Nikola takes ‘silencing your critics’ a bit too literally with copyright strikes on YouTube

Nikola showcases the Nikola Two. (Photo: Dacia Ferris/Teslarati)

Hydrogen trucking startup Nikola has taken an assertive stance against its critics, with the company forcing the removal of several videos on YouTube over alleged copyright infringement issues. The videos in question allegedly included proprietary content, including sections of the startup’s “Nikola One in Motion” advertisement, which featured a prototype truck from the company being rolled down a hill. 

As noted in a Financial Times report, a number of financial commentator channels on YouTube have reported that they received takedown notices from the hydrogen truck maker, resulting in several videos being removed from the video-sharing platform. In a statement to the publication, Sam Alexander, a Nikola critic and YouTube host, stated that he received notifications on Wednesday that at least four of his videos were reported for copyright infringement. All four of the videos featured sections of the “Nikola One in Motion” ad. 

The same was true for fellow content creator Tom Nash, whose finance-themed channel has 41,000 subscribers. According to Nash, he was required to take down three critical Nikola videos including one that featured sections of the rolling Nikola One prototype. Nikola reportedly took issue with Nash’s use of videos that featured its prototype jet ski and hydrogen station as well. “It’s what you would call a death sentence for a creator. This is my livelihood. I have three kids. I quit my job to do this,” Nash told the FT. 

Amidst concerns that the company seems to be looking to silence its critics, a spokesperson from Nikola explained that YouTube identifies copyright violations and shares this data with the company. The spokesperson added that based on the information shared by YouTube, Nikola was able to submit takedown notices against videos that included content that was used without permission. 

“YouTube regularly identifies copyright violations of Nikola content and shares the lists of videos with us. Based on YouTube’s information, our initial action was to submit takedown requests to remove the content that was used without our permission. Going forward, we will evaluate these flagged videos on a case-by-case basis,” the spokesman said. 

This explanation, however, was disputed to a degree by a spokesman from YouTube. Alex Joseph, a YouTube spokesman, notified the Financial Times that the platform’s copyright match tool does not automatically remove any videos. Joseph added that content creators who believe that their videos were wrongfully flagged could dispute the takedown notices. 

“Nikola has access to our copyright match tool, which does not automatically remove any videos. Users must fill out a copyright removal request form, and when doing so we remind them to consider exceptions to copyright law. Anyone who believes their reuse of a video or segment is protected by fair use can file a counter-notice,” the YouTube spokesperson remarked. 

Nikola has recently been met with a lot of turbulence. Following a damning report from short-seller firm Hindenburg Research, which accused the company of misleading investors, the company was rocked by the departure of founder Trevor Milton. Milton, for his part, has also met controversy over allegations of inappropriate behavior against women in the past. Amidst these reports, Nikola has announced that it will be postponing Nikola World 2020, the event that was expected to unveil the Badger, the company’s answer to the Tesla Cybertruck and the Rivian R1T. 

Nikola takes ‘silencing your critics’ a bit too literally with copyright strikes on YouTube
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