Why My YouTube Account Was Terminated

The short answer is, I don’t know.

The closest thing YouTube has given me to a long answer is: “This account has been suspended due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy against spam, gaming, misleading content, or other Terms of Service violations.”

That doesn’t sound like an accurate description of anything I’ve ever used YouTube’s services for.

My history with YouTube is pretty benign. For a couple years after signing up a YouTube account, I didn’t use it for anything but managing subscriptions and favorites. Then I bought a cheap USB screen capture dongle thing and, to test it out, uploaded a silly video of some dancing dogs from Suikoden. Maybe a year or so after that, just to prove to a guy on Talking Time that I could do it, I recorded myself beating Ring Man in Mega Man IV without any weapons and without getting hit. And then, since I had a microphone laying around, I recorded myself talking over Mega Man III. Then I did a couple more games, included an obscure Game Boy title called Shantae. That one got watched by the game’s creators, who linked up my YouTube channel on their blog and gave me more subscribers than I ever imagined I could get.

It’s been a lot of fun. Making and uploading Let’s Play videos has been the most rewarding hobby I’ve ever had. I’ve had lots of webpages and blogs and indie game projects and forums and things, but I had never had a real audience, and that made all the difference to me. It’s a good feeling knowing that a thousand people like some thing you made.

Let’s Plays exist in a kind of murky legal space. Nobody’s really sure whether they are covered under Fair Use, largely because nobody’s ever challenged them in court. I believe nobody has ever challenged them because, from the game company’s point of view, an LP series is at worst a harmless derivative work, and at best free advertising. That being said, it’s still possible that a game company could come along and slap an LP with a copyright claim. This is something we just sort of live with, just like people who write fan fiction or make unofficial sequels or remakes. In fan communities, authors or companies that actively hunt down fan works are considered draconian.

Since there’s no official set of rules to making LPs while staying within the bounds of copyright law, I’ve always adhered to a few unofficial ones:

  1. Never LP a game that isn’t at least one year old. Putting up complete gameplay videos of brand new games has always seemed tacky to me, Fair Use or no. This is why I let my blind run of Mega Man 10 chill on my hard drive for a year before uploading it. I have a blind run of Journey chilling right now for the same reason.
  2. Keep the videos family friendly. Vulgar videos are more likely to be flagged, and besides, I liked the thought of little kids enjoying my videos along with their gamer parents. (I know of at least one case where this has happened, and it made me feel all warm and squishy inside.)
  3. If a video was ever flagged or removed, do not contest it. No matter what, I had to remember that I was uploading copyrighted material, and that the copyright holder had every right to remove that material if they so chose. Lots of YouTubers just re-upload the video (sometimes to the same account!), which struck me as petty and stupid.

I never held any illusions that these things would protect me forever, but there are a lot of LPers on YouTube who skirt the copyright lines a lot more dangerously than I ever did. Never once, though, have I had a video flagged or removed for copyright reasons. I’ve received a few copyright notices, little automated responses from YouTube saying “Hey, this might be a problem, but it might not, so don’t worry about it for now.” I think I accumulated three of these over 700+ videos.

These notices, by the way, are not the same as “strikes”. When your account receives a strike, that means that a copyright holder has filed a complaint against your content and the content was pulled. Three of these, and the account is terminated permanently. This has never happened to any of my videos. If it had, I would have removed every video from that LP series, as well as every LP series of a game by that company. And then I might have taken a six-month-long hiatus from uploading new series, since that’s how long it takes for a strike to go away.

The truth is I don’t know why the account was terminated. YouTube didn’t offer any warning or explanation. There are several appeal forms at various parts on the YouTube site — and I found a couple more doing research into people whose accounts were similarly banned. I filled all these out to the best of my ability. Some of the articles and conversations my research turned up implied that I could wait forever for a response and never get one. Others say their accounts were reinstated after various periods of time. I have no idea where on that line my situation falls. A couple of these resources mentioned writing an open letter to YouTube to plead your case, so that’s what I’m doing now.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think my termination had anything to do with copyright violations. I had a screwy moment logging into Google early today saying there had been “suspicious activity” on my account. I immediately verified my account using my cell phone, changed the password, and purged a couple of websites linked to my Google login that I no longer use. It wasn’t until I tried refreshing my YouTube window that I was informed my account was gone. It’s possible my account became compromised somehow.

