The entertainment industry has a history of framing new technology as piracy that threatens its very existence, regardless of the potential benefits of the technology or the legal limits of copyright rights. In the case of YouTube, copyright owners' attempts to retain content control negatively impact the public's ability to discuss culture in an online world. This implicates the basic policy behind fair use: to prevent copyright law from "stifl[ing] the very creativity which that law is designed to foster." The internet has become a powerful medium for expression. It is a vital tool in today's world for sharing original works, but is equally important as a forum for discussion of existing works. YouTube blurs the the line between publication and everyday conversation. It enables the sharing of culture, ideas, and debate in ways previously impossible, and therefore plays an important and progressive role in our society. In Part II, I will explain how YouTube works, how potential copyright infringement affects the website and its users, and describe the basics of the fair use defense. In Part III, I will argue that YouTube's open method of content distribution is important to our culture, and argue that fair use needs to be a flexible standard that protects the majority of YouTube content as non-infringing.
Copyright and YouTube: Pirate's Playground or Fair Use Forum?,
Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mttlr/vol14/iss1/6