Under the veil of Youtube copyright protection: Unfair uses and Infringements

Under the veil of Youtube copyright protection: Unfair uses and Infringements

Under the veil of Youtube copyright protection: Unfair uses and Infringements

Youtube is known as one of the most popular platforms for sharing and uploading video clips. Almost every type of video can be found uploaded on Youtube, except those violated Youtube’s general guidelines. However, there is one particular type of infringement that Youtube have not yet able to fully take control over: The Copyright infringement.

What is Copyright?

Generally speaking, copyright is the legal right that protects original works of authorship. Whenever one creates an original work, he/she automatically has the divine right towards his/her work.

In most social media’s guidelines, copyright often covers 3 main fields: Visual or audiovisual works; audio works; literary works.

To protects the authors before the risks of losing profit to the infringers, Youtube specifically created copyright guidelines for every users. On one hand, Youtube actively seeks for violating contents; on the other hand, authors can file a Copyright strike (copy strike – in short) a violated work. The violated user shall be punished depending on how many times that user is reported, the scale of profit loss from the author’s side, or the severity of the user’s action. The punishment should be from deleting/suspending the violated content, to permanently disable the user from uploading again.

In order to use part or the whole original work, that user must ask for the permission from the author. Of course, this does not mean that any content that include original work without permission is consider violation. Under the guidelines of fair use, content can include the original work (partial or even the whole work) without having to ask for the author’s permission. The fair uses are work of commentary, criticism, research, teaching, or news reporting (depending on the situation); this section of Youtube is based on the U.S Copyright Acts, but it can change depending to the location of the violating member.

Youtube is very strict when it comes to IP rights, and it is really a good sign for such a huge platform. However, have you ever wondered why there are so many similar videos that come from different channel?

Youtube copyright: Fair uses exploitation

Youtube users, let’s just divide into two gourps: Youtube uploaders and Youtubers. For the Uploaders, these channels’ sole purposes to to upload to the owner’s heart content. Of course, uploaders sometimes violate copyright acts, but they often take down the content quickly and find a way to improvise without violating the act once more.

Youtubers, on the other hand, are channels’ existing to attract viewers. Contradictory to uploaders, youtubers try their best to create content that is unique and attractive. However, human’s taste for video attraction is rather limited. Even though there are a huge variety of viewers’ taste, the largest group of viewers often share the same taste. For most youtubers, that is the most profitable audience. Even though youtubers are given the title “content creators”, some of them only recycle others content to make it theirs. Yet, with enough “creativity”, they are able to claim that product as their own. So what is the problem that Youtube may have overlooked?

The originality

The “originality” problem is not uniquely the fault from Youtube side. As Copyright Acts only protects how the work presented, not the original idea behind it; some individuals are able to modify it to a certain level and call it their products. How ridiculous that is!

Take movie review channels for instance, there a tons of them which include partial clips from the original movie in their videos. How come their contents have not been taken down yet? It is because they exploited the “fair use” section. Review means that they give their idea about the particular subject that they focused about (in this case, a movie), which fall under the use of criticism, totally legal in Youtube’s guidelines. Of course, to call this is an act of “infringement” certainly will offend a whole lot of people. As reviewers give THEIR IDEA into the video, it makes the video originally theirs to begin with. Another great example for this exploitation should be reaction videos. The original video plays and the youtubers’ only job is to watch and give comment on the video that is NOT THEIRS.

However, the uses of reviewing or criticism in general should be at a strict limit. Some reviewing videos only capture a single frame that they need focusing on, which is totally fine. But many of which putting a whole sequence of a movie to present their ideas, which would risks losing a whole lot of profits from the producers; not to mention, there are channels that capture the main parts of a movie, and retell it instead. Yet, since there is no official research on how spoiling movie affect a movie’s success, none action was taken to punish these “unfair uses”.

The unfair uses

Put the flawed “creativity” system aside, the unfair uses also are the actions of some authors. Youtube allows the copy strike report should any author find that their contents are being stolen. In theory, this should be the patch that fulfill Youtube’s copyright flaw. Though it does work in some cases, there are cases that author take copy strike just so they can limit the use of that content uniquely their own.

What is even sadder is that, this act is completely legal as in the guidelines. Some videos can be created brilliantly, but then are taken down because a single copyrighted string of melody. In one hand, it is the creators’ fault for not considering copyrighted works in his/her products; in the other hand, the author’s act simply limit the possible “creativity” of another’s work.

Obviously, Youtube also include a counter-claim to prepare for such situation. But the complicate procedure often prevent the creators to pursuit a counter claim to the final as this might not worth the effort they invest.

What could be done with Youtube Copyright to improve quality of content?

The first suggestion is that Youtube should protect the originality of an idea. Whoever want to use that kind of idea should contact the author and ask for permission. This act should eliminate the repetitiveness in many youtubers’ content. However, this also give the author too much power towards a single novel idea (which already is a really hard element to determine). Yet, to the writer point of view, it is better to be strict than to be flawed.

Second suggestion is that Youtube build a community that solely for the purpose of constructing a definitive level of “creativity”. If a work matches a certain creative level, even if it included original work without permission, that work can be considered original. However, one drawback that can be bigger than the one above is that people’s opinion about creativity is different to each other. Some might find the work contains too little novel element, while some cope it as enough.

Both the two suggestions made above give more power to the author. Some might think it is a bad think, but to the writer’s point of view, the author should know everything evolving around his/her work. It is the author’s option to consider if it is a good uses of the original work or not.

Yet, there are never enough to be done. Infringers will always find a way to take away the authors and good fellows’ effort to make them their own. The problem is basically starting from the users’ awareness about Copyright. Should Copyright Acts is similar in every part of the world, with enough awareness, we believe that controlling unfair uses and infringements shall be much less difficult.

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