I’m also aware that it’s YouTube’s policy to “ban first, ask questions later”. There are lots of complaints of innocent folks getting their accounts banned because of users falsely flagging their videos. If, say, a bunch of people went through my Mega Man videos and flagged them inappropriate for hate speech or pornography, YouTube’s robots would ban the account automatically. This doesn’t strike me as particularly likely, though, because it would require me to have some really malicious enemies… and quite frankly I’m not that interesting.

It’s also been pointed out that last week I uploaded a video with no purpose other than to plug a friend’s Kickstarter project, and that might run up against one of YouTube’s meaningful content terms. I don’t think this is very likely either, though, because that video stayed up until this point without incident, and if it had been in violation I would think the violation would be minor enough to merit a strike rather than immediate termination. But, again, I have no way of knowing.

My message to YouTube: Please re-instate my account as soon as possible. If the termination was a mistake, please correct it and you will have my gratitude. If it was in response to a copyright claim, please inform me which video is the offender so I can remove it and all the ones related to it. If the account cannot be reinstated, at least tell me what went wrong.

I have never made a dime from uploading Let’s Play videos; it is a hobby, pure and simple. I have received many offers from dubious “gaming networks” who wanted to monetize my videos, but I have ignored them all. Part of your mission statement is to give people a platform to showcase their skills and talents. Well, my skills and talents begin and end at playing video games and being capable of witty banter. That may sound strange but about a thousand people seemed to really enjoy it. It brightened their lives and it brightened mine too. I would like to keep doing it.

My message to my subscribers: I don’t know what this all means for the future of my Let’s Plays. If my account is not reinstate then my oldest stuff, like Shantae and Secret of Evermore, is simply gone forever. As for the rest of the stuff, it may or may not appear on another video site at a future date. As for the current series, Shiren and Risky’s Revenge, I will try and make it a priority to make them available, if possible.

If you have the means, please try and politely let YouTube know that you would like to see my account reinstated. There is no way I know of to contact YouTube directly via e-mail or the website, but you can spread the word about my ban and why you’d like to see it lifted by hitting your social media of choice and pointing people to this blog post. Better yet, you can upload a video to YouTube with an open letter of your own. If nothing else, the show of solidarity will do me good!

Above all, I want to thank everyone who watched and enjoyed my videos. I never wanted anything from you guys except your eyeballs, and I really loved having the chance to entertain so many people for so long by doing the silly kind of stuff I’ve been doing on my own since I was a kid. I know I have done a lot to entertain folks, and to introduce them to games they wouldn’t have played, and to help them experience games they didn’t want to play, and to teach them something about gaming history as I understand it.

Thank you for reading, and fingers crossed that this whole thing blows over quickly.

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54 comments to Why My YouTube Account Was Terminated

  • No! Oh no! I hope they will undo the ban! Your LP of Shantae are the best thing I’ve seen on Youtube and it literally saved me from jumping in front of a train when I was in a very, very bad place 3,5 years ago. I’ve seen it many times and I think I’ve downloaded it as well to have on my iPod.
    You’ve done nothing wrong, it might be some asshole whom flagged one of your videos that’s to blame for this.
    I support you, no matter what and I truly hope you’ll get back on Youtube and can make other wonderful LP’s!
    Loads of love and support from your biggest fan in Norway!

  • Mitch

    I think I actually found you through your Mega Man 3 at 147% speed or however fast it was, and I was hooked from there. Hopefully this whole thing is just some large misunderstanding and your account will come back soon. At the very least, I hope you find out why your account got canned. It made me very sad seeing that generic microphone-for-a-face next to your channel link. Thanks for all the awesome gaming vids you’ve done and, hopefully, here’s to more *raises glass of Pepsi*!

