YouTube recently announced that it will protect “some of the best examples of fair use on YouTube” by defending some creators in copyright litigation. Under this initiative, YouTube “indemnifies creators whose fair use videos have been subject to takedown notices for up to $1 million of legal costs in the event that takedown results in a lawsuit for copyright infringement.”
The announcement notes:
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 . . . 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.
Fair use is a critical right under United States copyright law that accommodates the First Amendment, is flexible and responsive to change, and supports the constitutional purpose of copyright: to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts.” Fair use allows for creators to use copyrighted works in transformative ways, including for purposes of parody, commentary and criticism, and innovation. Many videos on YouTube rely on fair use, incorporating other copyrighted works, but using them in transformative ways and we applaud YouTube’s decision to defend some creators who rely on this important doctrine.