The promise has been made.
There are celebrations in the streets, fireworks going off in every city, and Jim Sterling is quite giddy today. Youtube, and their parent company Google, have announced, in a blog entitled “A Step Toward Protecting Fair Use on Youtube”, that they will begin to fight for fair use with legal backing.
If you’re unaware, Youtube allows companies whose copyrighted products are being uploaded to file a DMCA, and then have that video either taken down or slapped with an ad whose revenue would go to said company. Problem is…well…there are a TON of problems with Youtube’s DMCA program. Chief among them was the legal argument for “fair use”. Essentially fair use means you have the right to use copyrighted material, like movie or game clips, in your own work. Wikipedia defines those uses to include “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research“. Youtube however has never done much to defend that fair use definition, until now.
Their blog today not only states that they would like for fair use to exist more earnestly on Youtube, but they’ll also defend it. In a handful of videos with DMCA copyright claims filed against them Youtube and Google will fight back. They’ll refuse to take the videos down and, if need be, take the issue to court. They will even kick in up to $1 million in defense fees.
Obviously this isn’t the end of malicious DMCA take down notices. Youtube has contacted a few prominent Youtubers and clarified exactly why this defense program now exists. The public side of DMCA notices is ugly but the ones Youtube refuses, and privately fights, are even worse. Defining the legal fair use of copyrighted material would suddenly give Youtube some ammo in that fight.
This could be a very big step in the right direction, assuming Youtube and Google win these battles. Copyrighted material should be protected and artists correctly compensated but never at the expense of criticism or editorial.