I know that YouTube/Google are in a big legal fight with Viacom over infringing works on YouTube, and that YouTube has been bending over backwards to help copyright holders either takedown or monetize infringing works, but I’m both surprised and disappointed by YouTube’s new “copyright school.” You can see the video below:
For a company that employs both William Patry and Fred von Lohmann, you would think that the video would be a lot better. First of all, it simply reinforces the idea that infringement is “piracy,” by using a cartoon character dressed up as a “pirate.” That’s misleading in the extreme. Second, it is incredibly misleading, condescending and insulting to creative remixes, which it claims are “not original.” Instead, it urges people to “sing an original song” and “create your own content.” Really? Is YouTube really claiming that remixes like Kutiman are “not original” because they’re remixes?
Finally, while the video does at least make a nod to fair use (at 2:42), the message there is pretty clear that fair use is complicated, legalistic, and not for normal people, so you’re best off just ignoring it. Basically, up until that point in the video, the video has a standard pace and some backing bed music, but when the fair use segment comes in, a big white slab comes across the screen, the music stops, and the slab fills with small, difficult to read text, that the voiceover voice reads very quickly, like the legal disclaimers at the end of drug commercials. Meanwhile, the cartoon “pirate” is shown struggling with fair use.
As Copycense points out, if you actually want a copyright/fair use lesson on YouTube, you’re better off watching this video from Rocketboom:
Of course, as per usual, it appears that YouTube users are not confused by this sort of propaganda. As I write this, the votes on YouTube’s own video are 2 to 1 “dislike” to “like.”
Update: And, really, if we’re going to be showing “educational” videos about copyright, how can we forget this one, care of Nina Paley: