The Viral Propagation of Information and the Spirit of the Law

During the Recent Unpleasantness over the destruction of the Rosetta Stone project for Col. Allen West’s speech (and the shutdown of Vlad Tepes’ Vimeo channel), I referred to the removal of Vlad’s viral video from Youtube. The video in question was a shortened version of Col. West’s February 19 speech with English subtitles added. The original, longer video was recorded at the FDI event by Pamela Hall.

Vlad never understood why his version of the speech went viral. In order to get it under the ten-minute Youtube limit, he had to cut the introduction and the opening remarks from the front of. Col. West’s segment. But the original video was only nineteen minutes long, so there wasn’t that much difference in length. Perhaps the English subtitles were attractive to the hard of hearing, or to non-native English speakers.

In any case, Vlad’s shorter video peaked at about 75,000 views per day, with an amazing total of over 800,000 views before it was pulled. Kitman, who is a video wizard, kindly processed some traffic statistics for me, and the graph below shows the daily fluctuations of traffic on Vlad’s version of the video. The sudden drop on April 27 is a result of Ms. Hall’s request that Youtube remove the video:

Viral video, Vlad Tepes

As you can see, for no identifiable reason, traffic on the video took off early in April, and then skyrocketed in the last couple of weeks before its demise.

Below is a cumulative traffic graph for Ms. Hall’s original video. This shows the total number of views during the same time period, increasing gradually to slightly over 8,000 at the point when Kitman took his snapshot. The points when the traffic increased — such as when the video was embedded at Politically Incorrect — can be seen where the graph bumps upwards more steeply at several points:

Original video, Pamela Hall

The final bump upwards, which added several hundred views to her total, occurs at the end, after Ms. Hall asked Youtube to remove Vlad’s version of the video.

To put the situation into perspective, using the data at hand (that is, a cumulative rather than a daily-traffic graph), I made an approximate comparative chart of the daily traffic of the two videos, overlaying the figures for the original video in red on top of the graph of Vlad’s traffic, using the same scale for both:
– – – – – – – –

Viral and original videos together
As you can see, the original video did not pick up the high level of traffic after the removal of the viral version. When Vlad’s video disappeared, the viral event was extinguished.

This illustrates an interesting and important characteristic of viral propagation: viral traffic is non-transferable. When the link that went viral becomes defunct, traffic that otherwise would have gone to it does not switch to some other version of the same video, image, or text. The wave simply fades out, and the viral phenomenon vanishes.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

If Vlad’s video hadn’t been taken down, it would be closing in on a million views by now. It might even have passed that figure, given the overall accelerative trend it showed during the last several weeks of its existence.

Its absence is unfortunate, because Col. West’s message is one that all of us would like to see spread, virally or otherwise. There is little likelihood that any rerouted version of Col. West’s message will be seen by the same vast audience that was attracted, for some inexplicable reason, by Vlad’s version.

Copyright holders resent it when their work is being used improperly by others. It is unfair when their efforts receive insufficient recognition or acknowledgement. No one deserves to work hard for a good cause without being given credit.

During my career as a landscape painter and illustrator, I often experienced the use of my work without permission or credit. My personal rule back then — which remains in effect for the digital images I create for the Counterjihad — is this: As long as no one seeks to make a profit from my efforts, they are free to reproduce them.

I’m a Fan of Disproportionate ResponseFor example, when I see “I’m a Fan of Disproportionate Response” displayed repeatedly on sidebars or as a personal avatar, it pleases me, even if no link to Gates of Vienna is attached to it.

The issue here is the conflict between the letter and the spirit of the law. I operate as much as I possibly can within the realm of the spirit of the law. This requires me to approach the act of creation with a sense of abundance.

My motto has always been: “Go ahead and take it; there’s plenty more where that came from.”

11 thoughts on “The Viral Propagation of Information and the Spirit of the Law

  1. I would just like to add one thing. When I posted the video, I added as well as English titles, something I thought might also aid anyone wishing to translate it, a text effect linking to the Geller-Spencer event where it was filmed. This was in the actual video itself.

    Once it went viral, Pamela Geller asked me to also add her name and Robert Spencers in the video itslef, and I did, using the anotation feature of youtube as well as paste an add for their DVD in the description complete with address etc.

    At no point was I told that this video actually did not belong to Ms. Geller, but really was the property of Pamela Hall.

    If I where Ms Hall, I wonder who I should be mad it.

  2. I think you ALL need to patch it up and get back on the bandwagon together, for the sake of the country and our future.
    The Rosetta Stone was fabulous!
    All these sites are.
    Don’t divide and be conquered.
    All five of you…

  3. Merrilee —

    Unfortunately, there is nothing that either Vlad or I can do about it. Only the copyright holder can restore the video to Youtube.

