YouTube has changed a lot over the past few years. Nowadays, the site is a legitimate way for a lot of people to build an audience and start a career in multimedia — but even just a few years ago, it was basically a dumping ground for pirated movies and TV shows.
Family Guy was a prime example: not only were clips from the show everywhere on YouTube, but there were entire channels dedicated to putting up new episodes as quickly as possible. Of course, it wasn't long before Fox took notice, and YouTube soon began to change its copyright protection policies. It took some time, but the site eventually ended up with the automatic detection system that's still in use today.
Sadly, many would argue that YouTube has gone too far in the opposite direction: while it's understandable that networks like Fox would want to protect their properties, YouTube's current system works under the philosophy of "guilty until proven innocent."
Case in point: last Sunday, an episode of Family Guy used a seven-year-old clip of the classic NES basketball game Double Dribble from YouTube. Shortly after said episode had aired, the original Double Dribble video had been taken down because of Family Guy and YouTube's copyright protection software.
So, what exactly happened?
From the looks of things, Fox pulled the footage from YouTuber sw1tched's channel, which had been uploaded all the way back in 2009. The only real edit that Fox made to the footage was switching the "CPU" label with "2UP" — otherwise, the two clips are identical.
Then, after Family Guy aired, YouTube's copyright protection policy kicked in and started searching for any videos containing footage from the episode. However, because the original video had been used in a nearly unaltered fashion, YouTube decided that someone had tried to upload a clip of the show and promptly shut it down — despite the fact that the video in question had been uploaded roughly seven years ahead of the Family Guy episode.
Of course, it wasn't long before the Internet caught wind. Torrent Freak documented the entire ordeal, and soon enough, gamers started bombarding Fox's social media channels in an effort to have the video restored. At one point, it was enough for Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane to respond (even if he had nothing to do with it).
Hey Twitter: FYI I don't run Fox, and I'm away from FG working on a new show. However I will look into the Double Dribble issue.
— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) May 20, 2016
Thankfully, this story has a happy ending: as it stands, sw1tched's footage has been restored.
While the whole fiasco may not seem all that important, this is yet another example of YouTube's copyright protection system hurting its users. This isn't even the first time Family Guy has been behind something like this — something eerily similar happened when the show decided to pull footage of the NES game Tecmo Bowl from a fan's channel just last week.
Again, it makes sense that a network as big as Fox would want to protect one of its biggest franchises — but one would think that, after so many similar cases of videos being unfairly taken down, YouTube would at least try to come up with a better system.