YouTube: Where's the Free Use

YouTubers have been getting slammed more frequently for using copyright material. Recently, copyright claims have reached an all time high for those YouTubers being attacked, even with the incorporation of fair use.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, fair use is a legal doctrine that allows small amounts of copyright material to be used without permission of the copyright owner if used for fair and reasonable uses.

This means that videos like parodies or review channels are able to use samples of copyrighted material without the copyright holder’s permission. Even with fair use, both videos and channels have been deleted on grounds of copyright infringement. This affects the producer’s income and their work.

The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) helps both the YouTubers and Copyright Owners by protecting their work from misuse. The YouTube copyright infringement claiming system gives out two different penalties, a claim and a strike.

A strike can have the user’s video taken down from a request to YouTube by the copyright owner. If given a strike, the channel becomes limited. One of these limits forces videos to only be fifteen minutes long. If a channel gets up to three strikes, the channel is taken down.

A claim is less severe, but more easily abused. If a claim is made towards a user, they can try to dispute the claim with the copyright owner who can take up to 30 days to respond. If they do not respond, the claimed video goes back to normal. If they do respond, they can either remove the claim, or re-establish the claim and take another 30 days to respond.

YouTube monetization helps YouTubers support themselves making content, but copyright owners can file claims and strikes that can take the money they’re making for themselves.

Copyright holders have successfully made claims to other’s work because it uses material they own, even if the producers of the videos are protected under the fair use law. And even if the claim is false, there is no consequence to those trying to take advantage of the DMCA.

Robyn Moore from “Anime America” said in a video explaining their situation on the free use abuse that they have been getting harassed by the company “YAM112003” with claims about copyright infringement. At first, Moore was able to send an appeal and the claim was removed. But  YAM112003 kept making claims and taking a longer time to respond to the point where Anime America can’t make enough appeals to help them get their money back.

Channel Awesome, the site that makes the popular “Nostalgia Critic” videos, have had to reduce and even exclude clips from movies they review because of how many claims they kept receiving.

YouTube users are allowed up to three appeals at once, giving the advantage to those claiming rather than those defending. Companies abuse the DMCA and try to take everything that should be the user’s and make it their own. The users are much more restricted compared to the studios making the claims that it’s basically giving one side unlimited power.

YouTube channels are becoming concerned  about videos they believe could be claimed or taken down. Studios offended from negative criticism they receive can make a claim or strike to take it down. YourMovieSucksDOTorg received a copyright strike from director Derek Savage for a negative review of his movie, “Cool Cat Saves the Kids.”

This not only harms YouTuber’s careers and income, but it also limits people’s freedom of speech and creativity. Doug Walker, aka the Nostalgia Critic, made a video covering this issue and has influenced many other YouTubers who have been getting their videos claimed and even removed to speak out. With his help, users around the Internet are being informed about this issue.

This affects the viewers, too. I enjoy many channels and their videos because their expansive knowledge of different topics. It entertains and inspires many to do the same and share their voice to the world, so this abuse needs to end to protect everyone and their freedom of speech.