Sidhu Moosewala’s ‘SYL’ music video removal: Why is YouTube removing content?

Owned by Google YouTube has removed a new song by late Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala of its platform in India citing a “legal complaint from the government”. The song, SYL, is available in other countries on YouTube, and is also available on audio streaming platforms such as Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn in India.

Why did YouTube remove Sidhu Moosewala’s ‘SYL’ video?

The only reason given by YouTube is the legal complaint from the government. In a statement, the spokesperson for the video streaming platform said, “We have clear policies for removal requests from governments around the world. We review government removal requests when notified through the appropriate legal process, and also review content for violations of our Community Guidelines. And, where appropriate, we limit or remove content in accordance with local laws and our Terms of Service after careful review. All of these requests are tracked and included in our transparency report. The platform did not specify the exact reason why the video was deleted.

What is Sidhu Moosewala’s song “SYL” about?

The song titled SYL – named on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) channel under construction – was recorded just weeks before the singer’s murder and was released on June 23. The song is based on the water issue between Punjab and Haryana for a long time, and the music video which has now been taken down, was about the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, showing the Sikh flag being hoisted at the Red Fort during the farmers’ unrest. The YouTube video got 27 million views in less than three days. It also received 3.3 million likes on the video streaming platform.

What drives YouTube to remove videos from its platform?

YouTube uses a variety of mechanisms to remove videos from its platform, including community reports as well as requests from government agencies, law enforcement agencies, court orders, etc. Government requests are made either through official channels such as web forms etc. or through informal channels such as Google’s public policy team. Some claims may allege infringement of intellectual property rights, while others may allege violation of local laws prohibiting types of content on grounds such as defamation.

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How many times has the Indian government asked YouTube to remove content?

According to Google’s transparency report, in 2021 there were 1,670 government requests to remove content from YouTube. This ranged in categories such as defamation, government criticism, violence, religious offense, national security, hate speech, copyright, privacy and security, and more. In 2020, 1,538 such requests were made.

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