The Bizarre Cottage Industry of YouTube Obituary Pirates

Kate Knibbs, Wired:

Obituary pirating, where people scrape and republish obituaries from funeral homes and websites like, has been an ethically dubious business for years. Piracy websites are often skilled enough at search engine optimization to rise to the top of search results, and they use the resulting traffic to charge a premium for digital ads that appear next to text lifted wholesale from funeral homes, local newspapers, and other authorized obituary publishers. Occasionally, these pirate sites go a step further, manipulating bereaved people into buying sympathy gifts like candles or flowers and pocketing the money.

The flood of YouTube obituary videos is a janky update on this practice. Some of these channels upload dozens of death notice summaries every hour, abandoning any pretense of looking like an official source of information in an effort to churn out as many videos as they can.

I stumbled across this industry earlier this year after a family friend died. Two of the three YouTube channels I found in June are now gone, but the third continues to churn out videos with titles that are copied from English-language obituaries, but with what sound like unrelated contents in a different language.