YouTube’s Copyright Policy - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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YouTube’s Copyright Policy

YouTube’s Copyright Policy

YouTube announced on Friday that it amended its form used to resolve copyright disputes. This change followed a death threat made to a German user.  Al Hayat TV was told by YouTube to respond to a claim of copyright infringement or it risked being shut down.  The form required to make a claim of copyright infringement contained a contact name and address.  ABC reported a German web channel subsequently received death threats after placing its contact information on the copyright infringement form.

This recent change sheds light on YouTube’s process for policing copyright infringement on its website.  YouTube makes a concerted effort to educate users on what copyright is, what the website’s policy is for protecting a copyrighted work, and what it means for users who receive a copyright takedown.  People who believe their copyright-protected work was posted on YouTube without authorization may submit a copyright takedown notice online through YouTube’s website or by email.

YouTube encourages those who think their copyrighted work is being used without authorization to notify YouTube through their webform.  The process includes only six steps describing the work that was infringed, the users allegedly infringing on the owner’s rights and agreeing to good faith statements.  YouTube discourages users from uploading copyrighted material and if the user receives a copyright strike from YouTube, the user will lose access to certain YouTube features and is on a probation-like period.

YouTube user has three ways of resolving a copyright strike. First, the user may wait for the strike to expire within six months, so long as the user completes Copyright School and receives no further strikes. Second, the user can get the copyright owner to retract their claim of infringement. Third, the user has the opportunity to submit a counter notification.  YouTube’s process for filing takedowns and responding to copyright strikes shows how the website facilitates the copyright owner’s right to enforce its copyright, without spending a mass of resources policing the website for infringers.

YouTube is a place where original works are often uploaded and this is great for new artists, musicians, or users who want to get free publicity. There have been times and there will continue to be times when copyrighted work is uploaded to YouTube. Much like copyright law in general, though, it is the responsibility of the copyright owner to protect their right as the copyright holder. YouTube is in an uncomfortable position in between these two parties, but their website provides a vast amount of information on copyright law, how to protect a copyright, and what it means when a user violates this right. There is an argument to be made that YouTube should take a greater role in taking down copyrighted works, but with so many users constantly uploading content to the website, it seems unrealistic to expect this. At the end of the day, a copyright holder must protect their right, and YouTube encourages and facilitates this process.

Taylor Zelony

Taylor Zelony is a second year student at Fordham University School of Law and a staff member of the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal.