YouTube is taking initial steps to defend a handful of creators who are embroiled in copyright disputes by pledging up to $1 million (in each case) to defend “some of the best examples of fair use” on its platform,wrote the company’s copyright legal director Fred von Lohmann.
Fair use is the repurposing of copyright-protected material in instances including criticism, remixes and commentary — or, as von Lohmann puts it, “in new and transformative ways that have social value beyond the original.”
However, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which governs such skirmishes, often serves as a splitting headache for creators, and, in many cases, a surreptitious tool for censorship. That’s because when rights holders submit a DMCA claim, YouTube is required to remove the video in question. While creators can submit counterclaims or wage long and costly legal battles, the content remains deleted until the matter is resolved.
Seeking to buck this imbalance, a high-profile ruling in September concluded that copyright holders must consider fair use before filing a takedown notice.
But now, YouTube is hoping to turn the tables even further by standing behind four embattled creators. In addition to keeping the reported videos online, the company will cover the cost of any lawsuits brought against them. You can check out the initial set of videos — which represent just a “small percentage” of such disputes, YouTube acknowledges.
YouTube’s foray into the copyright fray is also presumably a push to show support for its community of creators amid an explosion of rival video platforms. Facebook, which now counts 8 billion video views every day, is plagued by copyright complaints of its own, including ‘freebooting,’ whereby video creators claim their content is being stolen from YouTube and uploaded to Facebook, thus robbing them of viewership and ad dollars.
In addition to standing firmly behind fair use, YouTube rolled out another nifty tool for creators today. Given that 60 percent of video views typically occur outside of a creator’s home country, it says, the platform has launched a marketplace whereby creators can purchase translations.
In addition, creators can opt to crowdsource translated subtitles and closed captioning via viewers, or even add their own translated titles and descriptions that will automatically display to viewers in their native languages.