YouTube Yanks Videos Of Beyonce’s Tumble, Citing Copyright Infringement

Videos are pulled faster than an R&B singer falling down a flight of stairs.

During her Tuesday night performance in Orlando, Florida, Beyoncé took a rather epic header down a flight of stairs — a tumble, of course, captured on camera by several fans in attendance.

To her credit, not only did B press on with the show, she later joked about the fall, telling the audience that it “hurt so bad” and imploring, “Don’t put [the footage] on YouTube.” Of course, those in the audience did the exact opposite, and by the following morning, several different clips of her spill were among the “Most Watched” and “Most Discussed” on the site.

Given Beyoncé’s plea, it should come as no surprise that on Thursday morning, those clips began disappearing from YouTube at an alarming rate, removed “due to terms of use violations.”

But just what terms of use were the clips violating? The ever-nebulous area of copyright infringement, of course.

According to YouTube, users posting their footage of Beyoncé’s fall were guilty of infringement because “even if [they] took the video [themselves], the performer controls the right to use his/her image in a video, the songwriter owns the rights to the song being performed and sometimes the venue prohibits filming without permission.”

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, all it takes to have offending videos removed is for the owner of the copyright — in this case, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, the parent company of Beyoncé’s label, Columbia Records — to notify YouTube’s copyright agent, and the clips are yanked. So is that the case here?

Well, a spokesperson for YouTube — who asked not to be identified — wouldn’t comment on the Beyoncé clips or who requested they be removed, because the site “[does] not comment on individual videos.” But the spokesperson said that the site relies mostly on users to alert them of questionable material.

“Our community understands the rules and effectively polices the site. Users can flag content, and once it is flagged, it is reviewed by our staff and removed from the system within minutes if it violates our community guidelines,” the spokesperson said. “We take copyright issues very seriously and prohibit users from uploading infringing material, and we cooperate with copyright holders to identify and promptly remove infringing content from the site. Our community guidelines make it clear that users must own or have permission from the copyright holders to post any videos.”

Of course, those copyright holders aren’t talking (MTV News’ requests for comment went unanswered by Song BMG as of press time), and after an initial wave of removals, clips of Beyoncé’s fall seem to be making a resurgence on YouTube … not to mention several other video-sharing sites like Dailymotion and eBaum’s World. And though Beyoncé herself might not be very happy, the undying popularity of the clips sort of proves that not even copyright law can keep a good girl — or at least footage of her plummeting down a flight of stairs — down for long.