YouTube will protect certain YouTube videos in the US against copyright infringement under the fair use policy by offering to defend them in court (and subsequently pay for legal fees), the company said in a blog post. It will allow creators to keep certain copyrighted material like music or TV clips (including parody and critique) to “help discussion and creativity” to flourish, including videos which have been subject to DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedowns.

The company will also keep the videos live in the US on the platform with permission from the creators and feature them in the the YouTube Copyright Center as examples of fair use, while covering legal costs of copyright lawsuits. It says the reason to protect certain videos comes because DMCA’s counter notification process could be intimidating for creators, and along side, this will also help in creating a “demo reel” for fair use, helping other creators and copyright owners.

YouTube will also continue to resist legally unsupported DMCA takedowns as a part of its normal processes. Under the legal doctrine of fair use, copyright protected material can be used without permission under certain circumstances. Different countries have different rules about fair use. In the US, a judge determines fair use by the following factors:

  1. If the purpose and character of use is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work (factual works are more likely to be fair than fiction)
  3. Amount and sustainability of the content used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. (Something which is considered as the “heart” of the work might not be allowed to be used, for example, even if the clip size is small)
  4. Effect of use on the potential market or value of copyrighted work. (For example use that harms a copyright owner from making profit, however exceptions have been made.)

Interestingly, In 2013, YouTube had started cracking down on gaming video creators for copyright infringements. Creators started getting hit with “content ID match” notices, and were being taken down because they featured game soundtracks and ambient noises.

MediaNama’s take: This move stands to benefit videos that make fair use of previous works and yet receive DMCA takedowns. As a content platform, this stand is pretty strong considering it has the right to take down any content which violates its rules or content which receives a takedown notice. What remains unclear is what kinds of content the platform will pick to protect. This may, however, become clearer with time. Also remains to be seen if this will be extended to other countries.

Other YouTube developments:

– Last week, YouTube launched three new translation tools: adding translated titles and descriptions when uploading videos, getting the community to add subtitles and buy translations for videos and captions for content creators.

– In July, Google+ de-linked its profiles from other Google services starting with YouTube. YouTube said that users only needed a Google profile to make comments on the video platform.

– In the same month, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that more than half of YouTube’s watch time happened on mobile devices.

Our YouTube coverage here.

Image Credit: PDPics