Strong opinions, weakly held

YouTube and fair use

Jeff Atwood posts on YouTube’s copyright hypocrisy and how the fair use rules for copyright work. He points out that the copyrighted video clips posted to YouTube generally do not pass muster for fair use, and that YouTube is essentially flouting the law with the silent assent of many copyright holders.

Last October I posted about the benefits of YouTube, which sadly do seem to rest upon a foundation of widespread copyright infringement. If anything I think that YouTube is the best demonstration yet of the absurdity of copyright laws, especially with regard to sports broadcasts. In theory, people are not allowed to post video of events that were witnessed in person by tens of thousands of people and on television by millions of people, but that strikes me as patently absurd.

It’s worth noting that half of the videos I pointed to in my post last year have been removed from YouTube for copyright violations. Different versions of each of them have been uploaded since then by other people. It seems like YouTube, its users, and many copyright holders are willing to let things continue as they are, but you’d think that a real structural change is in order.

1 Comment

  1. I would have like to have seen YouTube put forth a Fair Use argument. I think there’s a real possiblity that such an argument could have been made. All YouTube clips have commentary. And the “nature” clause could have been addressed both on the basis that all the works are published and that the are more reference than original entertainment.

    I think Jeff makes a lot of bad points.

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