Earlier this year we reported on YouTube’s removal and subsequent restoration of videos by dance-artist Amy Greenfield. At that point we voiced serious concerns about the lack of an appeals process for individuals who believe that their work has been unfairly removed from the site as well as the absence of “art” in the list of exceptions to the YouTube community guidelines banning nudity. Proving our point that, unless there is an exception to the nudity guidelines, well-regarded works would continue be removed by YouTube reviewers, in July a 37-year-old work by L.A. artist Susan Mogul was caught in the net of restrictions.
We are pleased to report that, in response to NCAC’s and EFF’s jointly voiced concerns, YouTube now has instituted an appeals process and has changed their community guidelines to include “artistic” purpose as justifying an exception to their no nudity requirement. This is unlikely to be the last time that we see art censored on YouTube, after all “artistic” is a somewhat subjective category, but it makes correcting errors much easier and assures us that YouTube values artistic expression.
To provide YouTube reviewers with enough information so that they can make an informed decision when reviewing flagged work, YouTube advises its users to add as much context as possible when posting videos:
Titling and tagging your video correctly is the best way to add context to your videos. When our team is reviewing flagged content, titles or tags with words as simple as “human rights” or “police abuse” will help us understand the context of the footage you’re uploading. Try to add some specific information into the description: who is in the video, what is happening, where and when did it happen, and why. You can also add this detail directly onto the video itself, using our annotations tool.
We applaud the company’s responsiveness to the interests of the wide and diverse community of people who use YouTube to access art work. We are also impressed that the company has so promptly acted to protect free speech.