YouTube punishes copyright offenders with animated pirate cat

April 15, 2011

Some people breach copyright intentionally. Some do it by mistake. Either way, YouTube has decided the solution is to patronize them.

In an adjustment to it’s three-strikes-and-your-banned-for life policy, the site is now requiring alleged offenders to watch a four minute “re-education” movie featuring an animated cat, then complete a four-question multiple choice exam. Only then can the user upload clips again.

I say “animated cat.” Obviously I mean “animated cat who is dressed as a pirate and operates a touchscreen phone despite having a hook for a hand.” The movie gives the an example of inadvertent copyright infringement, namely the cat using the phone to record the screen in a movie theatre and uploading the clip. To be fair, anyone who does this and genuinely doesn’t realize it’s a breach of copyright is probably best communicated with via the medium of cartoons.

The quiz is simple enough stuff, though one question is oddly worded. The site claims the statement “Creating 100 percent original new content for YouTube will help to protect you against claims of copyright infringement” is true rather than false. I have to admit that  I got this question wrong, having misinterpreted it as meaning “stick a few legit clips up and it’ll count in your favor when you get busted for the other ones.”

Fortunately successful completion of “Copyright School” doesn’t actually take any account of whether you get the questions correct. Still, I guess that won’t stop some smartass who goes through the process claiming to be a Google-approved qualified copyright law expert.

As well as receiving whatever education comes from animated anthropomorphism, users who go through the process may also have one of their previous “strikes” removed. YouTube says this isn’t guaranteed in all cases, but will usually happen when one copyright infringement took place a long time ago, with an extended period of good behavior in the meantime.

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