In a certain sense, there is no law on the Internet. Sure, there are things you can do with the Internet which will get you in trouble with some governments, but that’s invariably a matter of governments protecting their prerogatives from the Net’s freedoms. As I understand it, the procedures for avoiding most governments’ notice is surprisingly easy for a savvy computer user (most of it has to do with using something besides Windows). By its very nature, the Internet is a place where plain old blind trust is the only way you’ll get much of anything done.
We are used to a certain amount of give and take. We tolerate ads on most sites we like to use because that’s how the sites pay the bills for hosting. If some sites are backed by large commercial operations, there is a certain transfer of trust bleeding over from the legal and ethical restraints which apply in brick-n-mortar space. Longevity of any service, coupled with popularity implying a certain level of user satisfaction, is the ultimate trust rating on the Net. However, should some service violate that trust, there tends to be a certain stickiness of continued use.
For example, YouTube recently removed some controversial videos, in particular those related to the 911 Truth Movement. This sort of action rubs Net activists the wrong way. It puts a dent in the level of trust for YouTube, tarnishing their image as generally fair. The difficulty for those who see any similar action as a problem of principle itself is in knowing it may prove difficult to get the average user’s attention.
The vast majority of those who enjoy the Net freedoms tend not to notice anything which doesn’t hit them square in the face. Further, many of them have developed a sickeningly high level of tolerance about such losses. Even when you do get them riled up and active, it’s often just one more form of entertainment, for which they quickly lose interest. These are the users on the Net who make it hardest for the few of us who take this more seriously. The biggest threat to us is really big companies using their really big viewership as a buffer to ignore the principles of trust.
I’m guessing YouTube will get away with this.