What? YouTube Took my Video Down for Copyright?

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by opensourceway

If it has not happened to you in your video assignments, it is more likely occur in doing remix/mashup assignments- a notice from YouTube about copyright violation.

It sucks. You get mad.

They use a technology called ContentID that is automatically able to determine if a users upload includes video or audio that matches copyrighted content. The movie studios, song publishers that own the copyright to a movie have an ability to trigger this automatically. Sometimes you just get a warning, sometimes it prevents you from embedding media, and in some cases your video night be removed outright.

It feels unfair, especially if the source clips themselves come from YouTube (it is not called “YourTube”). In education, you have some provision for using copyrighted media under the guidelines of fair use- this is not a free license, but hinges on four factors:

  • the purpose and character of your use
  • the nature of the copyrighted work
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market.

which you can see are not quite formulaic. If you are going to use published movies or songs in your works, doing simple montages, e.g. just editing clips together, is not all that different from the original in the eyes of the law. You are on better ground if your work is really something new beyond the original work.

Fair use is not a law. It does not offer you protection. It gives you grounds to argue the fairness in court, before a judge (and pay a lot of legal fees to do so).

See YouTube’s explanation on fair use but really the best resource is Fair Use Tube.

And despite repeated appearances in Youtube, just adding “no copyright infringement intended” is not a defensible stand.

You have a few options if a takedown notice happens in your creative ds106 work.

  • Revise your work so it is more original, more different from the copyrighted work. Is that song really critical? Can you use creative commons licensed material? Are there other clips you can use?
  • Upload your video to vimeo, which does not employ content ID (but you agree that anything you upload is not copyrighted content). Yes this is easier and will solve the immediate problem of your video being able to be seen, but does not strictly prevent you from any implications of copyright violation. It merely lets you get away with posting the video.
  • Appeal the YouTube action under the terms of fair use. See the Fairuse Tube site for detailed information on what steps to take and suggestions for phrasing in your appeal.

Or maybe just sing the Disclaimer Blues

For more insight see Kind of Screwed – Andy Baio’s tale of trying to do everything right in doing a derivative work and still getting sued and it opens many difficult questions about copyright, fair use, derivative works.

Is it a crime?

Drawing by Amy Burvall

Drawing by Amy Burvall

But this is also a call for you to ponder about such ownership of popular culture. Should we have access to repurpose content to create new art? From Baio’s post on No Copyright intended

Here’s a thought experiment: Everyone over age 12 when YouTube launched in 2005 is now able to vote.

What happens when — and this is inevitable — a generation completely comfortable with remix culture becomes a majority of the electorate, instead of the fringe youth? What happens when they start getting elected to office? (Maybe “I downloaded but didn’t share” will be the new “I smoked, but didn’t inhale.”)

Remix culture is the new Prohibition, with massive media companies as the lone voices calling for temperance. You can criminalize commonplace activities from law-abiding people, but eventually, something has to give.

And consider the copyright shoe on the other foot; how do you feel about people you do not know appropriating creative works you have made?


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