The “Copyright Deadlock:” ContentID, Fair Use, and Derivative Works on YouTube

Posted By: Emily Weiss

Jim Sterling has a thriving YouTube channel. His videos include reviews of video games, along with longer video essays on the state of the games industry. Unlike a lot of other YouTubers, Jim refuses to monetize his videos, and instead supports himself through his Patreon page. But this doesn’t always prevent his videos from being monetized.

YouTube’s ContentID system, which came into being after a multitude of copyright disputes, was intended to allow copyright holders to “fingerprint” and claim their copyrighted material when it was used in other videos. As a result, some third parties, like Nintendo, could claim their copyrighted content through the ContentID system and monetize the video themselves.

Jim didn’t like this. So he decided to put copyrighted footage in his videos from multiple companies. Lo and behold, they claimed their content through the ContentID system. But since different companies had different ideas about the monetization of the video, the end result was that Jim’s videos ultimately remained without advertisements. Jim called his solution the “Copyright Deadlock.” But was his solution legal?

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The Collective Yar: Fallacies and Failure of Digital Copyrights in an All-Access Culture

Posted By: Drew Weigel

The notion that copyright, in part or in whole, might be an inadequate theory of property for digital media is not new. Some have responsibly argued that the statutory distinction between performance and distribution falls apart when applied to digital media, creating a false and unnecessary distinction between interactive and non-interactive digital communications. Others have gone off the deep end and argued that copyright itself had developed into collective brain damage, fostering a permission culture where expression in a digital era is diminished or completely silenced by fear of infringement. We’re going to descend even further into madness and explore why the heuristics of copyright law—inherently based in property traditions from nobody remembers when—fail to protect that which is demonstrably too elusive to be protected under the same theory. Continue reading

Does Internet Fan Fiction Violate Copyright Law or is Fan Fiction Protected by Fair Use?

Posted By: Julia Ketchum

 

Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and thought maybe it should have ended differently? Or have you wanted to see a copyrighted character interact in a new situation outside the normal tale? For fan fiction writers, using copyrighted characters and copyrighted settings to make a new story is an exciting way to show their fan appreciation for their favorite story. Fan fiction is defined by Merriam-Webster is “stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet” and has been around for ages, even before the internet. Fan fiction can be based on any media from video games, plays, books, to even fan fiction written about real celebrities. With the rise of the internet, fan fiction is now easy and free to distribute to others on the internet thought such sites as fanfiction.net, archiveofourown.org, and wattpad.com. However, is fan fiction legal? Firstly, we will look at the exclusive rights copyright holders have over their own copyrighted product and whether or not any copyright rights are infringed by fan fiction. Next, we will look at the exception to copyright liability: Fair use. Looking at the factors of fair use, we will try to argue a position on fan fiction and whether or not it is protected by fair use. Overall, the factor of ‘transformative’ will determine if fan fiction is subject to copyright liability or if it should be considered fair use. Continue reading

Computer Software: The Transfer of Licenses Sale of Back-up Copies in the European Economic Area

Posted By: Timothy T. Emmart

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently held that it is an infringement of copyright to sell or transfer a physical back-up copy of a software program, when the original physical copy has been damaged, lost or destroyed. This ruling came after another ruling by the same court that created criteria for the lawful transfer of software licenses to third parties. The later ruling is in the same vein as U.S. copyright law, which allows the owner of a copy of a computer program to make another copy of that program for archival purposes and to sell or transfer that copy, along with the copy from which such archival copies were prepared. Continue reading