Pirates upload full-length movies on YouTube then claim “fair use” when it’s blocked or removed

BOGUS fair use claims hurt creators already victimized by piracy

There was a lot of talk about fair use and takedown abuse at last week’s U.S. Copyright Office Section 512 roundtables in San Francisco. Many of those who spoke, bemoaned how poor, innocent uploaders were victimized, time after time, by malicious DMCA takedowns.

It’s a tried and true talking point, convenient, but disingenuous all the same. Some of us, myself included, tried to make the point that creators, whose work is routinely (and massively stolen), are often (doubly) victimized by malicious fair use claims.

I thought I’d share an example of this that occurred just this week on YouTube. On Tuesday a full-copy of the Swedish indie film “Kyss Mig” (all 147 minutes of it) was uploaded to YouTube by a user aptly named “Free Movies.” As an added flourish, the user-name included the notation, “free movies bitches.”

In this instance YouTube’s Content ID system worked as intended. The Content ID user (an indie film distributor) had set the system to block uploads of a certain length in its territories. Even though the video was a full, pirated copy of the film, it wasn’t taken down, it was simply blocked. So far, so good right?

Wrong…This YouTube user didn’t seem to think the rights holder had the right to block the full, infringing copy and promptly disputed the block. S/he stated the reason as being:

Approval from copyright Holder is not required. It is fair use under copyright Law.

The user also added a note: “I don’t need to explain.” Clearly Free Movies didn’t bother to read YouTube’s information on disputing a claim or its explainer on fair use.

Despite all the testimony at last week’s roundtable about fair use–and how copyright holders seek out to punish those who claim it using malicious takedowns–it’s worth pointing out, yet again, that for every legit “fair use” claim, there are also false, and rather malicious, abuses of that defense. It’s a fact conveniently overlooked by the anti-copyright apologists.

Take a gander below at the actual screen caps documenting this bogus “fair use” claim. Hopefully, officials considering DMCA reforms will acknowledge that creators can be twice victimized by abusive fair use claims.

I did in fact “reinstate” the claim (on behalf of the indie distributor I work for) so we’ll have to wait and see if this user goes on to file a counter-notice. If s/he does so, the film, in its entirety, will return to YouTube even though it’s CLEARLY infringing because we don’t have the financial resources to enforce the removal in federal court.

I’ve had the same thing happen after full pirated copies of our film were uploaded to YouTube. For creators trying to protect their work it’s a lose, lose…Perhaps YouTube should require it’s users to review “fair use” and “copyright” before they are allowed to uploaded content of a certain length? Why should creators be twice victimized while uploaders walk away unscathed?


Originally published at voxindie.org on May 17, 2016.

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