  • This is just wrong. You are the first LPer I ever watched, after my girlfriend(LARvonCL, I believe you will hear something from her as well) introduced me to your videos 2 years ago, and you are still, by far, my favorite. By having a job requiring me to sit next to my computer for hours each day, it has been a wonder listening to your comments again and again.

    Just hoping Youtube reinstates everything. My money is on something going wrong on their part, as other LPers I follow, with much more offensive content and language than you, are still around kicking. Know about other youtubers being terminated for something stupid, then returning because it was some mistake, so all hope is not out the window…
    If not…I dare not think if not. Your videos have been a comfort as well as a source of wonderful entertainment for the last two years. If nothing gets fixed, your biggest…and second biggest fans from Norway, will be really sad.

  • Erilex

    I freaked out when I noticed your channel seemed to have mysteriously disappeared from my subscription list (it’s a pretty short list, so it’s absence was immediately obvious). Your LPs are great. The Spelunky one is my personal favorite, and I’ve been awaiting each new installment of Dion’s misadventures anxiously. I hope you get this sorted out somehow. Best of luck!

  • eKat

    Ugg crap, and I was considering to rewatch your LP of Myst as well. I thought it was quite inspiring, and your LP had the best quality of them all in my opinion.

    I really hope that your account is reinstated ASAP!

  • I really don’t know you, but I found about what happened through reddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/letsplay/comments/xulo2/my_favourite_lets_player_had_his_account_almost/) and you have my support. I’ll try to propagate the message ahead. I have no idea what caused this, but for me it looks like the work of a Troll – it could be either someone doing it for the lulz, someone jealous of your work or something like that.

    The language of the reply (“This account has been suspended due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy against spam, gaming, misleading content, or other Terms of Service violations.”) seems like you got a ton of reports at once – which does indicate that someone either targeted your or you became a random victim.

    I do recommend though you try to dispute what happened through this form: http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/request.py?contact_type=accountdisabled&hl=en-US.
    And you should try going to youtube’s support forum and pleading your case there.

    Now on a side note dude, if you get your account back and get an invitation from a gaming network… join it. I know that your intention is not monetize your videos but those networks have the influence and legal ways necessary to protect you.

  • fanboymaster

    I’ve got the first 19 parts of Evermore, for all the good that does, it’s all encoded in a non-native resolution (I had set them up on my PSP) too, but I suppose it’s better than nothing should the worst case scenario arise, anything less than 20 or so parts I have in full so long as it was produced before June of 2011.

  • Jeremy

    Here’s hoping you get reinstated quickly! I started watching part 10 of Risky’s Revenge (which I bought thanks in part to your original Shantae LP) this morning. I came home to watch the rest this evening, and found the video replaced with a :/ slide in its place. For what it’s worth, I thoroughly enjoyed your witty banter over the years. I will do some research and write a letter to youtube. Hopefully, we can help get your appeal pushed to the top of the stack!

  • DFalcon

    My money is on account hijacking – those “suspicious activity” tags aren’t supposed to be given out lightly. Best of luck.

  • Contact Partner Support… mark it urgent. If you didn’t genuinely violate anything (which it doesn’t seem like you did), your channel should be back up within a week. No need to crowd-source, or message-bomb anyone with campaigns or anything.

  • Mumphadumf

    http://www.ehow.com/how_4917393_contact-youtube.html gives a phone number and address, but that may be taking it too far. However, there doesn’t seem to be any other way to contact Youtube. You’d think for a website as big as them, they would have a better customer support system.

    But hopefully tomorrow they realize and revert the channel. Does anyone know if this message means that all the videos are gone, or if they are just locked away from the viewers, safely hidden in Google HQ?

  • Nobody

    NO! This is outrageous! It cannot be allowed!
    There is nothing wrong with your videos, I watched them all and I know that.

    If you try to reply to YT, may be you get an answer, but if I were you I’d create a new account and upload all the material you have in your backups (if you have some) and start again if you see that YT policy takes to long.

    By the way, register now the ‘brickroad’ username in YT and start all over. RIGHT NOW!

