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November 20, 2015

Google protects YouTube fair use with legal backing

News: Controversy ushered in by Prince copyright battle rages on.

By Alexander Sword

Google will cover the legal costs of YouTube users hit with copyright suits in an attempt to uphold "fair use" on the video platform.

Some, but not all, uploaders who make use of existing content or TV clips will receive legal defence from Google if necessary if they are unfairly hit with copyright law.

"We are offering legal support to a handful of videos that we believe represent clear fair uses which have been subject to DMCA takedowns," wrote Fred von Lohmann, Copyright Legal Director.

"We’re doing this because we recognize that creators can be intimidated by the DMCA’s counter notification process, and the potential for litigation that comes with it."

"We’ll continue to resist legally unsupported DMCA takedowns as part of our normal processes."

One high-profile case arose when the artist known as Prince and Universal Music issued a takedown notice to Stephanie Lenz, who had posted a video of her child dancing to Prince’s 1984 hit "Let’s Go Crazy".

Lenz contested the notice and finally conclusively won the case in September after eight years of legal wrangling.

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"Google needs to strike a delicate balance between the interests of creators who make YouTube such a phenomenon, and those of content owners who are often also customers of Google for advertising on YouTube," said Martin Garner, SVP at CCS Insight.

"By defending these video creators, Google is sending a clear signal that it believes the balance of interests is not currently working fairly. But it is a small signal at this stage and only valid in the US.

"CCS Insight thinks copyright holders are unlikely to change their practices until they see a higher likelihood of being challenged."


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