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Google Youtube AI The Media Your Rights Online

YouTube Algorithm Can Decide Your Channel URL Now Belongs To Someone Else 272

An anonymous reader writes: In 2005, blogger Matthew Lush registered "Lush" as his account on the then-nascent YouTube service, receiving as the URL for his channel. He went on to use this address on his marketing materials and merchandise. Now, YouTube has taken the URL and reassigned it to the Lush cosmetics brand. Google states that an algorithm determined the URL should belong to the cosmetics firm rather than its current owner, and insists that it is not possible to reverse the unrequested change. Although Lush cosmetics has the option of changing away from their newly-received URL and thereby freeing it up for Mr. Lush's use, they state that they have not decided whether they will. Google has offered to pay for some of Mr. Lush's marketing expenses as compensation.
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YouTube Algorithm Can Decide Your Channel URL Now Belongs To Someone Else

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  • Makes sense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "Lush" is a well known brand. If people go to they would expect to see Lush cosmetics, not some random guy. Similar for Not sure what the issue is here. He doesn't own the site.

    • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @08:58AM (#49969123) Homepage Journal

      No, they wouldn't expect that. They'd never go to those links under normal circumstances, unless they saw it written down.

      Would you go to and expect a page about hamburgers to come up?

      The only people that go to are people that have seen it written down or who have bookmarked it, which means, essentially, only people visiting this blogger.

      URLs should not change meaning except in extreme circumstances. Google's inability to understand that is baffling given their position as the web's defacto gatekeeper.

      • URLs should not change meaning except in extreme circumstances. Google's inability to understand that is baffling given their position as the web's defacto gatekeeper.

        Google's ability to understand this is because of their position as the web's defacto gatekeeper. If people can't find things from their URL, they're forced to Google it to find things.

      • Google wants to change people's expectations of where will take them. Their opinion, which your earlier statements actually support, is that currently the URLs don't have any meaning. They want to give them some.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If you're going to auto-transfer ownership of names based on rights ownership, then they should include a suffix indicating the trademark group they belong to.
        e.g. LushCosmetics, McDonaldsHamburgers (or McDonaldsFastFood), AppleRecords (aka the Beatles' record label) which is not to be confused with AppleComputers, etc.

        p.s. I've never heard of Lush cosmetics until this article. Maybelline, Revlon, Avon: Yes, I've heard of those. Lush? No, never heard of them. But I'm a guy, so maybe that explains it.

      • by DrVxD ( 184537 )

        Would you go to and expect a page about hamburgers to come up?

        No. I'd expect a link to an article on

    • No it doesn't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @09:01AM (#49969149) Homepage

      He registered the channel 10 years ago. Too bad if in the meantime some cosmetics firm with the same name has become successful. Perhaps every word in the english dictionary should be off limits just in case some firm comes along and wants to claim it as their own trademark eh?

    • by orasio ( 188021 )

      I understand if there were some trademark issue, that they _removed_, and replaced it with 301 to . Replacing the page with something else completely will only harm those who try to access the old link. If the company wants anything, they can get or whatever, but they shouldn't misrepresent their content. Users who have the old link expect the old content, that's what URIs are for.

      Breaking links is a bad thing (TM), and google has the knowledge to know tha

    • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rinisari ( 521266 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @09:24AM (#49969335) Homepage Journal

      IIRC, there are exceptions in trademark law carved out for peoples' names. That is, someone whose last name is Google could not be prevented from using their name as the name of their company. There are likely some nuances to this, such as that the company couldn't bear the exact same legal name "Google, Inc." or choose the name with intent to cause confusion. Two names that existed in separate industries should be considered safe. This case of naming rights on a privately owned service further complicates the spirit of the law, insomuch as a private entity has control of most of the name and can rightfully choose who uses its service.

      ICANN at least honors this sentiment for domains. See the case of Uzi Nissan [] is Nissan Motors v. Nissan Computer [], who registered [] before Nissan Motors []. Similarly in nature, Microsoft v. MikeRoweSoft [] existed, but was settled out of court.

      Personally, I'd like to see Google and other services that offer naming of pages to follow similar guidelines: no one can be prevented from claiming their name.

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        But this isn't even a trademark dispute, its a company policy dispute.

