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Google to Offer “Legal Support” to Certain Fair Use Videos

November 19, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

YouTube has become a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment world, and while the majority of TV networks and Hollywood would love to think that it’s still the reserver of geeks and nerds, this is no longer the case. Music stars are routinely born on YouTube outside of American Idol and the X-Factor, film trailers explode on YouTube and often lead to decent opening weekends for a lot of big films. YouTube has found itself a neat little home on the internet, and it’s only getting bigger and bigger. With the power to sway public opinion, it’s no wonder that many videos on YouTube using footage from other videos or images under copyright have become targets for the original copyright holders.

Nintendo is a famous abuser of this, and routinely issues takedown notices on videos for even using specific copyrighted images, never mind footage of games the Japanese firm wants reviewers to split with Nintendo. More often than not however, the big targets are videos that are other trying to get a different kind of message across or perhaps criticize politicians or something similar. On their Public Policy Blog, Google has outlined what they’re going to do about this and have said that “YouTube will now protect some of the best examples of fair use on YouTube by agreeing to defend them in court if necessary.”

Among the examples listed by YouTube on their explanation of Fair Use is YouTuber ProJared, who often uses a lot of video game footage to either criticize or highlight issues in games both past and present. Fair Use can mean a lot of things, and it’s refreshing to hear that YouTube will be willing to fight on behalf of some videos that face takedown notices for the wrong reasons. This will of course only apply to the US, but it’s nice to see the fair use exception, often referred to as “parody law”, be defended by YouTube. The parody law allows content creators to use existing footage and create something to entertain, education or even criticize. It’s one of the few policies that can be used to keep a video up in the face of a complaint simply because the copyright holder doesn’t like or agree with the content. Google ended their blog post by saying that they will “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.”