Fair use is a legal doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. It is one type of limitation and exception to the exclusive rights copyright law grants to the author of a creative work.
Now I’m not an expert on American Law nor do I claim to be nor do I play one on TV. However there’s a revolution in the works right now that people NEED to take notice of. For anyone who is out there working on a YouTube video for a movie review, a video game review, a song cover or any other piece of creative media that uses extracts, parts of, or resembles works done by major studios is now targeted in one of the biggest and unfairest protection rackets of the digital age: The abuse of the YouTube claims system and with it the death of Fair Use.
Earlier this evening Doug Walker, aka The Nostalgia Critic, put out one of his editorial videos which was inspired by his recent battles with YouTube and their copyright content ID system. To quickly recap, YouTube put a strike on the Channel Awesome YouTube channel. This reduced a lot of the videos on the site to be removed, time limited, monetization removed and all around screwed up completely. As Channel Awesome is now a business that employs many people both in front of the camera and behind the scenes, this was a huge issue. The issue of Fair Use is not unusual for those who deal with copyrighted material in order to produce review content like Channel Awesome does. Doug Walker has had to change his style to suit YouTube. If you take a look at the videos he produces now, they use less clips or even no clips at all; instead using recreation of scenes instead… This still hasn’t stopped studios from flagging his content in an effort to take his revenue. So now Doug is fighting back.
Here’s Doug’s video about Fair Use and the abuse YouTube allows to happen:
Digital revolutions happen almost daily. Some are just slacktivism, others become real world causes, or someone is just having a bad day and wants to create a hashtag on Twitter to get some attention. The video above asks the question “Where’s the fair use?” and ends with the hashtag #WTFU. Almost minutes after the video was published, the #WTFU movement has begun (You can see for yourself here) with anyone and everyone either retweeting the original link to the video, Channel Awesome’s tweet about the video, or in the case of other YouTubers like Alpha Omega Sin; have made their own video in relation to Doug’s original message.
Personally, we here at The Outerhaven need to get things out on YouTube, not only to help entertain and educate you, our dear readers, but to create a revenue stream to help pay for our monthly costs (So please, if you are watching our videos on YouTube, turn off that ad-block) and help grow this site from being a hobby that a group of us do into a proper job. I came into the site with my video content inside my reviews, something I spend a lot of time on in order to make things as professional as possible, however due to the current state of abuse in the YouTube system, I’ve stopped doing those produced review videos because I am required to use self-captured footage of the games themselves to get my point across visually. So while I do get the games from the publishers (or at least the PR firms they hired to do this work for them), I also run the risk of getting flagged by using content from those games by those same companies.
For a better example, I was given a Darksiders 2 trailer by THQ Australia (back when they owned the game) and was told personally by their PR department to put the video up on YouTube with full permission. So I put the video up, without monetizing the video, and 2 days later it was copyright claimed by THQ’s USA PR department. I even put into the video that the content was used with permission, along with a similar write up in the description. This didn’t stop a different department of the same company from claiming the rights and hitting my channel with a strike.
Another thing, as pointed out in Doug Walker’s video above, is that companies are using the YouTube copyright claim system to censor and remove things that would be threatening their profits by providing negative criticism towards one of their products. Remember the Day One Garry’s Incident drama with TotalBiscuit? Where the developer of Day One Garry’s Incident pushed a copyright claim onto the “WTF is Day One Garry’s Incident” video because TB completely ripped the game a new asshole for being a complete piece of shit? Well that is happening more and more on YouTube. Screen junkies (Producers of the popular Honest Trailers series) and CinemaSins (Who produce the extremely popular Everything Wrong With series) get take down notices every other day because they are pointing out major flaws in Hollywood’s promotional system, this threatening their profits. So Hollywood responds by trying to remove the content.
At the end of the day, the “big end of town” are trying to destroy people who create or criticize video content by abusing a system that does not punish false claims and we’re not taking the abuse anymore! It’s time to fight back and with people like Doug Walker leading the charge, maybe this time they will listen and stop bullying us from being creative…
Now only if we could stop video game companies from ripping us off on DLC prices…