Google, owner of YouTube, has announced that it will help fund the legal fees for content creators who have received takedown notices, where their material is considered to be fair use.
Under the terms of United States copyright law the doctrine of fair use allows individuals to use copyrighted content without the permission of the copyright holder in limited circumstances. Material can be reproduced for purposes including news reporting, commentary, criticism, parody or teaching.
In the Californian case of Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. 572 F. Supp. 2d 1150, Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled that Universal Music Group ('UMG') failed to consider this fair use exception when it claimed that a video of a baby dancing to a song by Prince was in breach of copyright. The decision was affirmed by the 9th Circuit in September of this year and re-emphasises the importance of a copyright holder bearing in mind fair use criteria when filing a takedown notice.
Google believes that the removal of such content, with a social value greater than that provided by the original, risks stifling the creativity and expression that is central to the YouTube brand and community.
The videos which are among those being defended in the most recent surge of cases include two video game reviews and a piece containing news footage of Rachel Dolezal (which went viral in mid-June).
We have yet to find out more information about the cases and whether they have yet been heard in court, but we will keep abreast of any news and update the blog as it is reported.