Free Culture, a national student organization that promotes "open access to knowledge and culture," has begun YouTomb, a research project at MIT to study why YouTube removes certain videos from the site.
Unfortunately, you can't watch the videos, among which are John McCain's appearance on Saturday Night Live and some guy named Buckwheat Hicks doing the Florida Gator's dance. As the site explains, copyright holders, like NBC and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., submittheir works to a database of copyrighted work that is, in essence, fingerprinted. YouTube's automated system scans the site's content, looking for matches, at which point the rights holder is notified.
YouTube doesn't take the videos down itself, but rights holders have that option. The project's researchers say they have identified 4511 videos removed fromYouTube alleged copyright violation and 13,938 videos taken down forother reasons.