This morning’s New York Times has an article on copyright and YouTube. Warner Music and YouTube have an agreement that has YouTube pulling down content from their servers even when it seems the posted videos are within Fair Use guidelines.
“The law provides a four-point test for the fair use of copyrighted works, taking into account things like the purpose, the size of an exerpt and the effect the use might have on the commerical value of the actual work.”
The deal between Warner and Google seems to be that any content merits a take-down if it has any identifiable copyrighted material in it, whether it’s a sign language teacher using a bit of Foreigner in the background or a family video that has some music playing in the background. The argument seems to be that while YouTube users are noncommercial, Google is profiting from site traffic, and the media companies arguing that all content is thus commercial.
At Richmond, we’re researching copyright and fair use with a goal to more liberally interpret fair use so that the video work our students do – which often includes snippets from commercial music – can see the light of day. I’m encouraged by the report from The Center for Social Media, which argues that transfomative uses, like the ones our students have for copyrighted material, are legal.
What today’s article in the Times tells me is that while transformative uses may be legal, we’ll need to host the content ourselves rather than host it on a for-profit service like YouTube. While it’s disappointing to lose the opportunities that YouTube offers in terms of letting more people see our student’s work, I still find hope that we will someday soon have a policy that allows student scholarship to be seen beyond the classroom.