YouTube announced this morning plans to up its efforts in protecting video creators from copyright takedown requests for videos that should otherwise be classified as “fair use.” The company says that, in select cases, it will compensate creators whose videos have been subject to these takedown notices for up to $1 million in legal costs in the event the takedown results in a lawsuit for copyright infringement. The videos will remain live on YouTube, during this process.
The new initiative is part of a growing effort to fight back against DMCA abuse.
The DMCA, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act, has long since been wielded by copyright holders who use the law to take down videos that should fall under the protections provided by “fair use.” Intended to crackdown on Internet piracy, the DMCA seems to be more often used these days to interfere with free expression, creativity, innovation, competition, and more.
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. 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. Court of Appeals as a result of a legal effort to fight back against these unjust takedowns.
Now YouTube says that it will selectively offer legal support to a handful of videos that represent “clear fair uses which have been subject to DMCA takedowns.”
In these cases, with the creators’ permission, YouTube will keep the videos live on its site in the U.S., feature them in its YouTube Copyright Center, and cover the cost of any copyright lawsuits brought against them.
“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 (for more background on the DMCA and copyright law see check out this Copyright Basics video),” writes Fred von Lohmann, YouTube’s Copyright Legal Director in an announcement about the new program.
“In addition to protecting the individual creator, this program could, over time, create a ‘demo reel’ that will help the YouTube community and copyright owners alike better understand what fair use looks like online and develop best practices as a community,” he says.