        Though, its also an issue of What happens when Lush Internetworking Products and Lush Sex toys and Lush tabletop games, all run by different people, all become popular....and half the customers of each have never heard of the others?

        If Lush skateboards become more popular than another Lush, will it change to them? Fair is fair right?

    • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Informative)

      by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @09:26AM (#49969351)

      "Lush" is a well known brand. If people go to they would expect to see Lush cosmetics, not some random guy. Similar for Not sure what the issue is here. He doesn't own the site.

      People entering expect to see marketing information from the same guy who registered the name many years ago, not some random company. Not sure what your thought process is here. Lush cosmetics doesn't own the site.

    • You're thinking of the Billy Rose's Aquacade case in New York, in which a small business owner named Billy Rose was not allowed to apply his own name to his business, because of confusion with the established brand of Billy Rose's Aquacade. "B-B-But..." sputtered his lawyer, "Billy Rose is my client's real name. The guy who runs the Aquacade is named Rosenstein!" The ruling was still that the established nature of the Aquacade brand superseded the defendant's use of his own name.

      But in this case, Mr. Lush r

      • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Informative)

        by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @10:20AM (#49969773) Homepage

        But in this case, Mr. Lush registered first, and because it's his own name he can't be accused of domain squatting.

        Except it's not a domain registration, so there is no chance of domain squatting. It's path/URL within the domain. It's property for them to use as they see fit.

    • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moronoxyd ( 1000371 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @09:46AM (#49969505)

      You think there is only one company by the name of "Lush" in the whole wide world? Or even in America?
      Who decides which company gets this nice short URL and which doesn't?

      This is usually solved on the first come first served basis, and Google should to the same.
      And since this guy was the first and has the right to us his name (he didn't go for "lushcosmetics" nor "whitehousegov") he should keep it.

      This decision by Google is stupid and sets a bad precedent.
      Not counting the fact that their argument that this can not be reversed is certainly an outright lie.

      • This is usually solved on the first come first served basis, and Google should to the same.

        First come first served leads to squatting, for example domain squatting. Google has little to gain by hosting garbage channels, in fact they detract from Youtube's overall value by drowning out signal under noise, and frankly I doubt Google's staff likes parasites any more than anyone else does.

        On the other hand, any other decision criteria means deciding who has "rights" to a certain name. If this decision process

    • If you were looking is meaningless. If you want to find something you use the search page. Randomly switching urls around without anyone asking for it and for no apparent reason isn't even evil... its just stupid.

    • That's BS. Only people who use cosmetics and who reside in whatever part of the world Lush sells to would expect that. Furthermore, even they shouldn't be too surprised since Lush is an actual English word AND a common surname. Anybody could have claimed it for valid reasons AND Lush the cosmetics company failed to do so.

      Your argument is like going to something named Windows, finding a builder who installs windows in houses and being incredulous that it wasn't Microsoft Windows.

      I wish that companies like

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      Really? Because I would expect to see the musicvideo's for the band "Lush", which was formed in 1987, broken up in 1988, reformed in 1989 and was still active in 1994, when some cosmetics company used the same name for their brand.

    • by znrt ( 2424692 )

      "Lush" is a well known brand. If people go to they would expect to see Lush cosmetics, not some random guy.

      sorry but this is utter nonsense. what if i'd expect that blogger, or the music band, and not some random cosmetics shop?

      this problem is usually addressed with a "first come first serve" policy, as in domain names or trade marks. any conflicts are dealt through an arbitrer with the implicated parts knowing. youtube just grabbing peoples' channel names as they see fit is just ... wow.

      Not sure what the issue is here. He doesn't own the site.

      the real issue here is that youtube is a service and mr.lush is not the customer, he's the product. that's why he has to suck

    • "Lush" is a well known brand. If people go to they would expect to see Lush cosmetics, not some random guy. Similar for

      Uh, who are these "people"? I've heard of McDonald's, but I've never heard of Lush cosmetics. If I went to, I don't know what I'd expect to see. Certainly not a cosmetics company. Porn maybe?

