming that the takedown notice was "(obviously) abusive", removed the copyright strike, and reinstated the video.
"This is an example of a fraudulent legal request, which we have zero tolerance for, so we also terminated this channel," YouTube added.
Appreciate your patience —we confirmed that this takedown notice was (obviously) abusive. The strike on your channel is resolved and the video is reinstated. This is an example of a fraudulent legal request, which we have zero tolerance for, so we also terminated this channel.— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) January 30, 2019
Google, which owns YouTube, did not respond to a request from the BBC for information on how it hopes to prevent such extortion attempts in the future.
"Anybody can [make spurious copyright claims]. They made it so easy to take somebody's channel down - they strike a few videos and your channel is terminated," said ObbyRaidz in a video posted to his YouTube channel. "The way I look at it, YouTube just put a Band-Aid on a much bigger issue. This is something that can affect more channels in the future and they need to fix this right now."