In the comments on this post, Jeff Reifman, who does deserve credit for bringing this whole fascinating matter to the public’s attention, mentions that he came up with an ingenious way to track missing Comedy Central video.
Tonight, using the Google Search API, I wrote a short PHP script to tabulate content from YouTube that is present or missing based on top search hits from Googleâ€™s search engine.
While not entirely scientific or entirely representative, my top line results show that 349 of 764 or 46 percent of the top Daily Show clips in Google search results are missing and broken, 190 of 537 or 35 percent of the Colbert Report results and 138 of 594 or 23 percent of South Park results. So, while you can still find 2,723 videos at YouTube.com of the Daily Show, 881 videos of the Colbert Report and 6,660 of South Park, the percentage of broken links from Googleâ€™s top results show that there either has been an ongoing take down or a large recent takedown effort at YouTube.
Mathew Ingram has more on speculation that Viacom has been playing hardball to get a favorable deal from YT.
We released an interactive reporting Engine for YouTube’s Comedy Central Takedowns onto YouTube last night.
This helped us do more analysis: While Viacom has released public statements saying that they were targeting YouTube with requests to take down whole episodes, I found the takedowns to be fairly indiscriminate. For example, 63% of Daily Show clips (and 58% of all shows) taken down were less than 5 minutes in length. Shorter clips that might be likely to qualify for fair use rights have been widely taken down.
We also wanted to get a sense of the number of page views just our subset of video clips had generated for YouTube over time – this also represents potential lost revenue for Viacom. Just the subset of broken clips with view count information left in the Google cache represents 14,867,004 viewings. While the live videos at YouTube represent 23,322,598 viewings. Or, 38,189,602 combined.
Good follow up.
I think there was no rhyme or reason to Viacom’s takedown request. They just picked a bunch of random videos. This lends credence to the idea that this was just a negotiating ploy.