    • But it was first-come, first-served. He got there first, and it's just a karma bonus that it's his actual name (as opposed to videos of lush . . . whatevers). True that it's a free service and he doesn't own it, but .. Consider if you had already been seated at a table at a restaurant, and were given the bum's rush because a known big spender just walked in. You were there first. It's just shoddy practice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @08:50AM (#49969055)

    YouTube Algorithm Can Decide Your Channel URL Now Belongs To Someone Else

    Never belonged to you in the first place.

    • That's the attitude that allows these companies to get away with their discourteous behaviour.

      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @10:52AM (#49970043)

        But it's naive in the extreme to believe that some kind of informal system of first come, first served meets squatter's rights would prevail when the players in question are large commercial entities.

        The Internet as we knew it 15 years ago (or more..) is dead, as is the benevolent giant of Google. It's not run by geeks for geeks under some informal geek code of honor anymore. It's a commercial marketplace run by corporations for a profit.

        And anyone with a clue and any exposure to Google would have to understand that their services and systems change as they see fit. If you rely on Google for anything, you'd better be, as the MBAs say, nimble and able to pivot when they change their minds. Their services come and go. Beta, labs, products, whatever, if it's not making ad revenue it's on life support and will disappear whenever they feel like it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hi, we are google, one of the worlds most massive computer companies, and no we cant change a database value but we will give you a couple thousand to leave it all alone.

  • URLs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @08:52AM (#49969069) Homepage Journal

    It's a shame Google has nobody working for them who knows what a URL does and what it's meant to do.

    Maybe they can employ someone to tell them, and explain why changing URLs at random (or "algorithmically" if you'd prefer) to go to entirely different things is a problem.

    Perhaps that same person can then tell them what a search engine is...

    • Re:URLs (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @09:15AM (#49969251) Homepage

      In a recent Ask Slashdot [], the person asking the question was ridiculed by many for relying on his free ISP email account instead of his own domain hosted with a 3rd party provider to allow for portability. I think a similar argument applies here.

      Why doesn't Mr. Lush have his own domain/website instead of relying on Google/YouTube to be his direct URL? Just like your ISP provided email account, it may be your account to use, but you don't own it. It's property of the ISP and is subject to their whim in use.

      Yeah it sucks that something that was "his" was taken away what appears to be arbitrarily due to some algorithm. But if he is reliant on that URL perhaps he should use something that he has better control and full ownership of.

      • Re:URLs (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @09:39AM (#49969441) Homepage

        But there is no justifiable reason why Google should do crap like this.

        Lush isn't a sufficiently unique or trademarked term that there could only be one entity using the word Lush. It's not like it was "Lush Cosmetics" and he was stepping on their trademark.

        And since trademarks are only valid in your area of business, there is NO legal justification for saying it's not his anymore.

        He's been using it for a decade by the looks of it, so there is no way you can claim he's a late comer or cybersquatting.

        Basically this is a bullshit policy, badly implemented by Google/YouTube, which basically says "we're going to arbitrarily decide that the branding you have worked on for years is no longer your own because we say so".

        So, take your pick, evil, incompetent, or just plain old assholes -- possibly all three. But Google is the ones doing stupid things here.

        This is kind of like Slashdot saying "we've decided the account name cdrudge should belong to someone else now" -- because it makes no sense whatsoever to take it away from someone who has been using it for so long.

        This is just random garbage by random algorithms which isn't based on a damned thing than the arbitrary code Google has decided is the arbiter of these things.

        • It has nothing to do with trademarks, or anything like that. Google no doubt noticed that the majority of his visitors would then search further for lush cosmetics. They view the URL as akin to a search term that needs to be optimized for the masses.

          I'm not going to say it's right or should be done. But it is most certainly not arbitrary. And it is almost certainly legal, because the laws haven't kept up with things like accounts as property rights, etc.

      • by rhazz ( 2853871 )

        If I accessed a non-youtube URL and it redirected me to youtube, I would never use the original URL again because it is most likely some click-counting intermediary. YouTube is a well known and trusted video streaming site, while is questionable unless you've already visited it.

        YouTube was offering people branding by giving them simple URLs with their account name at the end, now they are taking away their offering from one individual and giving it to a company because money.

  • by Raistlin77 ( 754120 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @08:52AM (#49969075)
    Really, Google can't undo a change made by a fucking algorithm? Bullshit!
    • Really, Google can't undo a change made by a fucking algorithm? Bullshit!

