Ted Williams Video Pulled From YouTube. What Would You Have Done?

What would you do?

What would you do if you had a "feel good" video on YouTube that was generating upwards of 12 million views?  Would you take it down?

That's what the Columbus Dispatch chose to do recently with the now famous video of Ted Williams.  You remember him, right?  The golden-voiced homeless-man-no-more.  (See above, courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch.)

Ted Williams was "discovered" by a Columbus Dispatch videographer who "auditioned" Mr. Williams as he panhandled at an intersection.  Ted Williams ultimately received numerous job opportunities as a result of the video having gone viral.

Ultimately, the video made its way to YouTube where it rang the bell at more than 11 million views in the span of a few days.

Today, this...

Ted Williams Video Pulled By the Dispatch

The video now graces the front page of the Dispatch's website.  (Where they've kindly provided the embed code so I can share it with you at the top of this post.)

Clearly, they're willing to share.  They just don't want their proprietary video being posted on someone else's YouTube channel.  I can understand that.  Heck, my knee-jerk reaction is typically to cry foul if someone else snagged my content and put it up on their site.

Really, I get it.

But, it also got me wondering: Was that twitch-of-the-knee the only way to go?  I mean, 12 million views in a few days is link-juice-potential that I'd be loathe to expunge.

What would you have suggested to the staff at the Columbus Dispatch if you were in the room as they were debating this issue?

Let's brainstorm, shall we? If I were the Dispatch, I might have...

  • ...Uploaded my proprietary / branded copy of the Ted Williams video to my own YouTube channel. (What?? I don't have a YouTube channel?? I'm a media company!  Why the hell not??)  Then...
  • ...Tagged the hell out of my copy of the video. I'd make sure to use the same or similar tags that other people, who are posting related video content and video responses about the Ted Williams piece, are using.  That way, my video shows up as a "related video" to theirs.
  • ...Placed my website URL prominently on the first line of the description field under my YouTube video. Hey, I'm not modest.  Let's give visitors a chance to get back to my website.  And speaking of that description field, I'd make sure there are appropriate keywords that would help get visitors over to my site.
  • ...Created a playlist containing the top-rated videos on YouTube where others are posting video responses and having dialog about the Ted Williams piece.  Then display that playlist on my YouTube channel AND on my website.  (Hmmm...now, if I can only get people coming over to my "authorized" version of the video.  Oh! I know!)  I might then also have...
  • ...Approached whomever it was that uploaded the, now highly-viewed, unauthorized copy of my proprietary video to his/her YouTube channel. Then instead of a cease and desist, I might have compelled him / her to comply with a request to place annotations in his video.  Those annotations should link back to the playlist on my YouTube channel.  And, perhaps I might have also...
  • ...Certified the Other's copy as an authorized reproduction.  (And no others.) Then drafted a one-liner for him/her to include in his description field stating that fact, courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch.

Those were just a few thoughts off the top of my head.  Any rebuttals?  What would you have suggested?


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About Mel

Mel is the online training architect and screencasting wizard at Kareo, one of Forbes' 2013 list of 100 Most Promising Companies in America. He's also the creator of Digital-Know-How, a training website devoted to developing learners' skills for screencasting and web video course development. Mel is also the chief blogger of ScreencastingWizard.com; Mel's personal blog. The comments and opinions you read here are Mel's and not associated with any other company.
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8 Responses to Ted Williams Video Pulled From YouTube. What Would You Have Done?

  1. Jeff Hester says:

    The Columbus Dispatch is a perfect example of why so many old media outlets are dying. Just today I got my last issue of US News and World Report — which announced that they will no longer be publishing either a print OR even an electronic version of their magazine. They’ll keep a website up — for now — but the writing is on the wall.

    The Dispatch should simply have leveraged YouTube and the viral nature of the video with ample notes, tags, etc. Certainly the video will garner them some traffic in the near term from people who haven’t seen the video yet. But when the buzz dies down, the only people who MIGHT visit their website are people from Columbus! If it weren’t for YouTube, the video would NEVER have gone viral in the first place!

    Epic fail!

    • Mel says:

      Jeff. I agree. By going with the knee-jerk reaction of pulling the video from YouTube in favor of an unrelenting desire to keep a tight fist on their proprietary content, the Dispatch effectively cut-off a huge share of future eyeballs — and any residual visibility to their own site they might otherwise have gotten.

      Ironic, too, since it seems they’re willing to share. (They included an embed code in their site’s video player, after all.) So, it all just seems to me as a (social) media strategy that wasn’t thought-through.

      Too bad, really. If you think about it, I for one, would not otherwise have heard about the Columbus dispatch had it not been for the YouTube video.

  2. Matt says:

    I think I would have requested that they add a URL back to my site, or something similar. This is kind of crazy. I’ve been watching these videos/following up with this man’s story. Thanks for sharing this Mel, I had no idea this happened.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Matt,

      I know, huh? It’s all too bad, really. ‘Seems like old style thinking got a hold of the Dispatch on this one.

      I like the idea of requesting a URL link-back. I’d also opt for annotations be included back to my own channel.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Ted Williams Video Pulled From YouTube. What Would You Have Done? | Social Video Marketing Roadmap -- Topsy.com

  4. Jana Farman says:

    That is really too bad. We all know who did the video! And I was feeling really “warm & fuzzy” for The Columbus Dispatch, and not so much any more. My teenage son also commented about what a great thing the Dispatch did for this man. Now they just seem selfish.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Jana. Yeah, from what I gathered, though it was shot by a videographer from the Dispatch, it may have been posted to YouTube by a non-Dispatch person. In that case, I respect the Dispatch’s desire to protect their intellectual property, but I agree, it’s a shame that another set of steps couldn’t have been worked out as an alternate. There were so many more options available.

  5. I have not rebuttals. In fact, I think your ideas of how to address this would be very useful to my readers. I especially liked:
    “Approached whomever it was that uploaded the, now highly-viewed, unauthorized copy of my proprietary video to his/her YouTube channel. Then instead of a cease and desist, I might have compelled him / her to comply with a request to place annotations in his video. Those annotations should link back to the playlist on my YouTube channel. And, perhaps I might have also…”

    because that’s really using their traffic to support your video. Smart thinking.

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