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Google takes a stand for YouTube users caught up in fair-use fights

It will defend some YouTube users against DMCA claims in court.


AJ Dellinger


YouTube’s copyright identification system was designed to protect content. Now Google is providing resources to YouTubers to protect them against abuses of that very system.

Google Copyright Legal Director Fred von Lohmann announced on Thursday via the Google Public Policy blog that the company will offer financial support to YouTubers who are fighting legal battles over fair use content.

The decision serves as a show of support for YouTube creators who have wrongfully had their videos taken down due to overreaching abuses of the copyright system. Users can place Digital Millennium Copyright Act claims that may not be valid but are intimidating enough to force the uploader to relent and remove the challenged video.

“We are offering legal support to a handful of videos that we believe represent clear fair uses which have been subject to DMCA takedowns,” von Lohmann wrote. “With approval of the video creators, we’ll keep the videos live on YouTube in the U.S., feature them in the YouTube Copyright Center as strong examples of fair use, and cover the cost of any copyright lawsuits brought against them.”

Electronic Foundation Frontier Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz told the Daily Dot the digital rights group is “pleased” with YouTube’s decision to stand for its users against the abuses of copyright.

“Many people use bogus copyright claims to take down user-generated videos and other content, whether through carelessness or a desire to censor speech that they disagree with. That often works, because the threat of massive, unpredictable damages in a copyright lawsuit is enough to deter most YouTube users,” he said. “By offering to take on that financial risk for some users, YouTube is helping to level the playing field and to defend free speech. We hope that YouTube continues to ramp up the number of fair use videos that they will defend against improper copyright claims.”

While this additional protection won’t be offered broadly to every user—von Lohmann says it YouTube will specifically protect “the best examples of fair use on YouTube”—it’s still a noteworthy show of support for content creators.

Photo via Rego Korosi/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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