  • Mulderman

    Well fuck.

    Unfortunatly I’ve seen cases like this before and the outcome has pretty much always been the same. In the best cases the person who’s account got terminated was able to start a new channel after a couple of weeks. I certainly hope this is not the case and somehow you’re able to get your account back. But dealing with Youtube seems to be as effective as trying to get a tree to walk.

  • Lys

    I could have verified the Ring Man victory — I didn’t believe it until I saw it in person, either! I hope you land back on your LP feet, Brick. I’m sure you will!

  • phantom

    This is why I despise Google’s faceless and Kafkaesque nature. Every time I visit those Google support forums I get a shudder down my spine. It feels as if the whole operation isn’t even run by actual humans, just mindless automatons.

    I’m with Blackbeard and DFalcon, somebody must have exploited the hippo-sized holes in Youtube’s flagging policy and got you automatically banned, or the YoutubeBots marked your kickstarter video as OMG EVIL AL QAEDA TERROR SPAM11111

    Everybody’s guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of Google. Fuck them, fight this!

    • DFalcon

      Not really what I said. It’s not exactly a hippo-sized hole in Youtube’s flagging policy if somebody actually used his account to spam, for instance. =/

  • Nobody

    That’s why a ‘flag button’ should not be allowed without some user reputation. A system like stackexchage would make youtube a much better place… but we cannot deal with that…

    If I were a LPer I’d be frustated. You deserve your account back,
    I cannot imagine a world without brickroad’s LPs. :~(

  • Pieemperor

    Oh man Brickroad I’m so sorry. I’ve been following for 4 years now and have always looked forward to your next video. I’ve literally watched every single LP you had on your channel and always found every single one entertaining. Hopefully this will all be sorted out quickly, if nto I will follow you to wherever you decide to take up post for your LPs. If I may suggest a site just in case, blip.tv is rwally good to lper’s. Good Luck brickroad and keep on doing your awesome stuff!

  • Shifter

    Thought one: BULLSHIT
    (checks YouTube)
    Thought two: DAMNIT
    Thought three: well… What can I do?
    (looks into contacting YouTube)
    Thought four: GODDAMNIT
    Thought five: I’m not influential enough to get you recognition, but I’m rooting for you man! Hey, I should actually write that out.

    Current thought reached. Terminate.

  • TalentNinjaInc

    This is outrageous. I think it’s clear where we all stand here.

    Brick, i support you, and if there is any way you can continue making videos in the future, please do so.

    You were my introduction into the realm of LP’s, and you are a simply amazing comedian. Don’t be shy with those updates now! Let us know whats going down!

  • Nobody

    I feel I can’t breath… need… some.. LPs… b-by.. brick….roaad…!

  • TheGangstagnome

    Aw, man, I really hope this all blows over and you get your account back, brickroad! I was in the middle of rewatching your Shantae run for something like the third time and I had no idea anything had happened until I went to check out the next video this afternoon and it was just…gone. Even if you don’t get your account back, I hope YouTube at least gives you an explanation of what you did to merit such swift and decisive action on their part with no warning or anything else.

    You’ve always been my favourite Let’s Player, man, and I’ve always shown your videos to my friends who were looking for something new to spend time watching when they should have been doing homework or studying for a test. Going through your catalogue of Let’s Plays over the summer has been a tradition of mine for the past two or three years, honestly. I know it won’t mean much, but I want you to know that I’m pulling for you.

    Hails from Michigan.

  • Just wanted to chime in and say the termination of your You Tube channel is a sad, sad thing. I’ve very much enjoyed your LPs. Here’s hoping the situation can be resolved with a minimum of bloodshed.

  • Dave

    I hope you get your channel back, you choose great games and have fun commentary.

  • Clasher

    Just a question. Have you been suspended on August 1st ?
    Myself and alot of other people were suspended for the same reason.

  • Issun

    I sincerely hope you can get your channel back. You’re one of the good ones, Brick.

  • Tuxlar

    I bet it was because you put those vg songs in one of your recent Shiren videos, it picked it up as copyright music, and bam.

