where’s The Fair Use?
Ever since it was founded on February 14, 2005, YouTube has entertained billions of people worldwide with its large variety of videos. From joke videos, to Let’s-plays, to reviews of popular media, it’s safe to say that YouTube is a major part of the Internet as we know it today. What possible problem could anyone have with this website? Well, there is one problem: YouTube’s copyright policies. Users who review movies, TV shows, and video games on YouTube have to be careful in their videos carefully
barraged with copyright strikes from media companies who are trying to protect their products from piracy. The only hole in their argument is that the videos they target are protected under fair use. “In its most general sense, a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and ‘transformative’ purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner,” (http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/what-is-fair-use/). Sadly, most copyright holders don’t care about fair use and are able to send claims and strikes against YouTubers. A claim makes it so that the content holders can either get rid of certain content in a video or even take the monetization away from the creator. In more extreme cases, YouTubers have received copyright strikes, which limit what they can do on YouTube. Their videos are limited to 15 minutes or less, they can’t post their videos as unlisted, and they can’t appeal to a rejected dispute against an existing copyright claim. If a user gets three strikes, their channel gets deleted. While this system does seem like it can help prevent piracy, it is also being abused by media distributers to either make more money or silence criticism.
On February 16, 2016, Doug Walker, better known as The Nostalgia Critic, released a video entitled “Where’s the Fair Use?” In the video, he and a few other users talked about all the problems with YouTube’s copyright system. One of the biggest problems was that some companies were targeting videos that didn’t even use any footage of movies or TV shows. In the video, Brad Jones, creator of thecinemasnob.com, mentions how he was given a strike for a video from his “Midnight Screenings” series. In these videos, Jones and his friends talk about movies they just watched in the theaters without using footage from the movies at all. “There’s no clips, no footage, it is just us sitting in a car, talking about a movie. And if you didn’t know that, you could know that by just simply watching the video,” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVqFAMOtwaI). Walker says that this system, “… is now being used as a means to silence and steal.” Ever since the video was posted, several other YouTubers have made their own videos on the subject featuring the same words, “Where’s the Fair Use?” Users such as Joshscorcher, TheMysteriousMrEnter, and even well-known video game critic Jim Sterling have targeted YouTube and copyright holders for the abuse that they have gone through while trying to do their jobs by making videos. One user, Lily Peet, has said in her video that the only reason companies are abusing the system is because it is structured in a way that they can get away with it. “They fight tooth and nail to keep a monetization claim because they suffer no consequences and only ever benefit from the system,” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TwnCLzGw34). She goes on to say that she, “… doesn’t blame companies like Hasbro for abusing the system when YouTube freely allows them to abuse it.”
As of right now, it seems that YouTube has actually started to listen to people like Doug Walker and Lily Peet, with the CEO of the site, Susan Wojcicki, thanking everyone on Twitter for their feedback on this issue. Even then, there is still a lot of work to be done to fix this flawed copyright policy so that content creators can finally feel safe uploading a video like they should. Where’s the fair use? It’s finally starting to show itself thanks to everyone speaking up.