YouTube's copyright system is a bit of a mess right now. The popular video streaming site makes efforts to protect the property of those who use it, but the whole thing is set up very much in favour of big companies at present, with individual users often hit with takedowns which - if they choose to fight - could lead to loss of revenue and posting rights.
If you need an example of just how messed up YouTube is, then look no further than a recent episode of Fox's Family Guy TV show. Entitled "Run, Chris, Run", the episode in question features the NES titles Double Dribble and Tecmo Bowl.
In the Double Dribble clip - which is shown below (and, seeing as it's Family Guy, you're advised to watch at your own discretion), the character Peter exploits a glitch which allows his team to shoot for three points on every attempt.
As serious Nintendo experts will know, the glitch isn't fabricated and actually exists in the game - in fact, the actual footage shown in Family Guy was taken from a YouTube video posted by user 'sw1tched' back in February 2009. Cheeky? Yes, but what followed was almost unbelievable. After the show aired, Fox filed a copyright claim on the original clip and - as is the case when big companies throw their weight around on YouTube - it was taken down from YouTube immediately. Fox also filed a claim against some Tecmo Bowl footage which it had also "borrowed" from the site.
While it might seem like Fox was really pushing its luck, what actually happened was that Fox's automatic search robots will have found the original clip and spotted that it contained the stolen footage featured in the Family Guy episode, and will therefore have assumed it featured material which legally belong to the network - hence the automatic takedown.
What makes this system so infuriating is that righting these wrongs is almost impossible for small-scale YouTube publishers, so even when obvious mistakes are made - like this one - it's very difficult to sort things out, especially when you're going up against a giant like Fox.
Thankfully, in this case, common sense has won. Fox has removed its claims from both videos, stating:
The video in question was removed as a result of Fox's routine efforts to protect its television show Family Guy from piracy. As soon as we became aware of the circumstances, the content was restored.
You could not make it up.
Thanks to Gonçalo Lopes for the tip!