Night owls in the U.S. searching for NASA’s Mars landing video on YouTube immediately after the event, including your humble correspondent, were met with mysterious opposition.
Nope, not Martians, but Scripps Local News Service — which blocked the historic NASA video on spurious grounds for more than an hour.
Scripps, a privately-held company, did not contribute any content to the NASA video. Nor, so far as we can tell, does it have a local news bureau on Mars.
But the company does have a history of blocking NASA content via YouTube’s Content ID system, which allows copyright holders to automatically block content under the infamous 1999 law, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).
A NASA video of the Space Shuttle back in April was also blocked from viewers by a Scripps request.
It’s entirely possible that Scripps used video from the NASA live UStream feed (which, ironically, is copyright-free), uploaded it to YouTube before NASA did — and that YouTube’s algorithm blocked the NASA video on suspicion of copying something that was already there.
Still, the incident is a perfect case study in why YouTube needs to tweak its Content ID system — at the very least, by putting respected entities such as NASA on a white list, making it much harder to block their content with a simple request.
UPDATE: Here’s the official apology statement from Scripps: “We apologize for the temporary inconvenience experienced when trying to upload and view a NASA clip early Monday morning. We made a mistake. We reacted as quickly as possible to make the video viewable again, and we’ve adjusted our workflow processes to remedy the situation in the future.”
We’ve asked for more details on how it happened in the first place, and we’ve also got a request for comment out to YouTube. We’ll update you when we get their side of the story.
But what do you make of the kerfuffle? Is it a sign that the DMCA needs to be repealed or amended? Let us know in the comments.