EFF Comments on YouTube Copyright School
Article by George Norman
On 19 Apr 2011
We recently reported that YouTube, as part of its commitment to protect original creative works, has taken a few measures to prevent copyright infringement. It has rolled out a new copyright tutorial, redesigned the copyright help center, and said it will take infringers to copyright school – YouTube Copyright School.

Yes, YouTube said that if it receives a copyright notification for a video you uploaded, you will have to go to YouTube Copyright School and you will have to take a test to graduate out of copyright school. If you don’t pass the test, you will not be allowed to upload videos to YouTube.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a donor-supported membership organization working to protect fundamental rights regardless of technology, applauded YouTube’s efforts to battle copyright infringement, but it said that YouTube Copyright School has a misleading curriculum.

The video users see in YouTube Copyright School emphasizes the fact that they should only post original footage they shot themselves to stay out of trouble; that building on existing creative works they face copyright infringement charges. Furthermore the video does not properly explain what “fair use” mean; it only displays a short legalistic blurb and tells users to contact a lawyer if in doubt. Further still, the video says that users who misuse the counter-notice process can get in a lot of trouble – without mentioning that those who send improper takedown notices can get in a lot of trouble as well.

Speaking of takedown notices, they are usually sent by copyright holders; the EFF said that if users are sent to copyright school, copyright holders should be sent to copyright school as well because some of them badly need education on the issue (as you can see in this Takedown Hall of Shame).

I mentioned above that as part of YouTube Copyright School users will have to take a quiz. The EFF said that the quiz is confusing and continues along the lines of the video.

“Taken together, the materials send a strong message to users that they will get into legal trouble if they post anything other than content that is entirely self-created and/or drawn from the public domain – despite the multitude of important transformative uses that are permissible under the law and a fundamental part of our cultural experience,” said Intellectual Property Director at EFF, Corynne McSherry. We're all in favor of copyright education. But YouTube needs to develop a new curriculum that helps users -- and content owners -- understand what's possible, not just what's forbidden.”

Tags: Google, YouTube, Piracy, Copyright Infringement, EFF
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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