YouTube Steps Up to Protect Content Believed to Be Strong Examples of Fair Use

YouTube understands that many homemade videos that are clearly considered fair use under the Copyright Act become subject to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) takedowns, which is burdening to content creators.

YouTube has announced that four video creators will come under YouTube’s legal protection, under a program unveiled in a blog post. The blog mentioned videos made by a game reviewer, a UFO debunker, an Ohio pro-choice group, and a commentator and comedian.

“We are offering legal support to a handful of videos that we believe represent clear fair uses which have been subject to DMCA takedowns,” writes YouTube copyright lawyer Fred Von Lohmann. “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.”

Although it is impossible for YouTube to protect every video that has a strong fair-use defense, Von Lohmann believes that “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’s proactive involvement in the copyright space in the digital age will undoubtedly impact what constitutes fair use and potentially reduce unwarranted DMCA takedown requests.  YouTube creators can be a little more reassured that a huge corporation like YouTube is willing to standup for content that falls under fair use and against copyright owners who overly exert their rights.

“My videos have been subjected to repeated and unwarranted DMCA takedown requests,” wrote one video maker, Hugh Atkin. He has sent counter-notifications, only to have identical takedown notices pop up months later. “I would urge YouTube to look at ways of discouraging such obviously vexatious abuses of process on the part of claimants.”

However, the four examples that YouTube chose so far are extremely clear examples of fair use. If, or when, YouTube decides to protect a video that is a little more questionable in terms of whether or not it falls under fair use, the legal battle would be nothing short of interesting.