    Google really needs a financial incentive to improve their system…

  • Nobody

    I expect YouTube give you a personalized apology.

  • Rosewood

    I’m a more recent fan of Brick’s videos, having subscribed less than a year ago. I’ve enjoyed the vast majority of the videos–the super-sped ones are beyond me for a couple of reasons, but I’ve loved the rest, even (or even especially!) the really really long ones like Shantae or Secret of Evermore. The ban was a shock to me, too.

    Check me off as one adult without children who appreciates your mostly cuss-free videos. Screaming and/or seeing how many F-bombs can be crammed into the smallest space is a sure way to get me to find some other, more pleasant LP to watch.

    Best wishes on getting your account back. Here’s hoping for good news soon.

  • I hope you get your channel back as well Brick. You were the first LPer that I found on Youtube and you’re still one of my favorites. You actually inspired me to start doing my own stuff on there! If there is anything you need from your fanbase, I know I’ll be more than happy to help!

  • Chris

    Man, I never thought I’d be this sad over a youtube channel being taken down. I’ve been hooked to your LPs ever since I saw a post from my forums linked to your Spelunky run, and in many ways, since then, I’ve considered you the ONLY LPer. You were underrated to the very end, which is probably the part that makes me saddest. : Bro, as others have said, if there’s anything any of us can do, let us know. Best of luck!

  • phantom

    I’m still pissed about this. There is no justice according to whatever cruel God controls the internet.

  • aceina

    this just upsets me its not fiar ure a great lper one of my faves i bought shante riskys revegne based soley on ure lp of the first game

    i enjoy your owrk ure just a simple fun lovin guy and thats what so great about you

    i love your speed up plays and eveyr thing

    i hope u get ure channel back and if not make anew channel to cont to share your art with us

  • narcodis

    Given how many hours of entertainment these LPs provided me, I’d be willing to chip in some cash to help get whatever needs to happen to allow Brickroad to host his own LPs up and running. If you set up a paypal for donations or anything Brick, you’ll let us know?

  • phantom

    Alright, I know I’m basically obsessing over this and all, but one last comment:

    in the very likely worst case scenario that you never get your channel back, if possible you should rewrite those witty little summaries of each episode, like “Part 3: Wherein ______” and so on, on whatever site you choose to host them again. Those were the best.

  • Nobody

    Leave YT! Start your own personal video site, brickroad.com in the land of awesomeness!

  • Greg

    Funny enough, it was through the HalfBlindGamer’s recommendation that i came upon your youtube channel. Then i got well into the lets plays, then the vlogs, then scibbe.com, then the peemiester blog. Man, the amount of chuckles and grins I cracked along the way up until now, priceless! I hope YouTube come to their senses because this is a bloody joke. Constantly promoting the airheads with a billion jumpcuts per minute and them just deleting others indiscriminately without informing them! Bah. Well, rant over. Peace, love and good vibes from London, England!

  • Pieemperor

    Hey Brickroad has there been any sort of update since the original message? I’d assume you’d make a post, but just curious if you’ve recieved anything back from youtube.

  • A Sad Icelander

    ting from IAt first (about August 7) i thought you had actually died or something and i almost startad to cry. But now i tryed Googling you and saw this blog and i was/am outrageous at youtube for trambling on your innocense. Wish you the best of luck. Greetings from iceland.

  • max lee

    same thing happened to me bud youtube gives u bs automated messages terminating ur account. i lost 1830 videos 32,000 subscribers i even talked to youtube partners team in person they simply said they werent responsible for terminated accounts that another department takes care of it.

    you will never get ur account back its waste of ur time just move on and dont trust youtube ever again.

    my youtube acct zedomax is lost forever six years of 1830 vids gone just like that no valid explanation from youtube other than automated messages.

    something is up for sure and its happening to more and more people they probably have a flawed review system so whatever. go on with ur life, i m sure karma will strike them soon.

