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Issue #672: June 7-13, 2020

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Q: Hello, Mr. Geek! I often forward interesting YouTube videos to some friends, and one of them just told me “Keith, when you send these neat U tube things, I get an announcement that says, basically, you are not authorized to view this thing. Any way around that? I don’t know anything about his computer or the operating system he uses. He’s the only one in the group who seems to have this problem.

– Keith N.
Niceville, Florida

A: I really wanted to answer this question, Keith.  Also, I really wanted to give you complete and concise information.  So, I really replied to your contact, but my e-mail really got bounced because the e-mail address that you provided doesn’t really exist. So, I’ll really do my best with the information that I have.  Really.

There are several nuances to your issue that don’t necessarily comport with one another.  The most important one is that YouTube content is generally free, which makes me wonder why your friend would need any kind of authorization to view what you send.  This was one of the reasons I was trying to e-mail you, because I wanted you to send me an example of what he’s complaining about.

Note that I said above that YouTube content is “generally free.”  YouTube also offers premium paid subscription plans, called YouTube Premium and YouTube Red.  Obviously, it wouldn’t make sense for them to allow someone to share content from the paid side of their site with non-subscribers.  So, if you’re a subscriber and he is not, check to be sure you’re not trying to share subscriber-only content.

I can’t be completely (really) certain that the above is the answer to your question, since you said that only one person among those with whom you’re sharing content is having a problem.  Further answers require even more speculation, and, of course, the more speculation I do, the less likely that my answer is accurate.  Nevertheless, one possible answer as to why only one person is having a problem is that the others (and you haven’t said how many people that is) are subscribers to the premium content on YouTube.

One final bit of wild speculation that I can offer is a difference in platform – or the devices that everyone in your group are using to view the content.  Theoretically, this shouldn’t make a difference, but I cannot in any good conscience claim that I have tried even a small fraction of YouTube’s offerings on multiple device platforms using a single common URL as an identifier.  What I’m saying is that perhaps you are sending out a URL that you obtained by visiting YouTube via a PC web browser, and one person in your circle of friends is trying (and failing) to view it on a smartphone or tablet, while everybody else is trying (and succeeding) to view it the same way you did – via a web browser on a PC.

So, here’s what I would advise.  You didn’t say how you got the information that you send to your friends, but I suggest that you don’t copy it out of your browser’s address bar.  Instead, right-click somewhere in the video window and YouTube will present you a context menu with several choices.  Click “Copy video URL”.  This will place a compact version of the video’s address onto your clipboard, perfect for pasting into an e-mail.  You might even find some other cool sharing features on that context menu that you never knew existed.

If none of the above has any effect on the issue, I encourage you to write-in again.  Please supply more information, especially a sample of one that your friend claims doesn’t work for him, and exactly how he’s trying to view it.  Also, ask your friend for the exact words of the “announcement” he gets, or preferably a screenshot of it.

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