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YouTube to fight ‘fair use’ copyright cases on behalf of creators

Fred von Lohmann

Fred von Lohmann

YouTube has offered to provide legal defence for a select amount of content that it believes represents ‘fair use’ of copyrighted content.

Announcing the move, the Google-owned video site said that using content like music or TV clips to parody, critique or change that content so it has “social value beyond the original” is often protected by fair use rules in the US.

YouTube claims that these rules help discussion and creativity to flourish and said it is prepared to defend “some of the best examples of fair use on YouTube” in court – if necessary.

“We are offering legal support to a handful of videos that we believe represent clear fair uses which have been subject to DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedowns,” said Google copyright legal director, Fred von Lohmann.

“With approval of the video creators, we’ll keep the videos live on YouTube in the US, feature them in the YouTube Copyright Center as strong examples of fair use, and cover the cost of any copyright lawsuits brought against them.”

YouTube said intervening would help protect individual content creators who may be intimidated by DMCA’s counter notification process.

It also said that its programme could, over time, contribute to a “demo reel” that will help the YouTube community and copyright owners better understand what fair use looks like online and develop best practices.

While we can’t offer legal protection to every video creator – or even every video that has a strong fair use defence – we’ll continue to resist legally unsupported DMCA takedowns as part of our normal processes,” said von Lohmann.

“We believe 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.”

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