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.