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Still clueless, and not getting any better…

August 5, 2022, 10:37 AM

Do you remember that Journal entry that I did a few months ago about David Pinson, the guy who had no clue about why I was filing a copyright claim against his video that used my photo of the old Giant Food store on O Street NW?  As it turned out, he didn’t learn a thing.  Recently, while I was nailing another YouTube user for a copyright infringement issue, I ran into Pinson’s channel, Earl of Baltimore, in my list of past copyright infringement claims.  So while I was in there, considering our history, I gave it a quick look over to make sure that my image was still gone.  I went in expecting to find nothing, so I was surprised that I actually had a hit.  I found this:

The Giant Food spot, restored to YouTube

It was the same radio ad as before, but I didn’t care about that part, since the audio wasn’t mine.  But the imagery with the commercial was my photo of the O Street store, now modified with heavy blurring, a yellow tint, and a flicker effect.  The video was titled, “The Video That Got My Channel Whacked” with the description of, “Ignorance of policy is no excuse.  Infringement carries consequences.  Best believe it.”  He also added as a pinned comment, “Just to add context, this was a radio spot that originally aired 1/1/1980 for Giant food stores and is probably lost to time other than being posted here on this channel.  I aim to preserve little tidbits like this.  In doing so it earned my channel a copyright strike.  Details as to why can be found in my last community post.”  (For whatever it’s worth, I was unable to locate that community post, so he may have removed it.)

Pinson probably thought that he was being really slick with that one.  It confirmed why I was unwilling to play ball with Pinson during our last encounter.  Recall that back then, he was begging me to rescind my copyright notice so that he can remove the video himself.  Based on what he said here, it is clear that I was right when I said in the previous entry, “I’ve been given no reason to think that Pinson would actually follow through and remove the content voluntarily, vs. deciding that he’s ‘doing the Lord’s work’ or some other such thing by running his nostalgia channel and leaving it up indefinitely because he’s just decided that he’s right.”  After all, rather than following the rules that come with the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, looking for a different image, or – heaven forbid – taking his own photo of a Giant Food store, he decided to double down and blame me for his misfortunes.  Characterizing a well-deserved copyright strike as getting his channel “whacked” sums that up quite well.

Additionally, if he thinks that he’s right in this matter, I’m surprised that he went to the trouble of adding so many filters to the image.  That makes him look guilty as hell, since he’s trying to obscure that he stole the image, just like YouTube channels that post pirated content and then flip the image and employ weird cropping in an attempt to throw off anyone who might potentially nail them for copyright.  I saw through that in about half a second.  Compare my original image to the one that appears in his video:

My original photo of the O Street Giant Food store.
My original photo of the O Street Giant Food store.

My photo of the O Street Giant Food store as it appears in Pinson's second video, subject to heavy processing.
My photo of the O Street Giant Food store as it appears in Pinson’s second video, subject to heavy processing.

It doesn’t take much effort to tell that it’s the same image.  It may be blurred and tinted, but you can easily see that it’s the exact same angle, you can make out the sedan in the lower right corner, and you can see the pedestrian in the lower left corner.  If I’m trying to identify a specific photo, that’s what I’m looking for.  I look at how fixed objects line up with each other (e.g. where a tree lines up with details on a building), and I look at things that would move between individual shots, like pedestrians and cars.  There is no doubt that this is my shot, despite the many filters used.

So just like the first time, I nailed him for it, completing YouTube’s DMCA takedown form and then submitting it.  The video was removed by YouTube about an hour later.  Pinson got in that “I am very smart” state of mind where he thought that he could outsmart someone, and I issued a swift correction.  As far as I was concerned, problem solved.

Then fast forward about four days, and I received another email from YouTube, this one with the subject “New Copyright Counter Notification”.  It came with the following explanation, presented in its entirety:

This is wrong.  The image in question DOES NOT APPEAR in the video.  I keep getting rejected because it is “unclear” whether I have a valid reason to contest I want a MANUAL review.  I want a representative to contact me asap.  Manual review by a PERSON of the video will make it ABSOLUTELY clear why I am contesting this.  I swear, under penalty of perjury, that I have a good faith belief the material was removed due to a mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled.  I consent to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court for the district in which my address is located, or if my address is outside of the United States, the judicial district in which YouTube is located, and will accept service of process from the claimant.  David Pinson [address and phone number redacted]  I just received an email saying my request counter notification couldn’t be processed due to it not being accompanied by the above information.  The claimant is trying to claim an image that does not exist in the video.  Please manually review it.  I will continue to submit counter notifications until a representative gives me a valid reason this strike should stand.

I swear, under penalty of perjury, that I have a good faith belief the material was removed due to a mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled.

I consent to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court for the district in which my address is located, or if my address is outside of the United States, the judicial district in which YouTube is located, and will accept service of process from the claimant.

David Pinson

Based on his response in his counter-notification, Pinson still has absolutely no clue.  I find it strange that he states that the image in question does not appear in the video, because as I demonstrated above, it absolutely does.  Just because one subjects an image to heavy processing doesn’t mean that it’s not still a derivative work of the original, and therefore, my ownership of the photo remains unchanged.  Other than simply denying that the image appears, Pinson gives no actual evidence to refute my copyright claim.  Based on the statement where he says, “I keep getting rejected because it is ‘unclear’ whether I have a valid reason to contest I want a MANUAL review,” I suspect that he’s submitting things with no evidence and expecting that people will just roll over and comply with his demands based on his statements alone, and they are getting bounced.  I also suspect that even if YouTube did a manual review, I doubt that he would prevail, because it’s obvious that he’s still using my photo and not following the terms of the standard license for that image.

What irritates me about this whole thing at this juncture is that he filed a counter-notification.  When YouTube receives one of these, they give the original complainant (me) ten days to come back with a court order mandating its removal, or else they’re automatically reinstating the video.  In other words, they’re washing their hands of the whole matter and not getting in the middle of it.  Therefore, having received the counter-notification, if I want the video gone, I would have to sue him, and he’s just not worth that hassle.  So rest assured, upon seeing a counter-notification come through, and then seeing Pinson’s name attached to it, that I was seeing red.  Especially when the entire premise of his counter-notification, made under penalty of perjury, is based on an untruth.  In other words, as far as I can tell (and mind you, I am not a lawyer), he perjured himself.  Not a smart move on his part.

But in any event, Pinson managed to bumble his way into getting away with copyright infringement, at least in this one case.  However, I suspect that his “Earl of Baltimore” YouTube account is very much built on a house of cards.  In his entire channel of 474 videos, I found fewer than ten that were actually original content.  In other words, it’s just a matter of time before various other rights holders with more resources than me (like having their own lawyers) also nail him, and then he’s going to lose his account.

The overarching lesson here, though, is simple: don’t steal.  But if you do steal, and you subsequently get caught, be an adult about it, and own up to it.