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Vox Media’s PC Build False Copyright Claims

on February 26 | in Best Practices, Featured | by | with No Comments

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Rich @ ReviewTechUSA’s Critique of the Vox Media PC Build

Background on Vox Media’s PC Build

Vox Media’s PC Build was a video published by Vox Media on their subsidiary account titled “The Verge” in September of 2018. The Verge produces content for tech news. The video, which showed people how to build a computer for gaming, editing, and coding.

If you are not in the tech community you may find this story very bizarre. Especially when the video was posted 5 months ago. The reasoning dates back to September. ReviewTechUSA and Bitwit – two youtube tech channels – made videos that criticized Vox Media’s PC Build. Rich from ReviewTechUSA produced a 30 minute live stream critiquing the PC build (see the video above) while Kyle (Bitwit) produced a video reacting to the build.

Vox Media’s PC build received high amounts negative criticisms from other content creators online as well – due to poor building techniques. One of which was when the builder put the computers power supply in to the PC. He angled it so the fan would face the inner case – making the computer unable to cool the power supply. In Rich’s video he sarcastically states, “Make sure the fan is right against the frame so it can’t circulate air”.

The negative critiques continues in both videos due to many errors. Vox Media stayed silent despite the negative backlash. Until two weeks ago in 2019 – 5 months since the videos debut.

False Claims by Vox – The Law

Vox Media decided to copyright claim the two videos in February 2019. They claimed that they both have infringed upon the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.  This caused both of the critiques to be unavailable on Youtube resulting in a copyright strike on the channels.

This was 5 months after the videos were posted. It was clearly an attempt to use their corporate “power” on Youtube to try to sweep negative press under the rug. Both Rich’s and Kyle’s videos fell under fair use.

The specific section of the DMCA is – “Commenting on and Critiquing Copyrighted Material“. In Youtube’s rules it sites the DMCA law, “Video makers have the right to use as much of the original work as they need to in order to put it under some kind of scrutiny. Comment and critique are at the very core of the fair use doctrine as a safeguard for freedom of expression…In the case of negative commentary, the fact that the critique itself may do economic damage to the market for the quoted work (as a negative review or a scathing piece of ridicule might) is irrelevant.”

This left both Youtubers with strikes on their accounts. Which limits the functionality of the website and their access to advertisers.

Youtube Takes Action

Upon further manual review, Youtube deemed Vox Media’s copyright claims to be false. They allowed the videos to be available again and the strikes to be lifted. However, they had to be manually lifted. On Youtube this is very rare to go in favor of the smaller channels.

Vox’s Damage Control

The two content creators got their videos back. The problem for Vox was that news had already broke. People flooded to Vox’s pages and began questioning their actions.

In a post on the Verge’s website Vox Media’s lawyers posted a response article on the Vox Media’s PC Build fiasco. They state, “Those two reaction videos used 90 percent of our footage without any edits, cuts, or otherwise transformative use.” Instead of admitting their mistake, they stuck to their guns.

The Aftermath

These creators did follow transformative use when referencing Vox Media’s PC build. They wanted people to know that the Verge is not a good source for building your PC. It is unethical for the Verge to target these two producers because of the negative remarks. Furthermore, it is the ethical responsibility of the company to not mislead viewers into how to build a computer when they cannot. If it is not your expertise don’t claim to be an expert on it. Lastly, it is even more unethical for the Verge to not apologies to these creators.


This mishap caused Vox Media to fall into the Streisand Effect. It brought negative attention to an old video. This attention caused bad pressed and resulted in the Verge removing the Vox Media PC Build video.

Takeaways

When trying to deal with negative remarks reach out to those that are saying them. That way you can address the issues. Do not try to brush them under the rug and go through hoops to get rid of their options. Otherwise the backlash will be much worse on your company.

I also think that Youtube should punish companies that unethically use the copyright strike function of their website. Content creators should not be bullied by corporations like this. Vox Media has yet to apologies and the negativity will never go away.

How your company would have approached this scenario. Do you think Vox is in the right? Also, do you think Youtube needs stricture reals for companies making claims? Let me know down below in the comments!

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