Copyright, fair use and YouTube

Glenn W. Peterson

When it comes to California residents sharing information on the internet, there are always going to be concerns about copyrights. This is especially true when it comes to YouTube. This video sharing platform is wildly popular because it allows users to connect with millions of viewers. However, when a user creates a video that contains someone else’s content, there could be an issue with copyright.

YouTube outlines its copyright policies with the intent of protecting copyrighted material. However, the company also looks out for users by offering Fair Use Protection. This protection helps to ensure that those who are fairly using copyrighted material as outlined by the law are not retaliated against by copyright holders. YouTube only extends this protection in a few cases, but all users are protected under the Fair Use Doctrine.

Fair use is a legal concept that allows people to use copyrighted material without being in violation of the law. This is not a clear and concise concept, though. Use of copyrighted material can only be determined as falling under fair use by a court.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, when a court looks at a situation, it will use four main factors to determine fair use. The court will check how much of the protected material is being used. In general, the more material used, the increased likelihood that it will not be found to be fair use. The intention or way the material is used is also considered. Commercial use is generally less favorable than non-commercial use. The type of material is considered. Factual work is usually more available to be used freely than fiction. Finally, the impact that the use will have or could have on the copyright holder will be looked at. If the use of the material is going to have a negative impact, then it may not be ruled as fair use.