Your JoeDog doesn’t have a YouTube channel but he certainly wastes enough time on there. He loves tennis instruction videos, Ramones shows and old George Carlin specials. It’s an amazing repository of video archives.
Matthew Lush, on the other hand, does have a YouTube channel. He’s a UK video blogger who’s been distributing content on that website since 2005. In that year, he registered a channel under his last name. To his fans, he was /lush as in youtube.com/lush. Easy to find, easy to remember.
Matthew Lush makes a living from advertisements associated with his channel. In order to drive traffic to it, he embeds the address in all his videos. He sold bracelets and other merchandise with the URL on it. For Matthew Lush the URL was everything.
A few weeks ago, a UK company named Lush Cosmetics set up its own YouTube channel. They requested and received /lush for their channel name. The decision to transfer Matthew Lush’s URL to Lush Cosmetics was made by an algorithm.
Google told the BBC that a program awarded Lush Cosmetics the URL based on data from YouTube, Google+, its search engine and other sources.
Matthew Lush wants the URL back but his options are limited. To begin with, it was never his property. YouTube’s namespace belongs to YouTube. They can manage it as they please. His fans have petitioned Lush Cosmetics to return it to him but that relies on the benevolence of a board of directors.
YouTube considers Matthew Lush a valued creator and they’ve agreed to help pay marketing costs associated with the move. On some level that seems pretty generous we don’t have enough detail to make a fair assessment.
There really are no good options for this type of namespace distribution. If you award URLs on a first come, first serve basis, then you invite squatters to sit on namespace for ransom. If you award them by other means then you risk this type of situation.
Your JoeDog suggests you don’t rely on the kindness corporations. If namespace is important, then make sure you own it. Matthew Lush could have bought a domain and redirected it to his YouTube channel. You should do the same.