Allyson Townsend, who built herself a fervent fanbase by translating modern pop songs by Miley Cyrus, Kesha, and others into American Sign Language, has been shut down by YouTube in the name of copyright infringement. Her former account, allyballybabe, has been suspended, and she is no longer allowed any other accounts with YouTube.
In response to Townsend's email to YouTube about their actions, she received the following message:
Thanks for your email. We received multiple notifications from various content owners regarding unauthorized content that has been uploaded by your account(s). When we're notified that a particular video uploaded to our site infringes another's copyright, we remove the material as the law requires.
Federal law requires that we terminate accounts when they are found to repeatedly infringe copyright. Because you have had other videos rejected in the past, we are unable to reinstate your account. Users with suspended or terminated accounts are prohibited from creating new accounts or accessing YouTube's community.
You will need to resolve at least one of these penalties before your account can be reinstated. You may be able to resolve at least one of the following video removals by filing a counter-notification.
Townsend has, thus far, no been successful in reinstating her account.
Fans of Townsend were furious at the announcement, flooding her Facebook fan community with hundreds of comments. Chris Wheeldon stated that Townsend's work had been a great gift to her deaf grandson. Even the artists that Townsend has performed to have spoken out. A representative from Owl City said:
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Unfortunately, we have zero control over what content is pulled down on YouTube and other services. Our record label, well within their rights, has the ability to pull down unauthorized use of our songs (which they own the copyright of) - and this is likely one of those instances. Seems like Ally ASL is doing amazing things and we support her efforts wholeheartedly.
Townsend is a professional educator for the deaf who is applying for her Master's degree. Her fame for her internet videos have led to public performances signing songs in her effort to spread music to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Though she maintains control over her fan Facebook, and has recently started a Vimeo account complete with new videos, the loss of so many years of work was a blow.
"14,000-plus subscribers, 90 videos... countless hundreds of thousands of views and comments.. all gone. Forever," said Townsend. "And for what? So that they don't have their songs being signed? Give me a break. It's okay for kids to dance to the songs, but not signing them?"
Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.