  • Katherine

    Hey Sorry to hear you lost your account. I was playing suikoden for the 739373899th time and found your guide. I read through your suikoden guide, I noticed you seem to have the same thoughts as me about each character. Made me laugh so much. Usually all suikoden guides sound the same. I know… I have to use a guide… Terrible. Sorry for the bad grammar. Going to check out the rest of this now… Heh. (Katherine from Australia)

  • Anonymous

    The fact is youtubes system does this not based on actual infringement but based on infringement claims alone. And if you get enough of them in a short span (like say all submitted at once for every lets play you have…) then you won’t even get an opportunity to file a counterclaim because they auto-killed your account.

    Read Section the wording of 107 of the copyright act. It is NOT a legal grey area, lets plays do fall under fair use. Contact the EFF if they don’t reinstate your account.

  • I just got Terminated yesterday and I have to admit it hurts. I had over 200,000 legit views with close to 50 vids over 5 years. My last couple of videos were kind of weak I’ll admit, but no kind of infringement. I’ve been looking for answers and wound up here, sorry Dude. I’m pretty sure it was an intentional “flag” because it just kind of went boom boom boom. I got this weird comment (which ain’t unusual) from some faceless new channel, it said something about my link, and this was not a video that as taking off on its own and come across (too few views on this one). Anyway then I got that call from Google you’re referring to and then the next time I went into my account got the message. All in a span of a few hours. I think I may have been targeted by some hater with nothing better to do or I got phished or I’ve even entertained the idea of YT having ‘moles’ that try to “test” people. Who knows??? Bottom line is it’s a third party site which is always uncertain.

  • JPalto

    Gots suspended today too. It hurts been with YT since 2007. Sure only had three videos up of just stupid projects but I use that to interact with ppl. Last known convo/thread I was having with was me and this other dude debating on the proper geological term “america”. I said that the term is too broad to reduce it to one country in the americas and he took on a whole different position. Anyway I am just trying to get back at the folks who I subscribbed too [Free Syrian Army mostly and then some vidgamers] and the playlist I compiled [this one I frequently watch had over 198 videos on it!] [and also the monkeyisland playlist!!]

    RIP JPalto (rest in pain)

  • The Snitch who did JPalto

    LOL JPalto. You had it coming, posting your vile, hateful shit on Youtube. Please don’t try to make it seem as though you were the innocent, hapless victim.

    I see you’ve made another Youtube account (SnitchesonHitlist), and are continuing your asinine ignorance regarding ‘America’ on the Heroes 3 Necropolis town theme page. Clearly, you have some issues that require a professional shrink to sort out.

    The truth is, you had been shitlisted by the Youtube admins for a long, long time.

    You better watch yourself boy. And grow up.

    Cya JPalto a.k.a SnitchesonHitlist

    P.S: In case you were wondering, no, I am not someone who had responded to your comments on the Necropolis video’s comment section. I played the video and listened to the music, saw your nonsense and reported you. That’s all.

    P.P.S: 2007-2013…that’s quite an amazing run wasn’t it? I wonder if your new account will last as long?

    • JPalto

      Ahhh SnitchesonHitlist has been up on Jewtube long before this shit started. Thanks for your input. Funny you took offense to the correct term America.

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  • Will

    Im so sorry about this. I never thought I would get this sad from seeing a youtube account banned. I wish you the best of luck to get your account back. I also got my account terminated for no reason whatsoever. I have just unloaded some weird vids using the iOS app action movie fx. I dunno why they terminated my account when all the vids were mine and I had always stated my friends if they were in the vids. Ive only got one copyright thing when I used the music from Skyfall (007). But that was only one infringement, surely youtube doesn’t terminate people just cause of one incident? I wanna say to youtube the following messages

    1. please start alerting people WHY THE HELL U GOT RID OF INNOCENT PEOPLES ACCOUNTS
    2. STOP LEAVING PEOPLE WHO HAVE SPENT DAYS AND DAYS ON YOUTUBE WITH NOTHING
    3. STOP LEAVING PEOPLE IGNORANT OF WHY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN BANNED

    Seriously, AND GET A PROPER SUPPORT STAFF WE CAN CONTACT.

    – A ANNOYED PERSON

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