Fair use: YouTube protects some creators against questionable DMCA takedowns …
Fair use: YouTube protects some creators against questionable DMCA takedowns by paying up to $1M legal costs.
In a blog post on Thursday, Fred von Lohmann, Google’s copyright legal director, wrote that “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.” YouTube said that it has asked some video creators to join an effort in which it is providing indemnification of up to $1 million in legal costs to defend works that have been subject to takedown notices.From Minecraft builds to YouTube videos – not to mention YouTube videos of Minecraft builds – children in 2015 have plenty of options for digital entertainment.
Australian parents worried their kids are stumbling across inappropriate content on YouTube, or just watching entirely too many Justin Bieber videos, now have a solution.Answer: Though Psy’s video has racked up more than 2 billion views on YouTube since being released in July of 2012, Wheels On The Bus has actually been watched more by users (and has nearly a billion views of its own).
Von Lohmann said that they were defending some videos “because we recognize that creators can be intimidated by the DMCA’s counter notification process, and the potential for litigation that comes with it.” The safe-harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects sites like YouTube from liability if, after receiving a notice from the copyright owner, they promptly remove it. Given how easy it is to access, edit, and disseminate videos in the digital age, YouTube has frequently been a focal point for DMCA takedowns, with entire full-length movies often uploaded to the platform. With the launch of its YouTube Kids app in the UK and Ireland, the company is hoping to capitalise, but this being YouTube – owned by Google – it’s also kicking up a debate about its motivations, as well as familiar arguments about children and screen time. Serving up content that has been pre-screened and deemed age-appropriate for little ones, the app is now available for free download from Google Play or the Apple App Store. The Google-owned video giant announced Tuesday evening that its Kids App has been downloaded more than 10 million times since launching 10 months ago in February.
Courts have over time defined “fair use” with a set of four factors, including whether the work is “transformative,” whether it is used for commentary or parody. In addition, thanks to technology improvements over the years, the process for getting videos pulled down by way of DMCA takedown requests has been automated. But the DMCA also considers “fair use,” which allows people to reappropriate copyrighted content from news broadcasts or TV clips to create new programs such as remixes, compilations, or parodies.
The ads initially ignited backlash from a handful of of children’s advocacy groups who filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in April asking it to investigate whether the app exposes young users to unwanted commercials. The fallout has affected everything from political ads to things like a video of a baby bopping along to a Prince song – the latter which actually made it to the U.S. But copyright-holders don’t always consider “fair use” when filing a DMCA takedown, and this is why YouTube is now offering to support some creators. The coalition called on the FTC to “stop these and any other deceptive or unfair practices uncovered as a result of its investigation.” But since the complaints were filed, YouTube has ramped up its efforts to make the app more family friendly. Among them: a remix video that compares the way that women are portrayed in the “Twilight” series to the TV show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” They also cited a video from Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign that initially was taken down because it featured President Barack Obama singing a portion of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”
The 20 top children’s channels had more than 5.2bn views in October alone, from Little Baby Bum’s 428.5m to Toys and Funny Kids Surprise Eggs’ 164.7m YouTube is reacting to the fact that tens of millions of children are already watching. Parents were given the opportunity to “make a choice about how broadly you want your child to explore — turn search on to access millions of family-friendly videos, or turn search off to restrict your child’s experience to a more limited set.” YouTube Kids bars non-child-friendly ads; uses algorithms to filter out inappropriate videos – with a flagging system for parents to warn it about any that slip through the net – and strips out the comments.
While it has plenty of parental controls built-in so the adults can decide exactly what their children watch, the app has also been designed with the under-fives in mind. First, even an hour spent watching YouTube leaves plenty of hours in the day for reading books, riding bikes, drawing and generally getting the kind of face-to-face parental attention that’s so important for children.
Featuring large icons and voice search, your four-year-old should find it easy to navigate — though, let’s be real, they’re probably already better at using the Internet than you. The company already has a track record of being able to identify suitable videos, having garnered press coverage in a number of cases where it asked rights owners to reconsider their takedowns. The likelihood is, if a video does adhere to fair use principles, a copyright holder wouldn’t actually follow up with court action — but if they were to, YouTube has their back. Though only a few video creators have been asked to join the initiative, it’s clear that YouTube wants to make an example of spurious copyright infringement claims and is attempting to deter lawyers from scaring creators with legal threats.
A mother simply wanted to share a cute video with her family, but Universal believed it had the right to have the video pulled since the child was dancing to Prince’s music. Their complaints were less about the paid ads that run in between videos, and more about videos that blur the boundaries between entertainment and advertising. The idea is that the videos picked will be examples that represent a broader example of when the DMCA is used in an abusive fashion, and if they make it to court, a win on the video creator’s part could help to establish legal precedents and provide guidelines for the larger YouTube community to follow in the future. First, in the case of channels for brands such as Barbie, McDonald’s and Fisher-Price that arguably function as ads for their products and services. The first of those complaints is a tough one: can YouTube really treat channels for, say, Lego or My Little Pony as ads when those brands have popular and enjoyable shows on traditional TV?
That’s more troubling, less for behind-the-scenes payments we don’t know about – they’re wrong, but the advertising regulators are already sniffing around the issue – and more for the content itself. As a parent, I’m hoping YouTube Kids doesn’t promote these channels – which are probably easier to sell ads around – ahead of some of the stories, music and educational videos on the service.
It does collect some data, though. “We keep watch history associated with the app so we can offer content recommendations based on that watch history,” a spokesperson said. “For example, a lot of kids like to re-watch their favourite videos and we want to make it easy for them to return to those videos and find other similar videos.” That watch history can be deleted by parents in the app’s settings menu. Anything involving tracking children’s online behaviour raises warning bells with parents – and with regulators, given the varying laws around the world on this area. YouTube has already spawned new formats for children’s entertainment – even if they are sometimes baffling for people outside their target audiences.
Many parents still don’t understand why watching Stampy or Diamond Minecart Dan play Minecraft is as appealing for many children as playing it themselves, for example. YouTube doesn’t say how many of its 1bn+ viewers are children, but it’s safe to bet that it’s already the biggest children’s entertainment platform in the world.
Hopefully, it will use that power through YouTube Kids to nurture – including sometimes to fund – a hotbed of creative, interesting shows that complement the best available on traditional TV channels. Netflix and Amazon are both commissioning original children’s shows; the BBC is planning big things for children around its iPlayer service; and mobile apps such as PlayKids and Hopster are carving their own niches too.
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