EFF set to sue Youtube

Youtube has been systematically and increasingly removing videos from the system for supposed copyright infringement. The latest episode has removed a video by a from a teenager who video’d herself singing 1934 classic “Winter Wonderland”.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been monitoring this and has finally had a gutsful and is set to sue Youtube.

Many videos, including several of mine, have been removed when they clearly meet “Fair Use” criteria.

So what can we do?

First, YouTube should fix the Content ID system. Now. The system should not remove videos unless there is a match between the video and audio tracks of a submitted fingerprint. When we made this suggestion in October 2007, YouTube assured us that they were working on improving the tool. Well, it’s been more than a year. If YouTube is serious about protecting its users, the time has come to implement this fix. (Some will point out that this implies that record labels and music publishers can never use the Content ID tool to remove videos solely based on what’s in the audio track. That’s right. I think that adding a soundtrack to your home skateboarding movie is a fair use. If copyright owners feel differently, they can send a formal DMCA takedown notice, and with any luck, we’ll see each other in court.)

Second, YouTubers, EFF wants to help. If Warner Music Group took down your video, ask yourself if your video is (1) noncommercial (i.e., no commercial advertisements or YouTube Partner videos) and (2) includes substantial original material contributed by you (i.e., no verbatim copies of Warner music videos). If so, and you’d like to counternotice but are afraid of getting sued, we’d like to hear from you. We can’t promise to take every case, but neither will we stand by and watch semi-automated takedowns trample fair use.

I will be joining their lawsuit. Can the EFF change the game on YouTube? Given the organization’s healthy list of previous legal victories, I think it will be a good fight at the very least.