WSJ on YouTube Censorship

We got a write up in the Wall Street Journal on the YouTube censorship experience – thankfully the Lev Ponomarev video has now been reinstated. See previous coverage here. More commentary is forthcoming.

YouTube Restores Video Appearing to Show Prisoner Abuse in Russia By KEVIN J. DELANEY February 28, 2008 Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing site Tuesday reinstated a video clip appearing to document abuse of prisoners at a Russian prison camp. Lawyer Robert Amsterdam posted the video to YouTube in December with the explanation that the 2006 footage comes from a prison camp in Yekaterinburg and was discovered by Lev Ponomarev, co-founder of the Moscow-based Foundation for Defense of Rights of Prisoners.

The six-minute clip includes scenes of a troop of men in camouflage uniforms and helmets marching into a building and then beating unarmed individuals with clubs. A Feb. 12 Wall Street Journal editorial-page article discussing Mr. Ponomarev and cruelty to prisoners in Russia, which appeared before the clip’s removal, directed readers to the YouTube video.YouTube removed the video last week after a user flagged it on the site as not being appropriate for all viewers. “In this case, our general policy against graphic violence led to the initial removal of a video documenting alleged human rights abuses because the context was not apparent,” said a YouTube spokesman. “Having reviewed the case, we have restored the video.”YouTube reviews videos when they are flagged by users to determine whether they violate its terms of use, which prohibit graphic violence. YouTube users can appeal the removal of videos, which can trigger a secondary review. After the video was reinstated on YouTube this week, people wishing to access it had to click to consent to viewing a clip which “may contain content that is inappropriate for some users” in order to see it.A representative for Mr. Amsterdam said Mr. Amsterdam emailed YouTube to appeal the clip’s removal but received no response. The representative said Mr. Amsterdam wasn’t available for comment.”We are committed to preserving YouTube as an important platform for expression of all kinds, while also ensuring that the site remains a safe environment for our users,” the YouTube spokesman said.