The Bay Area’s fond farewell to Stanley Roberts just got a lot less fond. Early Monday morning, YouTube terminated more than 2,000 People Behaving Badly videos on the segment’s official TVman1981 channel. The defunct channel now just shows the words “This account has been terminated because we received multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement,” and Roberts thinks the complaints stem from his recent trademark dispute with KRON-4 over the name of the segment.
“I strongly believe that it was KRON,” Roberts tells SF Weekly of the source of the copyright claims, just hours after the official People Behaving Badly YouTube account was terminated. “I think they’re upset because when I said [on the air] that I probably would have stayed in the Bay Area, but they took my trademark.”
(At the end of Roberts’ final segment on Monday, Aug. 20, he said live on the air that “I probably would have stayed in the Bay Area if Nextstar and KRON hadn’t stolen my trademark.” Nextstar Media Group is the owner of KRON-4.)
Update: We’ve confirmed that at least some of the YouTube take down requests do originate from KRON-4’s parent company Nextstar Media Group, as seen in the screenshot above.
The removal of the entire People Behaving Badly archive, with endless bits on people peeing on the streets at Bay to Breakers and parking illegally, was sudden and came without warning. “I got zero notification that anything was going on,” Roberts says. “I woke up, logged on to Twitter, and saw a tweet from someone saying they were all taken down. Which is weird, because I own the copyright,” he claims.
Indeed, the Library of Congress lists Stanley Roberts as the owner of the People Behaving Badly copyright going back to when the segment started airing in 2006. KRON recently trademarked the “People Behaving Badly” name, which could set up a trademark vs. copyright legal battle, but Roberts insists he’s not going to fight it.
According to Roberts, KRON-4 had initially asked him to transfer the People Behaving Badly account to them, which he was unwilling to do because he’d lose his community of more than 87,000 subscribers. He says he did agree to delete the videos, but YouTube terminated the account over copyright infringement claims before he got a chance.
“I was going to delete the videos at some point anyway,” he says, noting that he never monetized or profited from the videos and simply posted them as a public service. “Lots of law enforcement departments around the country have been linking to those videos for training.”
There is a Stanley Roberts GoFundMe page intended to covers the cost of Roberts’ attorney fees he’s incurred thus far in the copyright dispute. But Stanley says he’s not taking this fight any further.
“I’m not mad, I don’t have time to be mad,” he says. “I got a new job [in Phoenix], I’m happy, I’m going to go there with bells on my feet and do what I do best. I’m just disappointed that now the community has a loss, a huge loss.”
“For the last 12 years, viewers in the Bay Area and around the world have let me into their home, either by YouTube or any other kind of social media,” Roberts tells SF Weekly. “I am humbled by that.”
Note: This post has been updated to reflect confirmation that KRON-4’s parent company Nexstar Media Group was responsible for copyright claims against the People Behaving Badly YouTube channel.