VICE Media Had YouTube Shut Down My Gaming Channel Without Even Contacting Me

I awoke this morning to a barrage of messages from fans of mine wondering where my content had gone. I checked my channel and sure enough, it had been removed from YouTube.

I run an amateur gaming channel, with about 15,000 subscribers at the time of it being terminated. Fairly small, but a notable achievement, and the videos I’ve made make decent money. I love making content and interacting with the community I’ve built.

Here’s the problem. My handle is Vice. I’ve gone by Vice on the internet for forever, it’s been my gamertag for years, and when I made my YouTube channel I didn’t think to change it. I was aware there was already a channel under the name, but it’s a fairly common word, and I didn’t think I’d find as much success as I did. Before I knew it, it was too late to change as it was already a big part of my branding in the Rust community.

The worst I thought I’d have to deal with was never showing up in search results, always being flooded out by a large media company. But as I’ve learned, apparently I’m a threat to them.

Now, this isn’t one of those cases where it’s a blatant misuse of trademark law, like in 2016 where the same VICE Media tried to force a band named ViceVersa to change their name. ViceVersa were in the clear there. Me, less so. My YouTube name is the same as theirs, save for it not being capitalized:

Google Cache from a week ago. Currently, my channel is inaccessible.

As much as I personally believe this is a misuse of the trademark system, as my channel and brand is entirely different from theirs save for sharing four letters, the law is the law, and I’m (probably) in violation.

But what normally happens with trademark infringement is that you are sent a cease and desist, telling you to remove their branding or they will take you to court. Had I been served one of these, I would have changed my name, albeit begrudgingly so. I would also have the option to fight them in court if I so desired.

But on YouTube, the systems they’ve set in place don’t always align with the law. YouTube, acting on a trademark infringement claim from VICE, removed my channel entirely. Without contacting me, or giving me any option to change my name before deletion.

The exact clause my channel was terminated under was “Channels dedicated to a policy violation”, with that violation being impersonation:

Apparently I’m “dedicated to impersonation”.

Had I been operating my own website under my Vice name, and hosting the videos myself, VICE Media would have had to go through the same legal process of filing a cease and desist as they did with ViceVersa, to which I would have been able to respond to and sort out the problem.

But YouTube allows them much more freedom. Under pushback from VICE, YouTube can delete my channel without giving me the option to defend myself, or even oblige with their request to rebrand. There’s an option to appeal, but if the YouTube trademark system is anything like YouTube’s copyright system, VICE Media will be the deciding party on the appeal, not YouTube.

I received no email or any other contact from VICE or YouTube prior to deletion, despite my contact information being readily available. I haven’t heard back from YouTube yet on the appeal I submitted.

I’ve had my channel for nearly a year now with this name, but this decision comes right after my channel saw a huge boost in traffic this month. I’m assuming one of my recent videos found its way to a search page for “Vice”, which alerted someone in the company.

I’m not sure if Adsense will even pay me for the month of February.

And while this was clearly the worst possible time I could have had my channel deleted, what’s worse is my content is gone completely. I edit my videos on a MacBook with 250GB of storage, each video uses about 40GB just to edit, so I don’t keep backups of my content. I’ve lost everything, and can’t even reupload.

So I’d like my channel back YouTube. I don’t know how all this trademark stuff works. I’m not a lawyer, and these laws are pretty complicated anyway. If I’m in violation, I’ll change my name. I just want my community back. And perhaps an answer as to why you deleted it in the first place without even talking to me first. And to any other YouTuber out there with a name that might infringe someone’s trademark, make sure you back up your videos.