If you post on YouTube, you may know that the copyright system is a huge point of contention for many. The program that YouTube uses to scrub through videos to find copyright infringement, many times takes down videos that could be protected under Fair Use. Not to mention that the copyright system currently in place has been abused by those who take down, or claim monetization of videos regardless if they truly own the copyright in question. The ‘Content ID’ program was designed due to the huge number of lawsuits Google has received over the years from those who claim that YouTube is rampant in copyright infringement.
Now, YouTube is going to fight back. In a blog post today, YouTube has stated they will start rejecting some copyright claims outright. If this causes a lawsuit, they will fight it. Their hope is that this will discourage those who falsely claim copyright ownership. The other effect is that more suits may go to court where the boundaries of Fair Use may be defined clearly. Which is something that is sorely lacking today. This may also discourage companies who use Fair Use to silence critics. Which is very prevalent in both the video games, and movie review areas of YouTube.
I must note, that the number of videos they will do this for is very small. They are going to pick their battles. YouTube hopes that protecting a few in the end will protect the many. Since it only takes a few lawsuits in YouTube’s favor to change the landscape of copyright.
“More than 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Some of those uploads make use of existing content, like music or TV clips, in new and transformative ways that have social value beyond the original (such as a parody or critique). In the U.S. this activity is often protected by fair use, a crucial exception to copyright law which can help discussion and creativity across different mediums to continue flourishing.
We are offering legal support to a handful of videos that we believe represent clear fair uses which have been subject to DMCA takedowns. With approval of the video creators, we’ll keep the videos live on YouTube in the U.S., feature them in the YouTube Copyright Center as strong examples of fair use, and cover the cost of any copyright lawsuits brought against them.
We’re doing this because we recognize that creators can be intimidated by the DMCA’s counter notification process, and the potential for litigation that comes with it (for more background on the DMCA and copyright law see check out this Copyright Basics video). In addition to protecting the individual creator, this program could, over time, create a “demo reel” that will help the YouTube community and copyright owners alike better understand what fair use looks like online and develop best practices as a community.
While we can’t offer legal protection to every video creator—or even every video that has a strong fair use defense—we’ll continue to resist legally unsupported DMCA takedowns as part of our normal processes. We believe even the small number of videos we are able to protect will make a positive impact on the entire YouTube ecosystem, ensuring YouTube remains a place where creativity and expression can be rewarded.”
One thing to note, is videos YouTube decides to protect may get region locked to the United States only. Since it is covering the United States Fair Use laws, and not international. So they have to confine it to viewing in that United States region. Yet, the vast majority of copyright claims are using the copyright laws in the United States since YouTube is a United States company.
Will this cure all of the copyright woes on YouTube? No, there is a lot to do. Yet, is this a start? Yes, a much needed start. In the past, YouTube agreed to almost anything companies said in the name of copyright to avoid lawsuits. Now it seems YouTube understands that many are abusing their once relaxed stance, and the internet video medium needs more clear definition on how copyright viewed in terms of Fair Use. This is very important, not only for YouTube, but for any future online video medium to come. In the short term, let us hope that this starts to discourage shadow corporations from claiming videos they have absolutely no copyright over. Well, let us hope it discourages them a little bit.