      My guess is that there's a lot more to this story than what we're seeing.

      (Disclosure: I work for Google, but know nothing about it beyond what's in the article.)

      • Well, how about you tell your colleagues that it is stupid to piss of one of your first customers (that guy has been using YouTube for 10 years!) with no good reason.
        He was there first, he has every right to use the name, and there are certainly more than one company by the name of 'Lush'.
        Creating the precedent opens a can of worms.

        And: Even if we don't know everything. Saying that they can not undo a change they did is definitely bullshit. They might not want to, but if they could change it in one directio

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @09:00AM (#49969137) Journal
    Before this morning, I didn't know either Lush existed (Matthew or the cosmetic company).

    Seemingly, Google the omnipotent search engine has a bit of egg on its face,

    but both Lush's will benefit largely from this story's exposure.

    • but both Lush's will benefit largely from this story's exposure.

      I'm not sure that's true. Lush is positioned as an ethical brand. What's ethical about not giving back the guy's URL, which is something they have the option to do according to the story? Google says they can't do it, but the BBC story suggests that Lush Cosmetics can. If they can and they don't, they're typical immoral address-stealing shitbags, like PETA — it doesn't matter that they allegedly didn't request the change if they can hand it right back. So, can they? And if they can, will they? If not,

  • by jfbilodeau ( 931293 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @09:00AM (#49969143) Homepage
    Since when did we decide that it's OK for computers to make those type of decisions--and not allow human beings to reverse it?
  • by cob666 ( 656740 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @09:03AM (#49969171) Homepage
    Here we go again
    Nissan v Nissan []
    • Here we go again Nissan v Nissan []

      Ah, no, not quite. In fact, not even close.

      In this case, neither party attempting to dispute this owns the domain.

    • That one is the ultimate horror story what happens when you get stupid lawyers involved. Short summary: Guy named Uzi Nissan registers and uses Nissan car company wants the URL. Lawyers get involved. Judge decides that nobody can use it.

      Between reasonable people without lawyers the outcome would have been that Uzi Nissan would have received a generous amount of cash, perhaps a new car made by guess what company, and Nissan car company had used the URL. Instead, everyone lost, except possi
  • Hopefully this kind of shit will make people think twice about relying solely on free services to advertise or run a business.

    Bottom line is you control a hell of a lot less of that hosted environment than you think.

    Don't be a cheap ass. Buy your own domain. Then you might at least have a fighting chance (ala

  • Cool URLs never change. Yet another part of the Internet, that Google just don't get. Remember when they bought DejaNews, and proceeded to break every single URL on the web that lead to news-postings? Fuck noobs that break the web.
  • by idbeholda ( 2405958 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @09:34AM (#49969419) Journal
    Seriously, they could have at least picked a different account name other than "LUSH".
  • Lush was a failing company that practically bribed its way back into some sort of social relevance.

    You can almost bet top dollar that money exchanged hands between them and Google.

  • Good old google (Score:4, Informative)

    by Revek ( 133289 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2015 @09:59AM (#49969601) Homepage

    Slightly more evil all the time.

  • Everything in that site is owned by google. User lush never owned anything, never paid for anything. Google just allowed the user to use the URL for a while and then they took it away.

    Let it be a lesson to anyone who builds something on any free site. It will be yours only as long as it remains small.

  • So wait. Google took the url from him and gave it to Lush, but it's up to Lush to give it back. Isn't that a big ole FUCK YOU from Google.
  • If you are promoting a link, it's always best to use your own domain. Even if it just redirects to another URL. Suppose you post videos under the name "VideoGuy." You could register the domain name "" and promote "" which redirects to "". Then, if Google decides to give your URL to someone else and you need to change to "", you can change your redirect but keep promoting your "" URL. This would also work if you

  • How many email addresses are out there with first-initial-last-name, and how many mistaken (or fraudulent) emails are they getting because people guessed? People lazily searched for "lush" and picked the first option, not even noticing the difference between "lush" and "lush band" and "lush cosmetics"; Google noticed the second-search activity and switched order. If Google feels OK doing that, how long before they give away jdoe's email address to some other john doe?

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"