After Rasta Rock Opera’s video “Luv ya Luv ya Luv ya” garnered more than 23,000 views in roughly two months on YouTube, the video was pulled by YouTube, who deemed that the relative success of the unknown band must be due to the use of ‘bots’ to artificially inflate viewings. This has prompted a lawsuit from the band who claim that the action of removing the video – leaving viewers landing on a page showing a frowning face and the words: “This video has been removed because its content violated YouTube’s Terms of Service. Sorry about that” – caused many potential fans and sponsors to jump to negative conclusions. Rasta Rock Opera says it suffered damages when its original video was removed. After YouTube removed the video April 18th, Rasta Rock Opera complained to YouTube and four days later, YouTube reposted the music video under a new link that did not have the view counts or comments from the original posting. But Rasta Rock Opera says the link to the message regarding prohibited content was not removed until August, hurting its reputation. The band also say this prompted Nike to cancel an opportunity to have Rasta Rock Opera perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” and a key investor in the music group to suspend funding.
Denying any bots were used to push up views, Stevie Marco, the group’s composer and guitarist said “When they took that video down, it caused all kinds of problems” and said the videos success was due to good old fashioned promotion – by telling friends and the community about it. He thinks the music video was removed because he refused to advertise on YouTube two days before the video was taken down. In its lawsuit in the US District Court in San Francisco, Rasta Rock Opera wants YouTube to reinstate its original video with its view counts and pay Rasta Rock Opera’s damages and legal fees. Interestingly U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, who first saw the case in Washington, D.C. (before transferring jurisdiction to a San Francisco judge) reportedly said she thought YouTube had a “major problem” with its contract and that YouTube should rewrite it because she doesn’t think a video view counter falls under the term “content”. USC Gould School of Law Professor Dan Nabel told reporters he believed YouTube has the stronger case. Rasta Rock Opera agreed to YouTube’s terms of agreement before uploading its video, and those terms allow YouTube to remove content it finds objectionable — including content manipulated by bots saying “The terms of the contract that YouTube has is pretty clear,”