YouTube Launches Myth Perpetuating 'Copyright School'; Dismisses Remixes As 'Not Original'

from the sad dept

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:

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Comments on “YouTube Launches Myth Perpetuating 'Copyright School'; Dismisses Remixes As 'Not Original'”

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Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

Re: I had much the same reaction.

I watched this yesterday, and I had much the same reaction. It seems like a heavy-handed joke, but if you think about in a deliberately naive way, it makes the US Judicial Branch into a literal mechanism for hammering people doing commonplace things (sharing a video with other fans) into conforming.

It even has the Techdirt Troll’s Obsession with getting an experienced copyright lawyer to judge infringement or not. If they were telling the truth they wouldn’t have put this weird advice in.

I’m guessing that some group at youtube tricked a really obsessive “experienced copyright lawyer” to go completely overboard, and then had an animator with a sense of humor illustrate the overboard nature of experienced copyright lawyering.

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:


“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.”

You know? This statement above is a powerful and damning statement against Copyright’s continued existence. And the reality behind it infuriates me.

Copyright is a -MONOPOLY- power granted by -WE THE PEOPLE- and now we’re being told that -WE THE ‘LITTLE’ PEOPLE- aren’t even allowed near the borders of Copyright?

Screw Copyright. REPEAL IT.

Seriously, No Copyright can’t be worse that this Boat-Anchor around our necks.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I hadn’t thought of that..
I immediately thought the old canada is full of pirates rant..
Although I think Rocky was a flying squirrel maybe it isn’t a beaver afterall. Bullwinkle was always the bumbling idiot that Rocky had to put up with so I guess that fits with the whole tongue in cheek feeling of the video 🙂

REM(RND) (profile) says:

Odd, the ‘3 strikes’ looks so much like the ones on ‘The Price is Right’ that I expected the fail-music to play afterwards. Did they get the proper copyrights for that? I’m willing to guess the answer is ‘No’.

As for misusing the DMCA process, they still need something that works both ways for this. If I say something about someone and they say it’s a lie, they try to sue me. If it’s found out that they sued erroneously, then I am allowed to sue them for the initial suit. Thus, if my content is removed wrongfully, and is proven so, why then would I not be entitled to restitution?

I also love they way that the Fair Use information (of which they explain little and provide no examples of positive Fair Use for comparison) and the information at the end about how to find more about Copyright via YouTube was drowned out by noise and moving images.

They also failed to mention that because you are making that video more available to the public, that interest in the creator of the video and his content will grow, thus making him more money.

Now, the question is if we make a parody of this video, and explain each point they make and how they are in error, is that Fair Use or do they get to sue us?

Huph (user link) says:

Please Learn What "Remix" Means

The Kutiman pieces that have been mentioned on this site are not remixes. Can someone who possesses at least a cursory knowledge of sample-based music please take over writing about music?

Music made from samples does not = remix.

A remix is literally re-mixing (“Mixing” is a very specific term in audio production), by default, remixes sound similar to the original source.

Kutiman makes sample-based music. That’s what it’s called. Not a remix. DJ Shadow makes instrumental hip hop out of samples, not remixes. The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” was not a remix of a Rolling Stones song, but the relatively recent version of Elvis’ “A Little Less Conversation” was a remix. Moby/RJD2/FlyingLotus/etc make sample-based music. Tiesto does remixes. Fourtet does remixes.

These are very different things, and have different legal standings. A remix overwhelmingly uses the original source material, but rearranges it into something different. Sometimes “new” but not necessarily, many times remixing is just adding a dance beat so a softer song can be made “hard” enough for the dance floor. Sample-based music is generally made from numerous sources and rarely reflects the original recordings.

For god’s sake, just check Wiki for more clarity.

Anonymous Coward says:


Ok, let’s start about this the easy way:
Why would they use characters from one hell of a brutal show for this?
Why would the whole video be in a slightly mocking tone?

Because youtube is mocking copyright regulations.

Now I applaud those that actually noticed that throughout the whole video it was doing a parody of what the copyright-holders love to say. This video is truly tongue in cheeck

Jesse (profile) says:

I think most of you are reading into this wrong. I think on the one hand, Youtube is trying to satisfy Big Content, but they know most of these rules are ridiculous. I think they made an obviously ridiculous video in a tongue in cheek sort of way. It’s just ‘serious’ enough that it’s hard to accuse them of supporting infringers, but just ridiculous enough to mock the copyright maximalists.

Nathan says:

The real fair use banned

I find it very frustrating that the real fair-use video that you linked is not missing, perhaps banned by youTube. I’ve always disliked youtube for many reasons, but now that they are joining in with Google’s Time to Be Evil stuff, I am almost thinking of deleting my account and going to vimeo or some other site.

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