Google Vows To Protect YouTube Videos' Right to Fair Use
To combat the unwarranted removal of YouTube videos, Google said it plans to offer legal support to some content creators who upload videos to YouTube and are later hit with copyright claims. Google said it will stand up to wrongful requests to remove content by targeting a select few of the best examples of fair use and even agreeing to defend their creators in court if necessary.
"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," wrote Fred von Lohmann, Google’s copyright legal director, on the company’s public policy blog.
Under the fair use doctrine, videos -- and any form of media -- that take music, television clips and images and transform the content in new and beneficial ways, such as satire, are protected. Examples of fair use videos protected by YouTube might include network television news footage with political analysis added by the YouTube uploader. Many YouTube clips otherwise protected by fair use are still often the targets of DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notices, though.
Google has already offered legal support to a handful of creators of videos that it believes represent clear fair use and have been subject to DMCA takedowns. Google will keep the videos live on YouTube in the U.S., with the permission of the video creators.
The tech giant's announcement was applauded by free speech advocates as the start of a better and clearer copyright policy on the site. At the moment, anyone can make a copyright claim. Google’s system for identifying copyright infringement relies mostly on an automated system that tends to favor those filing complaints over uploaders. Those complaints force a user to either remove the video or give up any claim to its advertising revenue.
Content creators who get such notices generally don’t have the legal or financial means to fight the removal of their videos, whether the notices are warranted or not. An unwarranted takedown can mean sacrificing revenue from advertising embedded in legitimate YouTube content.
In the cases of popular videos that are protected under the fair use umbrella, YouTube will now defend the creators of those videos in court for expenses up to $1 million. About 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
"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," according to von Lohmann.
To demonstrate the new policy, Google posted a playlist on YouTube containing four videos it is protecting, as well as providing a list of several others at the bottom of a page about fair use. On that page, the company said that it will choose the videos earmarked for protection and asked users not to contact them.