Tag Archives: copyright

A Step Toward Protecting Fair Use on YouTube

More than 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Some of those uploads make use of existing content, like music or TV clips, in new and transformative ways that have social value beyond the original (such as a parody or critique). In the U.S. this activity is often protected by fair use, a crucial exception to copyright law which can help discussion and creativity across different mediums to continue flourishing.

YouTube will now protect some of the best examples of fair use on YouTube by agreeing to defend them 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 takedowns. With approval of the video creators, 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.

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). 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.

While we can’t offer legal protection to every video creator—or even every video that has a strong fair use defense—we’ll continue to resist legally unsupported DMCA takedowns as part of our normal processes. 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.

Trade Promotion Authority that supports digital economic growth

Today, there are more artists, publishers, and authors creating more works for global audiences, on a growing number of platforms -- on YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Twitter, Dailymotion, Tumblr, Medium, SoundCloud, Etsy, Vine, Pinterest and more.

These digital exchanges have become an increasingly important driver of the global economy. As a result, more open trade has the potential to give creators, online platforms and other businesses access to more consumers around the world. And Trade Promotion Authority -- which empowers U.S. officials to negotiate trade agreements subject to up or down votes in Congress -- presents an opportunity to modernize our trade strategy for the Internet era.

While U.S. trade agreements have historically included copyright provisions to protect right holders, the Internet’s success depends on both copyright protection and pro-innovation limitations and exceptions, such as fair use and safe harbors for online platforms. Without both, Internet platforms -- and the explosion of creativity and new distribution channels they have enabled -- would not be possible.

We tend to take this balanced approach for granted in the U.S. But without trade agreements reflecting that balance, there is a very real risk that the Internet’s most popular platforms -- like search engines, video sharing sites, and social networks -- could be hindered or even blocked in foreign markets on the basis of one-sided copyright principles. And that could hurt the overall U.S. economy; one study found that 1 in 8 U.S. jobs are tied to industries that rely on copyright limitations and exceptions.

We were glad that U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman last year committed to “asking our trading partners to secure robust balance in their copyright systems -- an unprecedented move that draws directly on U.S. copyright exceptions and limitations, including fair use.” That was a big step. 

And while it’s unfortunate that the Trade Promotion Authority legislation now being debated by Congress does not on its face fully reflect Ambassador Froman’s commitment, we’re happy that the bill’s authors made clear for the first time ever (in their accompanying report on the bill) that trade agreements should foster an appropriate balance, including copyright limitations and exceptions. It’s progress. We’re also glad to see other provisions to promote pro-innovation policies globally.

We hope Congress will approve Trade Promotion Authority, and urge trade officials to increasingly promote the balanced copyright policies abroad that have enabled great content and Internet platforms to thrive.