Google’s YouTube has announced a new program that aims to support creators on the service when they become the targets of copyright claims. In select cases, when a video creator is being unfairly targeted with copyright takedown requests when in fact their content is protected under “fair use” guidelines, YouTube says it will provide up to $1 million to cover legal costs in the event of a lawsuit. In addition, YouTube will keep the video in question live on the website as a sign of support.
The concept of “fair use” is to protect media such as video, music, books, and more that use pieces of existing content, but in a way that contributes to the creation of something new altogether. The problem is that in the age of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), copyright holders are sometimes eager to use the law in order force the removal of content that should be protected, often in the name of fighting piracy.
When it comes to fighting a large media corporation in court over the right of fair use, YouTube creators can easily find themselves lacking the finances to defend their work. YouTube’s concern in the matter also comes down to the fact that removed videos, especially from really popular creators with millions of subscribers, means less revenue from ads paired with the content.
In a blog post explaining the initiative, YouTube’s Copyright Legal Director Fred von Lohmann said, “In addition to protecting the individual creator, this program could, over time, create a “demo reel” that will help the YouTube community and copyright owners alike better understand what fair use looks like online and develop best practices as a community.”