Tag Archives: Stephanie Lenz

YouTube to Offer Legal Protection for Creators

The number of take down notices that YouTube receives on a daily basis is very high. The reason for this is because content creators wants to protect their content in any form that they can so they look for ways to protect it by preventing other people from using it, especially if the goal is to make any kind of money from it. The challenge with that is Fair Use of content protects Creators from having to take down other people’s videos if all they are doing is talking about it and commenting on it. Fair Use protects the person who posted the video without the need for permission. But if the Creator only reposted the original video with no additional change or commentary added to it then they do break copyright law if the video was protected in the first place. If the video has a Creative Commons license and the original owner wants to take down the video then they are not able to do that since the video has a CC license on it.

Creating a Level Playing Field
YouTube gets its contents from all the amazing Creators who have taken the time and effort of editing their videos and posting them online to their website. Millions of channels exist on YouTube which means this increases the chance of people breaking the law. In the beginning YouTube would follow suit on any take down notice that came their way because it was a new medium at the time but now that it has had time to mature and grow they have had time to learn what all they can do to help keep content, that rightfully belongs online, there.

Imagine someone took a video you made of your family vacation and posted it on their channel without your permission and commented on all the crazy things your family likes to do. In an outrage you send a take-down notice to YouTube asking them to take down the video because they took it without your permission. This would affect the whole ecosystem of memes and viral videos out there that people have created from other people’s content. The original owner of a meme would prevent their meme from going viral if they required everyone to pay them first before reposting it. Where would the fun be in that.

In an effort to help keep content on YouTube that rightly belongs there YouTube is now offering legal services to YouTubers that have to deal with take-down notices or face legal action. Many creators online are just everyday posting about something silly or funny, or in many cases, useful to other people. In the case of the family who was sued by Universal Music Publishing Group alleging that her home video of her daughter dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” song violated copyright is a perfect example of companies overstepping their legal actions. I wrote an article about it when it came out. It was decided that the copyright holder should account for Fair-Use of the song and that it was intended for entertainment purposes only. The court ruled in favor of Lenz and that the actions of both Universal and Prince were unlawful.

Understanding Fair-Use and Creative Commons
Ask any middle school or high school kid who has done a research project recently where they got the images for their project from and they will tell you, “the internet.” They don’t realize that when you take an image online and put it into their project that they are claiming that they are the owners of those images. Many people also have this false assumption that anything taken from the internet is fair game, to a certain degree, but that with some content the use of copyright still stands.

Many people believe that the internet should still hold up for copyright law but that is not the case when the internet reaches all parts of the world. The laws in one country don’t hold up in another and for a regular person to try and challenge such a claim in court is literally just wasting their time and money. In any case though when you use wide-reaching audience website like YouTube, then you have to consider copyright laws, Fair-Use, and Creative Commons before posting anything.

Examples of Fair-Use
1. Commentary on someone’s video
2. A Parody on someone else’s work
3. News Reporting
4. Teaching
5. Criticism on someone’e work
6. Search Engine Results
7. Research

Purpose of Creative Commons Licenses
When an author wants to
1. Give the right to others to share their work
2. Allow others to use their work with their projects
3. encourage others to build upon their work and make it their own.

Many search engines have features built in that help you find CC content so you understand that you are not stealing work that is protected under law. In Google’s search engine under search tools you are given an option for Usage Rights, if you click that option then you can select from a list that allows you to pick what kind of content you are looking for. In many cases you are looking to reuse something someone has created. This option works for just images.

Posting Content on YouTube
It is important to consider how you want people to use your videos that you post online. YouTube currently offers Standard License and CC license. If you post a video with a Standard License then people need to get permission to use your video for anything outside of Fair-Use. If your video is CC then you are giving permission to people to use your video in anything they want.

This is important to think about before starting a YouTube channel that way you can consider how your content will be used by others. If you are starting a company then you might consider protecting your work in order to protect your brand. Many people create channels just to play around and talk about stuff they like so if that is the case then using a CC license will be best.

Just consider the long term for how you want people to view you YouTube channel and the content you create. This will help protect you from legal troubles down the road.


News Article

YouTube to Pay Fees for Some Video Makers to Fight Takedowns

Your YouTube videos with Copyright Music are safe, for now

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The title includes, “for now,” because there is a chance that a higher court later down the road overturns this ruling, which is a completely fair ruling but given that more and more courts are based on which side they lean towards there is no telling what will happen five years down the road from this.