    And even if that were to happen, I doubt that it would do any good. The viral momentum is gone. The link has been dead long enough that it is probably not available to the extent it was earlier. I expect that people have stopped passing it around by now.

    This particular opportunity has been lost. I doubt that anybody can fix it.

  4. How about a plan B? I suggest that you, Dymphna and Vlad approach Col. West, explain the situation and ask him to work with you to produce a brand new and higher quality film. I’m sure that millions of people would want to see it. Didn’t he just thank you for putting him out there?

  5. You New —

    It’s not a bad idea.

    Yes, Col. West has been very supportive. But you have to remember that any version of the FDI video, no matter how many people see it, has at most a marginal effect in his election campaign.

    He is running for Congress, and Islamization does not loom large in his local district as a campaign issue. He will be focusing on the economy, the condition of our military, and the socialist takeover of the federal government — when he is not worrying about purely local issues.

    The value of his video was the inspiration it was providing for people all over the world, similar to what Geert Wilders’ speeches accomplish. That is what we have now unfortunately lost.

    Another video is a possibility. But the logistics may be a bit dicey — the campaign is on, and Vlad is in Ottawa and not in Florida. He doesn’t get paid for what he does, so I don’t know if he could manage the trip or not.

  6. @Merrilee–

    I think you ALL need to patch it up and get back on the bandwagon together, for the sake of the country and our future.

    In theory, Merrilee, you have a good idea. Unfortunately, in this case it isn’t any more workable than attempting to patch things up with Charles Johnson was. We learned from that experience that sometimes things can’t be mended, much as we might like that.

    Atlas Shrugs and Jihad Watch delinked us a long time ago. We didn’t notice until readers started asking us about it. We referred them to the source(s) — i.e., Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, but I’ve no idea what happened as I don’t think any of them ever reported back.

    So we figured out (duh!) that they were mad about something, and we knew that eventually it would explode. We just didn’t know when and we didn’t worry about it, anymore than one worries about the weather.

    We were caught off-guard when the videos of Col West were taken down. Up until then, we fully believed the FDI organizers owned the copyright to the videos since they were selling the DVD for the event. That’s why, in every Col West translation, we fully cited and linked to them. In fact, we hoped it might sell some DVDs for them.

    I don’t hold any particular animosity towards them, but I will stand up for myself and I won’t tolerate bullying.

    Aside from that, removal of those videos was evil, pure and simple. It is an evil that can be remedied, but i am not expecting that anyone outside the gates of Vienna community will cooperate in re-creating the good generated by those videos of Col. West’s speech.

    Fortunately, we can do this again, with a fresh video of Col. West and more labor by our translators and subtitlers. It is a community effort…once more with feeling.

    Have you ever had an irreconcilable conflict? One that no matter what you did, you couldn’t resolve? These happen in families and at work. If you’ve ever been ensnared in such an experience you know that sometimes it’s not about you at all.

    Anyway, thank you for your concern. I appreciate it.

  7. Atlas Shrugs and Jihad Watch delinked us a long time ago.

    I noticed that at JW after the Hesperado* brought to my attention the fact that Andrew Bostom’s and Diana West’s websites are no longer on JW’s blogroll. Given the invaluable services provided by those two blogs and GoV, I see no rational explanation for delinking them.

    *The link is to his post on Col. Allen West, which also mentions the absence of links to Bostom’s and West’s blogs on JW’s front page.

  8. The outrage of the Pamelas seems a bit odd considering the fact, that they both have numerous videos on their respective youtube channels, which they surely did not produce themselves – without proper linking.

    Geller also had no less than 5 videos taken down by youtube because they used the great swiss cinematographer Rainer Klausmann´s footage from “Der Untergang”.
    In fact about a third of the views on Gellers channel stems from an old Etta James video from french television, she uses to promote her own blog and some foxnews footage of Ted Kennedy.

    I also find it interesting, that ALL the other important videos of Allen West, whether from Hudson institute, CSP, C-PAC or the teaparties (even from FDI-event if shot by Morgan Wright) seems to be spread around and mirrored unobstructed on the many channels and platforms – in the usual way.

    Allen West´s viral video seems to have been a typical case of intense email-forwarding running wholly indepedent of the newstream. Analysis of this kind of viral activity suggest that atleast 2/3s of the total viewcount comes AFTER the peak in a long fadeout. When Allen Wests video was taken down it was at 74K a day and had a total of 800.000
    – Assuming this was his last peak and that the video would have followed the suggested fade-out pattern – he would have reached 2,4 million total within a couple of months

    Now he won´t and this is the saddest part, because although Pamela Hall recorded it, the value of the video was all due to West. He was the creative one, not Pamela Hall, and now he is the one loosing out on all that sweet attention.

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