Jeff Atwood’s “YouTube: The Big Copyright Lie” may be the most telling — and concise — article ever written about today’s online copyright law fiasco. According to Atwood, the company’s whole existence teeters a fundamental lie: that so-called “fair use” is in the eye of the beholder, and the only beholders who matter are the copyright’s owner and their attorneys (read: copyrighted material is kept live on YouTube indefinitely until either the copyright holder or their lawyers complain).
Atwood shows that YouTube’s copyright tips page, although refreshingly plain-spoken, is a bit self-righteous, considering that, as he puts it, 90% of the content on YouTube is ripped-off copyrighted material…
It’s completely glossed over on the YouTube copyright page in favor of 100% original content, but the loophole in copyright is fair use. Under the banner of fair use, you could legally upload a video without the copyright holder’s permission. Anyone who contributes anything to the web should have the four factors of fair use commited [sic] to memory by now:
- the purpose of the use
- the nature of the copyrighted work
- the relative amount of the portion used
- the market effect of the use on the copyrighted work
Atwood goes on to explain why “The typical YouTube clip does well on the last two factors of the fair use test, but utterly fails the first two.” It’s an eye-opener for anyone who creates original content.
Meanwhile, our attitudes toward the media landscape continues to shift according to generational fault lines. In AdvertisingAge, Mike Vorhaus shares some telling figures:
Americans also believe their use of online video has cannibalized TV. Overall, more than 15% of respondents say they watch TV less as a result of watching online videos. And 25% of 18- to 24-year-olds believe that online video is cannibalizing their TV viewing. In comparison, fewer than 11% of 45- to 54-year-olds report such cannibalization.
Hmm… Does it count as watching TV if you’re watching TV on YouTube?