Let’s set the stage for a moment – you are with your family at your home just enjoying a good time when suddenly one of your children starts dancing to a song that comes on the radio. You pull out your phone and start recording this cute little dance they are doing. You hear and see all the time other people posting videos of children singing or dancing along to their favorite songs so you figured why not post this up on YouTube to share with your family and friends and the rest of the world.

You see nothing wrong with posting the video so you are quick to upload it right to YouTube and give it a cute title. It quickly garners views and you are getting great comments until one day your video is taken down and you are given a notice about what has happened. Now most people do not have the money to take on giants like YouTube or the people responsible for requesting that the video be taken down so this a unique case.

The person, Stephanie Lenz, decided to do just that and sue Universal Music. This week the US court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit found that copyright holders must consider fair use before requesting that their material be taken down from online services, like YouTube. The case is set to go to trial and will determine just to what extend this means. In the meantime, people who record videos out in public and there is copyright material in the video can rest assure that copyright holders need to consider the conditions of the video do not warrant or allow them to restrict that video from being shown.

Copyright Online
Copyright laws are not updated enough to contend with how the internet works today. The laws are still old and do not consider how information, regardless of whether it is protected or not, is handled online. Information wants to be free and copyright laws prevent that from happening. There is a new book out that talks more about what copyright is doing in today’s age and how that affects information and internet use called, “Information doesn’t want to be free.” The author, Cory Doctorow, explains that the openness of the internet has unleashed this creative powerhouse of individuals with their causes but that the laws of copyright hold back much of what they are doing. Someone who is trying to gain attention for their cause might create a little video at home with a powerful song included that is copyrighted and place it on YouTube only to have it taken down later on.

What good does that do for society? The person’s cause and what they are trying to do? Nothing because the motive of profit is the reason these music labels are going around and causing problems. They do not consider their actions in the light of the big picture, only the fact that their “clients are not receiving their fair share of money,” which is a common response in these matters.

If copyright laws were really enforced to the full extent of the law the internet would come to a grinding halt and people would revolt against these laws. The reason for that is that anytime you take work that is protected by law and share it with another friend or repost, like, reblog, revlog, favor, follow, etc you are basically breaking copyright in the truest sense. That is why Tumblr was dealing with so many lawsuits on copyright because people were reblogging things they liked onto their page, which was the whole point of Tumblr to begin with. This means that people with protected works were getting onto a website they didn’t understand how it worked and then getting mad that their work was being “stolen,” when in fact people were just reblogging which tells you that the only reason those people got on Tumblr in the first place was because they heard how popular the medium was and wanted to get in on the action hoping they could make some money. In translation – some old people were butting into a young person’s world and getting mad about how they were doing things and not following how things were done before.

A good way to understand this is by looking at how you access information online. An adult company tried to sue Google on the case that when people did an image search and their photos showed up in the results, Google was breaking copyright law by using their photos in the results page. Google would go on to win the case by stating that the use of the photos was considered fair use and that they were protected. It is very easy to use the internet and not realize how many times you are breaking the law. It seems that photographers in general and artists tend to cause the most trouble when they see their photos used on other sites but it shouldn’t come as a surprise, it’s the internet and people want to share what they find and talk about it.

The perfect quote to close all this out with comes from Jessica Litman who said, “Most of us can no longer spend even an hour without colliding with the copyright law.” The reason is that in the past copyright holders, before the internet, held total control over who purchased their stuff and could control it because it was all physical items to be bought, now the internet has changed all that.

Fair Use on YouTube
The case of Ms. Lenz means that people will be able to post videos online with copyright material in them and not worry about it getting taken down, as long as it is used in fair use. The judged ruled that all media companies need to take into account of the fair use before considering any kind of lawsuit or request. The media companies countered with an affirmative defense tactic but the judge found that not to be the case here. This ruling is an important one because it means that copyright holders can not longer go after people who use their material in a way that is not meant for profit motives, in majority of all cases it is simply just good wholesome entertainment.


For those considering that the author of this blog is not considering the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into all the work someone creates, I am. I have been creating a lot of work on my own for years and would rather find that my work is being shared online with others and know that it is helping them achieve what they are pursing in life than putting up a paywall and only helping a handful. Which has a better impact on society?

News Articles

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