YouTube to back some video creators' court cases

YouTube to back some video creators' court cases

YouTube will pay court costs to the creators of some videos accused of copyright infringement in cases that the online video giant believes represent clear cases of fair use.

The company, owned by Google, said Wednesday it will keep those videos online despite copyright takedown notices. It will also cover up to a million dollars in legal costs associated with fighting the takedown.

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In a blog post announcing the program, Fred von Lohmann, Google's copyright legal director, said that the plan could help the company “create a ‘demo reel’ that will help the YouTube community and copyright owners alike better understand what fair use looks like online and develop best practices as a community.”

The program will not be widespread, however. Von Lohmann said that YouTube will back a “handful” of videos in court.

“While we can’t offer legal protection to every video creator—or even every video that has a strong fair use defense—we’ll continue to resist legally unsupported [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] takedowns as part of our normal processes,” he said. “We believe even the small number of videos we are able to protect will make a positive impact on the entire YouTube ecosystem, ensuring YouTube remains a place where creativity and expression can be rewarded.”

A creator can use another person’s copyrighted work under the doctrine of fair use when they use it in certain capacities such as commentary or parody.

The effort to protect fair is a small part of YouTube’s expansive copyright efforts. The company has a suite of tools allowing rights holders to challenge what they see as copyright infringement and has an automated system for recognizing content that may infringe on copyright.