Why YouTube is offering legal support for users threatened with takedowns
Google offers YouTube copyright support.
When an online video creator receives a notice instructing them to take down a video because it contains copyrighted material — such as a snippet of a TV show or, until recently, even the song “Happy Birthday” — they often have few options but to comply. Oh, the network’s COO, said several years ago The Young Turks tried to incorporate a video of a homeless man-turned-DJ from a local news station in Ohio into one of their segments.There are many channels, which use the “Soup”, or “John Stewart” method of journalism, whereby they play a clip from a movie or television show and react to what is said with editorial or journalistic commentary.
Copyright battles can often prove expensive and drag on for years, presenting a challenge for video creators and for video sharing sites, which have often cracked down harshly in a bid to stop the spread of pirated material. Hopefully this new support from YouTube will give YouTubers the confidence they need to continue creating videos as long as they abide by the fair use rules. Now, YouTube is offering an alternative, announcing on Thursday that it will begin providing “legal support” to a handful of users so they can fight claims from copyright holders. Fast forward to Thursday, when YouTube pledged financial and legal resources to some creators to help combat unwarranted copyright claims and takedown demands. The app is essentially a safe version of YouTube will make it easier for kids to find videos on topics they want to explore – and it’s simple to navigate for little fingers.
The site, which is owned by Google, is offering aid to the creators of four videos that it says meet the standard of fair use, an exemption to US copyright law that allows new projects that make use of copyrighted material in a way that goes beyond the copyright holder’s original intent, for example by commenting, parodying, or satirizing it. Nine months after it was released in the United States, the YouTube Kids app from Google crossing the Atlantic and will launch its service in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The company says the move is intended to correct some of the power balance that can be directed against content creators in the wake of the controversial 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which implemented digital rights management software often used to protect music or downloadable movies from online piracy. “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,” wrote Fred von Lohmann, Google’s copyright legal director, in a blog post announcing the move. The videos YouTube has selected so far are wide-ranging, including a video game review, a UFO-debunking, a critique of state lawmakers in Ohio by a local pro-choice group, and a comedic commentary on the controversy surrounding former NAACP chapter president Rachel Dolezal. In the app’s defense, most of these instances occurred in classic Warner Brothers cartoons, but the two groups were not convinced to lay off YouTube’s case.
YouTube has its own content detection system, known as Content ID, which allows rights holders to identify content that is comprised partially or entirely of their content. Apparently, negative reviews of third-rate video games. “No Offense”, uploaded by the National Organization for Marriage, which used a rant by Perez Hilton as an example of rude behavior from proponents of same-sex marriage. Providing a legal defense on fair use grounds may also assuage long-running criticism that YouTube’s automatic system for responding to takedown notices does not always allow users to contest the decision to remove a video, he adds. “Google hasn’t announced any changes to its larger practices, but they’re clearly trying to position themselves as more user friendly,” Grimmelmann says. “You could almost read this as an offering, to a group that has had reasons to feel slighted.” Constantine Guiliotis – whose YouTube channel “U.F.O Theater,” focuses on debunking U.F.O. sightings by combining clips found online with his own commentary – was one of the users selected for the effort. Rich, a University of Michigan student, said this is why many of his videos — mostly scripted reviews of video games and movies — are more likely to get flagged. 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”.
This move comes following the ruling against Universal Music this fall, where the court upheld that copyright owners must consider fair use before sending a takedown notice. The program is also intended as an educational effort for the site’s users about fair use, including creating a library showing successful examples of using copyrighted material lawfully, Google says.
So far, the site is taking a carefully targeted approach to what videos it chooses to defend, noting that the program will support only very small portion of videos that are threatened with takedown notices, and may not extend to some videos that would likely be considered fair use. YouTube said though it can’t offer legal protection to every video creator, the platform will “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.” YouTube is a fantastic service for a huge number of reasons, but if there’s one thing that’s not fun about it, it’s the ever-existing threat of a company taking legal action against you because of a video upload.
But Grimmelmann says the site could do more to educate users by closely tailoring its guidelines on appealing a DMCA violation to more closely follow the law. Naturally, YouTube won’t protect every video that receives a takedown request, but said it will cover the legal costs of those videos it deems worthy of protection. This is about people who are making videos often using their home computers – people who are fans, people who are remixers, people who are making video that is personally important to them, that will never be part of the marketplace.”
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