YouTube Fighting Take Down Notices.
In what can only be described as a coordinated attack, according to an article in today’s New York Times, YouTube is going to provide defense funding to fight takedown notices for user generated videos that use copyrighted work.
An attack strategy supporting the recent testimony of Kit Walsh, Staff Attorney of the Electronic Frontier Foundation voiced at the recent Congressional Listening Tour at Santa Clara University on the outskirts of Silicon Valley. Ms Walsh was without question the most outspoken of all the attendees at a discussion dominated by representatives from the tech side of the conversation.
I found myself seated in the audience not far from Walsh, who offered commentary on fair use at every opportunity, expressing her view that fare use, like copyright, were stifling creativity. Her most telling comment was that Fare Use needed to apply to not just partial use of copyrighted works, but entire works.
Imagine how allowing entire copyrighted works under a fair use provision would further cloud and complicate a creators ability to control and monetize their work.
YouTube is considered by many as the ultimate abuser of the “takedown” loophole in the DMCA making it the worlds largest and best known ‘alleged’ infringing website. So it comes as no surprise that YouTube would once again focus their attention and resources on weakening artists rights to support one of Google’s most successful business divisions.
Piracy is a problem because our legislators have failed to make fundamental changes to the laws that regulate the use of copyrighted works on the internet. Proposed changes that would strengthen the position of creators are always aggressively opposed by Google, their lobbyists and Google supported organizations, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation. (In the NYT article lawyers from the EFF are quoted repeatedly.)
Fair use on the other hand is an entirely different problem and one that will be difficult to define by either side. User generated content drives a tremendous amount of traffic to YouTube and much of it depends heavily on copyrighted music, films and photographs, which means YouTube wants little or no restraints, while the creators want as much protection as possible.
Currently fair use is decided on a case by case basis by the courts. Just how they will or can create a standardized code for fair use is going to be difficult.
One thing I do know. It is no coincidence that fair use was brought up at a Congressional Hearing in front of Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and other members of the House Judiciary Committee and then followed up by this story in the New York Times ten days later.