YouTube Pledges to Defend Users Against DMCA Takedowns
On Thursday last week, YouTube announced that it would cover the legal costs of some of its users with what they think are strong fair use defenses who face takedown demands. Initially, YouTube will only back four creators, including Constantine Guiliotis, whose channel debunks UFO sightings, Jim Sterling, and Naral Pro-Choice Ohio, an abortion rights group. None of the creators have yet been sued but YouTube has pledged to financially support them (up to $1 million) if they face legal action in the future.
This initiative is meant to combat abuse of the DMCA, the law used by copyright holders to demand allegedly infringing content be taken down, even if the content qualifies as “fair use,” which is not infringement under the Copyright Law. Once a creator receives a takedown notice, the DMCA allows the creator to file a counterclaim, and the group which filed the takedown demand must get a court order to enforce the takedown. However, this process is not generally known by content creators, who may believe the takedown notices are finite and cannot be fought. As Fred von Lohmann, Google’s copyright legal director, wrote in the blog post announcement, “We’re doing this because we recognise that creators can be intimidated by the DMCA’s counter-notification process and the potential for litigation that comes with it.” YouTube’s initiative is intended to educate users on fair use and the counterclaim process and to protect free speech.
More via the New York Times.