Thanks for clarifying in your blog post yesterday about Gmail account expiration. Is it the same situation for YouTube accounts? Do YouTube accounts ever expire and can you acquire the username over time if no-one is using the account?
Thanks for your feedback about my recent blog post about Gmail account expiry. Because Google owns YouTube, there are some similarities in terms of account expiry and also some crossover in relation to YouTube account hijacking and username impersonation.
YouTube Account Expiry and Transfer
The creation of a YouTube channel requires a Google account. There is no brandname protection over YouTube account creation. Whoever registers a channel name first *owns* that channel.
If someone owns a Google account permanently linked to a YouTube channel e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org linked to YouTube.com/brandname, to use that channel you would have to convince the Google account holder to transfer the whole account over to you.
Just like Gmail, when a YouTube account is closed, the username is no longer available for use. It’s permanently reserved so you can’t have it transferred to another YouTube account. A closed YouTube account will bring up an error message like this one.
YouTube Account Hijacking
Unlike Google accounts, YouTube have a clearer policy when it comes to username squatting and brand impersonation. From their Username Policy guidelines:
“Impersonating another user by copying their channel layout, using a similar username, or posing as them in comments, emails or videos is considered harassment and is a violation of our Community Guidelines… In cases of username squatting, YouTube may release usernames in cases of a valid trademark complaint.”
Despite the clearer policy guidelines, YouTube still prefers to take a *hands off* approach when dealing with trademark complaints:
“If you are a trademark owner and you believe your trademark is being infringed due to a username issue, please note that YouTube is not in a position to mediate trademark disputes between users and trademark owners. As a result, we strongly encourage trademark owners to resolve their disputes directly with the owner of the username.”
YouTube Account Recovery
If your brand-related YouTube account is being squatted, approach the owners and politely ask if they would be willing to hand over the account/s. Keep in mind that they will have to agree to hand over the related Google account as well. If that fails, you might consider negotiating a price for hand over, as I recommended in an earlier post for Gmail accounts.
If you own the trademark for your brand/company name being squatted on YouTube, lodge a YouTube Trademark Complaint. If the YouTube channel in question is in violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines or is clearly impersonating another user or brand, you can report it via the YouTube Help and Safety Tool.
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